So, what do the Danish supermodel, Helena Christiansen and the inventor of the wrap dress, Diane Von Furstenberg, have in common with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi? A shock of white-blonde and pink hair plus a duck farm in Monaghan, it seems.
No, no, neither the Prince nor Helena has gone punk or signed up to Big Brother in rural Ireland – but what a weird and wonderful changeup that would make. Nope, what this lot have in common is their shared interest and collection of the Irish abstract artist (who last year added Fashion Designer to her CV), Helen Steele.
And before you say it, we’re aware that a punk called Helen who lives on a farm sounds like an oxymoron.
Indeed, maybe we’re reading into her punk sensibilities a bit much, but with funky hair like hers and an abstract, print-oriented fashion label carried by twenty international stores plus a past pinned-down as the front-woman of a punk group, let’s just say she’s more Courtney Love than Simply Red.
So, other than her client list being almost as varied as her biography, what makes this lady and her label, Helen Steele, different from the rest? Well, this stuff is art. Literally. Steele explains, “[My plan was always] to put into practice what I do on canvas in the studio onto fabric… The process always starts with the paint.”
Indeed, her methods sound somewhat in keeping with Jackson Pollock’s paint splatters – all chance and chaos – except the outcome is far more psychedelic. “Myself and my team propel layers of multi-coloured paints into the air with the aid of wind machines, leaf-blowers and chainsaws. We ground the busier bright prints with little bits of black and blue, and then use mad fluoros to balance that out. We then film the process, taking stills from the footage and creating our prints from this. The print dictates the shape of the garment.”
Perhaps most significantly, Steele describes how she picked each colour with colour therapy in mind, adding, “To me, what I am creating is a work of art that you can wear.”
So, whoever quarrelled that fashion couldn’t be art, or said that a good outfit wasn’t a legitimate pick-me-up for when you’re feelin’ blue, Helen Steele would beg to differ.
Michelle Doyle @michelleanstar