ANOTHER rising star in the world of fashion was born on the catwalk – in the unlikely location of the Milk Market last week – as Limerick School of Art and Design announced their fashion designer of the year.
With a handpainted collection inspired by the relationship between humans and the spirit world, Michael Stewart, 24, from Kilkishen, Co Clare was announced the overall winner of the fashion show.
Nineteen final-year students showcased their awe-inspiring collections at the event, sponsored by Bord Gáis Networks, drawing on a myriad of themes ranging from Barbie dolls to the East End gangsters the Kray twins.
With his Totem collection, Michael won the award for the best overall collection based on use of fabric and concept development.
The award includes a bursary of €2,500 to help kick-start his fashion career and a year’s mentoring programme with retail expert Eddie Shanahan.
Michael, who carried out his work placement in Giles in London and with Irish designer Natalie B Coleman, said his collection was inspired by worship, pagan rituals, shamanic ceremonies and the relationship between humans and the spirit world. Earlier this year he was named the winner in the student designer of the year 2013 category at the Fashion Innovation Awards presented by Golden Egg productions in Galway.
Leading Irish designer and former LSAD graduate Joanne Hynes was among the top designers who showcased their work at the unique gathering of up and coming designers.
Hynes has designed clothes for celebrities like Amy Huberman, Jessie J and Tulisa, while the school’s other fashionable exports present at the show included Natalie B. Coleman, Tim Ryan, Danielle Romeril, and Brenda Aherne of the Electronic Sheep knitwear label.
The students concerned have recently completed work placements which have taken them all over the world to prestigious design houses including Sharon Wauchob Paris, Barbara I Gongini Denmark, Alexander Wang New York, Philip Treacy London and Amit Aggarwal India.
“Limerick School of Art and Design’s fashion department is going from strength to strength and this year will see the school participate in London’s Fashion Graduate Show, a first for an Irish college,” said Mike Fitzpatrick head of LSAD. The winner of the AIB business development award for the collection showing the most commercial potential, which includes a bursary of €2,500, and a year’s mentoring programme went to Svitlana Andryiets whose collection was influenced by the book and films of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo using diverse materials including neoprene cord.
The Blarney Woollen Mills knitwear graduate design award went to Lauren O’Reilly which includes a bursary of €2,000 and an internship for one year at the company. Her vibrant collection was based around frivolity of childhood play focusing on her own adoration of Barbie dolls as a child.
The show marked the first of a two year partnership by Bord Gáis Networks which includes key fashion events and a number of initiatives designed to nurture and support home-grown talent in the fashion design sector and promote Limerick as an international educational and enterprise centre.
A fashion incubator centre, the first of its kind in Ireland, is to be established next year by the Limerick School of Art & Design to nurture homegrown talent with plans to source EU funding for the enterprise.
The college is also introducing a new diploma course in knitted textiles in September under the direction of Liz Spillane; already there have been 50 applications for the 20 places.
Currently three graduates specialising in knitwear are successfully manufacturing in Limerick, including Áine Behan whose designs were selected for Year of Culture 2014, resulting in an order for 80,000 caps and scarves.