Limerick designer Aoife sets her sights on the fashion industry

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Mungret woman Aoife McNamara with a piece from her graduate collection, which is called Anáil. She is also wearing one of her own designs – a three-piece suit

Mungret woman Aoife McNamara with a piece from her graduate collection, which is called Anáil. She is also wearing one of her own designs – a three-piece suit

A LOCAL young fashion designer, whose pieces have been worn by SoSueMe blogger Suzanne Jackson and Limerick’s own Celia Holman Lee, has set her sights firmly on taking over the fashion industry, writes Maria Flannery.

Aoife McNamara, a Mungret woman who has just graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design, has previously worked as an intern at Marc Jacobs in New York - and is already becoming well-known for her very own signature design features.

Expert tailoring, exaggerated silhouettes and puffball sleeves are all usually incorporated in Aoife’s recognisable style.

The entrepreneurial designer had already built an audience as a blogger while still a student at LSAD. She is now taking orders for her final collection on her website,

Her stint in New York is what inspired Aoife’s final collection, which draws on ‘a reflection of Ireland’.
The collection is titled ‘Anáil’, a word which means breathe in Irish. The six pieces are an homage to Annie Moore, the first Irish immigrant to enter the US. Aoife drew inspiration from this feminist figure, who faced her fears when she embarked on that journey.

“I spent my first days in New York taking in such a huge, vast city where everything was new to me, and thinking about all the Irish immigrants like Annie Moore who made their way there years ago during the famine,” said Aoife.

“They must have felt the same way as me - awestruck, vulnerable but eager to learn and work. Before I started working on Anáil, I paid a visit to Ellis Island and I was taken in by the stories I heard about all these Irish people who went to the ‘New World’ many years before me, mesmerised by the possibility of a new life. I imagined these impoverished, eager and strong women arriving to Ellis Island when I designed the pieces,” she added.

Making use of deconstruction with materials such as wool, tweed, and woven yarns, Aoife focused on Irish heritage. The finished result, featuring billowing sleeves and fitted corsetry, connotes a ‘Celtic peasant with a romantic feel'.

“Through the exploration of labour intense work on the soil of Ireland, I was deeply inspired by the development of a 3D weaving technique applied with willow and reeds - creating a shape and volume in relation to restricting the body combined with a modern element of tailoring.”

Aoife has introduced Victorian silhouettes into the pieces, with the juxtaposition of dry wool, corduroy, tweeds and reeds contrasting with the highly decorative damask and silks in certain pieces.

“I feel the result of the collection highlights the rawness of poverty versus the vibrant dream of starting a new life in America for this immigrant whose story I heard as a tourist on Ellis Island.”

Aoife herself has high hopes of conquering the fashion industry after completing her course in Limerick. Empowering women is the message she wants to give with her designs - and with strong tailoring and bright colours as standard, it’s no surprise to hear that Amal Clooney is her dream client.