Rebecca Marsden is an Award winning Sligo based Irish Designer. She has accomplished so much and yet she is still so friendly and open when you meet her in person. Rebecca won the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards in 2014 – winning both ‘Designer of the Year’ as well as the overall ‘Innovation’ Award. She has also been part of the Brown Thomas ‘Create’ Project in recent years. I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed and without further delay in we go;
What is your first memory of fashion?
Growing up I was fascinated by the Goldwyn girls in the old musicals. I used to dance and I suppose the idea of transforming through costumes instilled a love of fashion and taught me the visual and emotional impact design can have.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue fashion as a career?
I suppose I would have been 15 or 16 when I decided that fashion was something I really wanted to persue. I took a week to visit Kingston University Fashion department in the UK, I loved the creative energy in the studios and came away knowing this was what I wanted to do.
I was offered a place in Kingston but opted to study in Ireland at the Limerick School of Art and Design.
I find that your designs have a very modern feel to them, where do you get your inspiration or influence for them?
I am inspired by all sorts! Im a very tactile person, I like to touch, feel, engage with things. I look to everything, bio sciences, architecture, contemporary art, hardware stores…
There are amazing woods around my studio with a wealth of textures and surfaces, it’s also a great place to get out and clear the head or process thoughts and ideas. Sligo is pretty amazing when it comes to great places with inspiring scenery.
I imagine that day-to-day, your schedule differs hugely. Is there one particular element of your work or schedule that you enjoy most?
I always enjoy getting a great playlist together for the day, it depends what I’m working on at the time, it could be pumped up motivational stuff for trialing fabric samples or something more mellow for when I’m pattern cutting and need to be really focused. Podcasts are great through the working day as well so yeah, I think getting the right backing track to the day can really help put shape on it.
I am actually from Strandhill and love the area so much, do you find it hardier as a designer to live in the West of Ireland or do you think that it gives you any advantages?
It’s a difficult one. I absolutely love living and working in the West of Ireland. I travel up and down to Dublin for shoots and meetings and don’t find that to be a hardship. I lived in Dublin after I graduated but wasn’t in a position to rent living space along with an adequate studio space, here that is not a concern.
I’m definitely a west coast girl, getting out to the beach is an absolute necessity to me and nothing beats the Atlantic! I think I’m very fortunate to live and work in such a stunning place and having Knock airport so close by means that popping back and forth to London for fabrics, meetings etc is very easy.
I love the fact that 2015 was the year of Irish Design and I seen some of your pieces featured in the Fresh Talent Exhibition. Do you think that ID2015 has brought further highlight to Irish Designers in international markets?
I really hope so. ID 2015 has been brilliant in promoting the wealth of design talent we have here. Now that momentum needs to continue, to build year on year through continued supports and open dialogue in order to encourage the growth of the creative/design sector in Ireland.
We have many notable Irish designers who have established their business abroad. Designers need to know that there are structures in place that are going to enable them to establish their business here and that the core industry skills required to grow and develop these businesses are being encouraged.
Speaking of highlighting fashion, Sligo held it’s very own design week in 2015 which I thought was just brilliant. How did you find the events that were lined up as I am aware that you took part in some of them?
It was fantastic to be involved in Sligo’s first design week. There was a great line up of events and speakers. Fresh talent which has toured from Kilkenny, to Dublin came to Sligo so it was really nice to see my work on home turf. I’m hoping it will be the first of many!
Although I am sure hard to choose, is there one moment in your career that stands out as one that you are most proud of?
Ooo that is a hard one! I think it would be when I was asked to be the finale collection to close the International design collective fashion show at the Volvo Ocean Race in 2012. It was my first big fashion event and an amazing opportunity to meet designers from all over the world. It was a very proud moment to see my designs alongside these many established designers.
As a graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design , do you think that people should go to college before they think about ‘being a designer’?
I think its very important to get some sort of formal training if your planning on making a career in the fashion industry, it opens doors to design houses where you can gain invaluable experince. At the same time it certainly isn’t for everyone. There are so many avenues to go down within the fashion industry and areas of buying and styling have become hugely popular as career paths.
I think the best thing anyone can do is get experience. There is nothing like seeing the reality of a working studio, being an assistant on a photoshoot, coming up with window displays for a local boutique, getting a feel for what it really is about fashion that excites you!
Is there any advice that you would give anyone who is thinking of being a fashion designer (something that they don’t warn you of!)?
Once again; get experience!
Will you be releasing a collection in 2016? If so, would you mind sharing some details/inspiration on it?
My S/S 16 is being shown at the ARC show next month. It is a playful collection called ‘Noughts and Crosses’. It features quite a lot of denim, which is a first for me and combines at a number of different fabric treatments with some comfortable oversized sillouhettes.
What does the future hold for Rebecca Marsden Designs?
Great things!, fingers crossed! 😉
And finally – a VERY important Tea question? Barrys or Lyons? And favourite dipping biscuit? 🙂
There you have me! I’m not a regular tea drinker. Biscuit wise, chocolate digestive with a coffee.
A massive thank you to Rebecca for agreeing to be interviewed. I have admired her work for quite a while and it is always great getting to know those who inspire you better. You can follow Rebecca via her website & Facebook and I cannot wait to see more of her SS16 Collection!
All images above kindly provided by Rebecca.