Simone Rocha, JW Anderson, Alan Taylor – these are just a few of the young Irish names making their mark on the global fashion industry right now. And they won’t be the last if Tuesday’s NCAD Graduate Fashion Show is anything to go by. Thirty-two final-year students (from both the four-year degree program and newly shortened three-year course) showcased their graduate collections in the very urban space of the ground-floor car park at The Westbury hotel, demonstrating a level of creativity and innovation worthy of any fashion capital in the world.
Brown Thomas’s “Designer To Watch” was Aideen Gaynor, and she presented a confident collection without a doubt. Separates included swing coats, cropped trousers and culottes constructed from a satin-nylon blend and perforated neoprene. These were layered to create oversized, contemporary silhouettes, which were then softened by floral embellishments and prints, and in some cases given a head-to-toe pink treatment.
My “Ones to Watch” include Nino Sanaia, also one of Brown Thomas’s two runners-up. She gave traditionally masculine elements such as utilitarian khaki, robust wool and brass eyelets and rivets a beautifully (but not overtly) feminine twist by mixing them with velvety silks and “pretty” knife pleats. The clothes were strong without being austere. She also did that very clever thing of imbuing fairly conventional silhouettes with complete freshness through innovative design details. I’d happily wear any one of her pieces tomorrow.
Similarly, any one of Jenny Drea’s pieces would sit happily in my wardrobe. With so much monochrome in the show, it was lovely to see a warm palette of blush tones and burnt oranges emerge onto the catwalk. She handled texture deftly, contrasting neoprene, organza and wool for starters. Her silhouettes didn’t shock, but they had impact in all the right ways. Creative and accessible. A definite winner for me.
William Shannon-Doyle’s wool jumpsuit was also stunning. He reimagined beautifully a piece that almost every designer and high street retailer has featured in their collections over the past few years in one guise or another. Yet Doyle still managed to offer something we haven’t seen before. The yellow top-stitching, oversized eyelet and asymmetric wrap detailing worked beautifully.
JJ Donnnelly, Ciana Keating and Ally Nolan also provided inspiring and elegant offerings. Move over Simone Rocha, here comes the next generation.