RANKED among the world’s top 50 fashion colleges, Limerick School of Art and Design is continuing to mould its students into top class designers with seven of them preparing to represent the faculty in two prestigious competitions.
Four students from the school have been selected as finalists in the reputable Persil Irish Fashion Awards for 2013 – making up half of the overall number of finalists in the national design competition.
To coincide with The Gathering, the brief for student applicants this years was “to celebrate their Irish heritage, their roots, ties and family”.
“Everybody took a different approach,” explained Anne Melinn, head of the school’s fashion department. “They focused on various subjects from Irish Celtic dancing and music, to family trees and Irish poetry.”
The students are busy working on their designs - mainly dresses, according to Anne.
“The garments are being made as we speak,” she continued. “We have just come back from our London buying trip so we were able to get some really nice fabrics out there.”
Earlier this year, the 19 fourth-year students at the college entered the competition by providing an illustration of their design along with an outline of what their inspiration was.
They were also required to outline how they would spend the prize money.
The Persil Irish Fashion Awards is now the largest student fashion design competition in Ireland with a top prize of €10,000. The outfits of the eight finalists will be showcased in selected Dunnes Stores during next June and an item from the winning collection will go into commercial production.
A red coat by last year’s winner Hannah Furlong sold out overnight in Dunnes Stores. Among the judges this year is renowned fashion and costume designer, Peter O’Brien.
The finalists from the Limerick school include Ciara Kilbride, Sarah Ryan, Jessica Kavanagh, and Michael Stewart.
“These particular students have had great work placements because we do work placements from April to September all over the world – very intensive – from Philip Treacy to Marchesa in New York and Ellery in Australia,” said Anne.
“Ciara Kilbride was in India for instance, Michael Stewart was with Natalie B Coleman, Jessica was also in London and Sarah Ryan was with Gareth Pugh in London. I always say to them that they are ambassadors for the department and every time somebody goes out, please God somebody from the college will be taken again which is great.”
Michael Stewart drew inspiration from three sources - The Gathering, the harvest festival and the Aran sweater for his outfit.
“It consists of a waist jacket, tapered, long legged trousers and a wrap around shawl,” explained the 23-year-old from Kilkishen, County Clare.
The big fashion story this week of course was the Oscars and for Michael, best actress nominee Jessica Chastain shone the brightest in her figure-hugging, nude Armani Prive gown. “I loved it - I thought it was so glamorous,” he said.
It is a very busy time for Michael as he is also one of four finalist from the school who is through to the Goldenegg Fashion Innovation Awards which take place on March 28 in Galway.
The students are competing in the Student Designer of the Year category. The theme this year is My Favourite Dress – that I never designed and made until now. The finalists include Michael Stewart, Svitlana Andryiets, Tatsiana Liauchuk-Couqurel and Ciara O’Toole.
“The dress I have designed is a long column shaped dress – it is quite complicated to describe,” said Michael.