As a socially conscious teen born into a rough neighbourhood, I was particularly conscious of being hemmed in at all corners by The Great Unwashed. Immersing myself in poetry and art from a young age, I would often wish our neutral country was thrust into a period of political instability, just so my cohorts at school would care………about something, anything. I suppose you could say I am, or at least was, a fighter. I loved a good cause.
The greatest day of my school life was when a cow got loose on the grounds of the school. I distinctly remember my Maths teacher Brid, in the middle of an equation, muttering incredulously ‘a cow. A cow or a bullock.’ Her discombobulation was met at first by some crowd heckling but once it was deciphered that there was in fact a cow on the loose, the excitement that ensued was magic. The local drug pusher (let’s call her Vicky) was up on her feet and within minutes, the cow was given a name, a mental illness and a bloody brilliant backstory. Daisy (or was it Betsy?) had fled from the farm after the death of her beloved and had come to lay herself at the foot of her lover’s grave. She had seen the Pope (we were all good, bad and really bad Catholics but Catholics nonetheless), had good vibrations, done speed, been in a car crash and brought up three men and a baby. There was a fear that at any stage the cow, who was presumed to be mad, would burst through the door at any stage and kill us all. It was wonderful.
Make Hay, not War
I suppose you could say I am drawn to imperfection. It’s why I rathered Bill to Hillary, Leandra to Chiara and I’ll take Grace over Anna any day. It is with this mentality that I am drawn to the designs of Dublin-born, London-based Danielle Romeril. My first introduction to Danielle was with her spring/summer 2015 collection when she won funding from NEWGEN. This collection called to mind a dystopian future, one in which clothes ceased to be adornment and became armour. Mirroring the societal decay, garments were constructed from patching together various fabrics and materials. The spring/summer 2016 collection cites a tropical paradise as a major reference point but the collection still reflects in it an ethical, undone feel. The hemlines are slightly deconstructed, pockets appear where they shouldn’t and edges are frayed; these clothes are rough around the edges but executed with the mastery of craft that Danielle’s designs have become lauded for.
Women on the Edge
I like my women like I like my coffee. Strong, full-bodied and nuanced. The women who inspire me are real, the qualities I most admire are bravery and loyalty. I am drawn to the outsider; Emily Dickinson and her morbid intensity, Tilda’s fearless fashion sense, Marina Abramovic‘s commanding presence, Bjork’s haunting vocals, Cindy Sherman‘s grotesque self-portraits. And Danielle’s designs exude fierce femininity. Garnering inspiration from two female artists, Romeril’s ‘Gone Fishin’ collection (of which I am wearing the jacket and the skirt) has a ‘don’t -mess-with-me/I’m-exactly-who -you want-around-in-a-Zombie-Apocalypse’ kind of vibe.
I have an unnatural hatred of gilets. Even the word offends me. There’s nothing that says ‘the only thing I’ll be mounting this weekend is the Sugarloaf and Jean Byrne says there’ll be a mighty wind but you can bet it’ll be fierce muggy all the same’ than a gilet. But here I am wearing…………I just can’t bear to admit it, a sleeveless jacket. It’s not goretex or padded with duck down or goose feathers and it isn’t reversible. But the pockets are big enough to hold a baseball bat (for beating zombie brains, obviously) and two Nokia 33-10s (for when you actually need phone power, these bad boys will last two weeks). Let’s just say it’s utilitarian chic. I will be wearing this in winter with black skinny jeans and a polo neck and I may even use it for some wind-breaking although I’d never admit that to my mother.
Less is More, More or Less
I used to go crazy every year on the River Island sale and buy a wagon load of itty, bitty cheap, light tops and dresses. As my ovaries begin to recoil in this,my thirty third year, I have made a conscious effort to buy less volume, more quality. And to support fledgling designers, in particular the myriad of Irish talent flourishing right now in the world of fashion. Recently, I bought one of Jennifer Byrne‘s ethereal designs at Om Diva’s new store, 2nd Space. The best way to afford a designer piece is at a sample sale. I bought this jacket at Tropical Popical this summer when Danielle had her sample sale and it went for €90, well worth the investment. Same with another one of my favourite designers, Natalie B Coleman who had some amazing steals at her sample sale last year. Danielle is actually holding a sample sale today in Hoxton Gallery, 89 Old Street, from 9am-8pm so get on down and nab yourself a majorly discounted designer piece you’ll have for years.
Photos: Sean Moore
Makeup: Sarah Lanagan
Styling and concept: Mary Cate Smith (me)