Interview with Designer Emma Manley

Emma Manley Interview with Floralesque 2Dublin born Emma Manley is an amazing Irish Designer who really is helping to put Ireland on the map with regards our home grown design talents. Emma is the creative director and designer at Manley and her drive and passion comes across in each piece .

Emma started her career by studying fashion design at the Grafton Academy of design and on graduating, Emma then moved to New York where she interned with luxury sportswear label VPL. A move to London to intern with Alexander McQueen, London on the embellishment team and this is where she really honed her excellent skills in embellishment and design. Experience like that is invaluable and I really think that this is has influenced her collections.

Emma then made the move to launch Manley in 2011 and from there her success has just soared in the years since. Her Spring Summer 2016 collection is just a stunning collection of handcrafted luxury and the colour scheme is one of my favourites – a combination of bubblegum pink, Kelly green, white, a shade of cornflower blue and also a beautiful midnight navy. The embellished collars add a flattering addition to the pieces and are beautifully intricate while still showing Manley’s characteristic playfulness.

Was there a certain point that you knew you wanted to be a designer?

Way too early on. I’m the youngest of three girls with a fashion designer for a mother. Need I say more?!?!

What was the very first piece that you designed?

A leather skirt made out of leather swatches from a car company to help customers choose leather interior! I then made my debs dress from ties that Black Tie {a suit rental company} gave to me after they had rented them out out so many times they were no longer fit for purpose. Yup, thats what being young and broke does to you!

Where does the Manley aesthetic draw it’s inspiration?

Love, life and all it’s going’s on!

What are your favourite fabrics to work with?

Leather, leather and finally… leather!

Do you have any hints as to what we can expect from Emma Manley in 2016

Pssst… accessories… the kind you drape off your shoulder!

Where did your inspiration for your SS16 line come from?

SS16 drew inspiration from the rich colour, bold geometric shapes and sharp lines of the De Stijl art movement. For SS16 I’ve reduced design to its purest form and experimented with colour. The beauty is all in the detail with tantalising tonal combinations, sharp design and luxurious fabrics, made to be worn with stylish irreverence, it’s a new confident mood, centered on simplicity.

Are there any designers that inspire you?

Of course, I appreciated good design, not just Manley! Simone Rocha and Proenza Schouler are current favourites.

You have worked as an intern for both VPL and McQueen, an amazing start to your career. What did you learn from being an intern?

After graduating I headed for New York to intern with luxury sportswear label VPL. Its an awful long story that involves being homeless, Fashion TV and plenty of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ moments but I loved every single second of it!

From New York I went to london to intern with Alexander McQueen. There my love for embellishment was born and so to was Manley believe it or not. My time at McQueen taught me what I really wanted from my career. Interning is the best education any student or graduate can ask for, on the job experience mixed with heaps of sweat and plenty of tears is exactly what is needed for us fashion folk!

Is there any advice that you would give anyone who is thinking of being a fashion intern (something that they don’t warn you of!)?

Be a sponge, absorb everything around you. It’s the only time you will have the opportunity to learn, learn, learn. Bitch all you like about it being tough work, but know that you will be better for that experience and have a more rounded view of the fashion world.

Do you think that being an Irish designer is an advantage in the international fashion markets?

No and mostly so because of the lack of government support to help us Irish designers reach markets further afield. If you look to other countries, they nurture their talent and support it in it’s journey to becoming a viable, profitable business. Here, we have nothing. Look at our amazing talents such as Simone Rocha, Danielle Romeril and J.W Anderson all living and working in London following sponsorship from the BFC and Topshop Newgen programme. Why couldn’t Ireland have given them that?

What are your thoughts on the Irish Fashion industry?

IT’S TIME! In all seriousness, I think now, right now, is more than exciting for the Irish fashion industry. We’re on it. We have great designers we just need to focus on nurturing them through this tough time and hopefully soon, these designers will be the one to initiate the rebirth of Ireland’s CMT industry {cut make trim – essentially manufacturing}.

Since you have moved and lived in different countries, so you think it is important for anyone wanting to be a designer to travel? Do you think that the added life experience gives you an edge?

Everywhere I have been has inspired me in some way. Most recently I travelled around Sri Lanka, I’m still digesting everything from that trip and can’t wait to let all that inspiration loose on Manley SS17. In saying that, Manley to date has been inspired mostly by Ireland, Irish countryside and Irish folklore tales. Does that make those collections any less inspired? Or have less of an edge? I don’t think so.

Do you have any advice for upcoming designers? Any tips that you have learned along the way?

Determination, patience and persistence are a must for a job like mine. Design is a labour of love, you would want to be head over heels about it for it to work.

And some random ones!

What do you think the biggest trend for 2016 will be?
Metallics are here to stay!

Have you ever worn something that when you seen the photos that you instantly regretted?
Plenty of times but hey, if it felt right at the time and I was happy then what’s done is done!

What are you current wardrobe staples?
The Manley SS16 Boxter Tee. Dress it up, dress it down, you’re 100% set for any occasion.

What do you typically wear while you work?
It depends on what the hell I’m doing. Messy studio days are jeans, jumper and a Manley necklace. For days when I’m out and about a meetings, I go all out head to ankle in Manley, the shoes are we haven’t conquered yet!

And finally – a VERY important Irish Tea question? Barrys or Lyons? And favourite dipping biscuit? 🙂
Barry’s without doubt. I’m only allowed dunk the gluten free stuff and I’m a bit of a no sugar gal so its usually some kind of a homemade sugar free, goodness filled protein bar. Yep, I did just say that. I’m one of them…

Emma Manley Interview with Floralesque 1

A massive thank to Emma for doing the interview, it’s one that we have been working togeather on for a while and I am delighted on how it turned out. She is honestly one of the nicest people around and also one of Ireland’s most talented designers.

Emma has an amazing website which you can also shop from by clicking here and you can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and you will end up spending hours on her Pinterest! I am in love with her necklaces – these add such a statement pop to any outfit – you can look at them here as well.

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