Irish fashion sphere grew rapidly lately. In the last few years, the world’s biggest names such as Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker or Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge have been dressed by Irish designers. David O’Malley, Fashion and Textile Designer, talks about Irish fashion industry, his inspiration and his future national and international fashion projects.
Mr. O’Malley described what fashion represents to him and how he started being interested in this domain: “For me, fashion is a body of work that I am able to express my creativity. I have always been interested in arts and really it was the only thing that I was good at. I have delved in so many different areas; going to college, I got to explore fine art through print making, textile design, painting. Going through all these different areas, I was able to pick one thing that I would be able to express myself the best.”
I consider Fashion as a form of expression of art.
When it comes about his inspiration, the Irish designer doesn’t have any rules. It can come from different directions. “My inspiration I can get it from few things, I can get it from previous projects that I have run, examples would be Film Noir and Neo Noir project, costume design; then other sources like paganism, the occult, and history as well. Fabric manipulation is a good starting point as well, while you can work with so many different tactile fabrics and manipulate them as much as possible to create different outcomes. So, these are just a few previous things that I am currently looking at, reflexive surfaces, iridescents. This season and last season I found the iridescents colors very fun to work with and multiples, like beetle wings and hand embroidery.”
David O’Malley has many unusual techniques that he is using when it comes about manipulation of fabrics.
What I generally do is working with fabrics that work well together in one section, manipulation through time, knotting, scratching, burning the fabric itself; then using other techniques like 3D, laser cutting and hand cutting as well. So, it is just a mixture of techniques.
For the Irish designers it is very important to be updated with the latest working techniques in the fashion industry. “The laser cutting I’ve done it for the past two years, if you want to design a print and then you want to see it in another form, it’s so beneficial to use this technique. Working with new techniques and new technologies is definitely one thing that I am delving into,” said the designer.
David O’Malley was involved in multiple projects and created many garments and show pieces, but he has a favorite creation. He said that “on my very first collection I did a Minotaur headpiece and it was made out of piton skin and was involved a lot of manipulation of leathers, that was my favorite piece I have made. It was the most praised as well, it was two meters long headpiece.”
Not only the used techniques are important in the creation process, the materials and fabrics are crucial. Mr. O’Malley is keep working unconventionally. He can use for his concepts conventional fabrics as leather, but distinctive materials as beetle wings.
Definitely has to be the leather, the fabrics that I am working with, I love fur, but I mainly work with leather. I have also used pony hair, Mongolian fur, beetles wings; creating your own fabric is pretty unusual as well, and working with holographic leather. I tend to put cashmere even into summer collections as well, it is just one of the fabrics that it is so lovely to feel, it is so soft and everyone loves it.
When it comes about the color scheme that he use, the designer acknowledged that “I think is more black the color that I am working with and hits of colors, greys I have used before, but constantly, more than anything I use black.”
When it comes about Irish fashion industry, David O’Malley admitted that “six years ago there was a trend that everybody was leaving Ireland, after finishing college, and it seemed a little bit redundant because there was no plan set in place, they saw no future in pursuing fashion design with the Irish market, but now, things have changed. I stayed and I developed my skills to the point where I have a team and I was able to make a presence of myself over here.”
The designer was very content to explain that there is no need for him and his colleagues within the industry to leave the country anymore. “Some of my friends who are designers are living in Ireland some of the time, but they have areas where they can go out to and have got international practice, particularly Polina Yakobson, she have got the International Talent Support in Italy. She is an Irish Designer that have got the links outside. Myself I have got links to Berlin with Berlin Film Fashion Festival and Vogue Fashion Festival.”
Also, he is encouraging other designers to not leave Ireland as the Irish fashion industry settled and developed lately in a good direction. “As well as being part of the Council of Irish Fashion Designer, I believe it makes a strong cohort of designers that have one voice and one vision. Compare with a couple of years ago, things have definitely changed, there are designers that now are staying here, they do see that they can work nationally and internationally as well without running away to a different country. The most important thing that people are realizing is that staying over here, as much as possible, and feel that this is your base, and if you want to explore different countries, at least you have this as a back-up,” said Mr. O’Malley.
In the end, he talked about the projects that he is involved at the moment. One of the most important for him is the autumn-winter collection where he explained that “I will be using the biggest amount of fur I have used so far in any collection.” Also, he was involved in creating one craft show piece for the 150th anniversary of WB Yeats.
Moreover, at the moment, he is collaborating with a Belgian 3D print company. Mr. O’Malley said that “they are currently trying to 3D print clothing but they need a designer for that, so that is where I step in.” For the TV series Vikings David O’Malley will be working in order to create a leather work. He acknowledged “that will be fun.