In The Fold: Ireland at LFW
London Fashion Week AW15 marked the fourth International Fashion Showcase, the largest free public fashion exhibition of its kind. Ireland was one of the 25 countries represented at the exhibition, presenting an installation of works by emerging designers and representing Irish design and culture.
Eight designers were showcased in the Irish installation, all sharing a minimal, highly conceptual aesthetic which was presented in a ‘white box’ style space. Among the craziness of wildly-differing aesthetic and display approaches from other countries and the buzz of activity as people strolled about with glasses of wine in hand, Ireland came as a moment of calm during the path through the countries. Presented as a twisting and at times, bewildering enfilade from one culture to the next, Ireland was perched pretty much at the half-way point through the exhibition. The clean, neat installation proved just the palate cleanser the doctor ordered to stop the whole thing from becoming overwhelming.
The installation is presented by Irish Design 2015 (ID2015), a year long initiative exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design through events and exhibitions at home and abroad and gives young designers a chance to show their work on an international platform. LFW marks its launch and from this point on, it will go on to tour the world throughout the year. Curated by Gemma A. Williams, the installation explores the positive aspects of the isolation of island living. It shows how this gives rise to an entirely indigenous identity and the designers involved certainly give the sense that a distinct and cohesive design identity is emerging.
Irish clichés are re-imagined and traditional shapes, ideas and techniques are used in new ways. The title of the installation, ‘In the Fold’, references this group movement or identity (as the colloquialism meaning to be part of a group) but it also refers to the act of making – folding and transforming fabrics into something new. The clothes are very much the focal point of the installation, rather a grander concept as with many of the others – giving us pause to really consider each piece and the ideas behind it.
The apparent simplicity, the low-key approach to display and the seemingly minimal but complex designs reward the viewer who allows themselves to be sucked into the contemplative, meditative state induced by the space. The more you look, the more you see. The hang allows for room to observe the construction closely and views from multiple angles. And construction is clearly important to all of the designers involved – they know their craft intimately and turn their hand to traditional methods we think we know but have never seen thus applied.
Overall, the Irish installation presents a cohesive collection of garments that woo us slowly over time rather than dazzle without depth. Keep an eye out for Caoimhe Mac Neice, Jocelyn Murray Boyne, Laura Kinsella, Michael Stewart, Naoise Farrell, Oliver Duncan Doherty, Richard Malone and Rory Parnell-Mooney – they’re sure to crop up again and again in the future.
Photos c/o design.britishcouncil.org, flickr.com