I first noticed Isabel Gray when looking at the 2nd Space website
and just fell in love with her colourful designs. They are a combination of diverse textiles, cute embellishments and all of her pieces are just so vibrant and full of colour that you can’t not fall like them! As an under-graduate of Limerick School of Art & Design and a current intern of Jill deBurca I wanted to talk to her about her design journey to date.
Credit: Mary-Cate Smith of the Fashion Horn wearing Isabel’s love heart pumps. Photo credit; Sean Moore
Have you always had an interest in fashion/design?
Fashion has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up in a dressing up box, mix and matching my mum’s old pieces and my interest just grew from there.
Do you remember when you decided to take it seriously as a career?
I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in fashion, so when I was 14 I started taking sewing lessons with a seamstress. Then, during the summer I completed a pattern drafting course in the Grafton Academy. I made the real decision though, when I started my portfolio for college at the end of transition year.
Can you tell us a bit about the course that you are doing in Limerick School of Art & Design?
It’s a 4 year BA course in fashion design and I absolutely love it! This year as a 2nd year, I got to help out with the graduate collections, some of which were featured in Vogue Italia! The college is in the top 50 places in the world to study fashion. It’s a brilliant group of people who I work. And I’m really looking forward to starting my 3rd year, as we have to do a 3 month internship in a fashion house as a part of the course. It is a brilliant way to get hands on industry experience.
Do you think it is important for those interested in a career in design to study the craft in college?
Its a good place to start but I don’t think it is the only way. Art college is great, being surrounded by like-minded people and having access to great facilities.
Where does the inspiration for your pieces come from?
Exhibitions and looking at what other young designers around me are creating, is always a stimulating source. I was recently in the Mexican embassy for an embroidery exhibition and you just know its good, when you’re itching to get back to your sewing machine because you have so many new ideas.
Your work has some amazing textures. What are your favourite fabric to work with?
Thank-you! I’m very conscious that the fashion industry produces a lot of waste, so I take advantage of the excess materials from college assignments and give them an edge by embroidering, embellishing or dying them. But I particularly love transparent fabrics.
Do you intend to say working with accessories or do you intend to move into clothing design as well?
I hope to continue with accessories as well as developing and experimenting with clothing design. I make the pieces to suit the individual boutiques.
So with the Bastion Gallery in Athlone, I like creating earrings that will suit the quirky Irish aesthetic. The same with the Lucky Lane in Limerick, I like the earrings to reflect the vintage, retro vibe. Where as with 2nd Space by Om Diva in Dublin, I have the freedom to develop some clothing pieces alongside the accessories.
Who are your favourite designers at the moment?
I’m obsessed with Irish fashion, I love Dolly Delinquent, Jill De Burca and Simone Rocha. Atelier 27 in Om Diva is a brilliant place to spot emerging Irish talent.
2nd Space by Om diva is such a great boutique – you must have been delighted to get stocked there. Do you have any advice to any other emerging designers who want to get stocked in stores?
Being apart of Om Diva’s young designer project has been a fantastic platform for my work. I have been featured on the Fashion Horns blog and in Totally Dublin magazine. Ruth Ni Loinsigh, the brains behind it, is an absolute genius! She started the project as a way to introduce graduates and under graduates to the industry, while giving them the freedom to experiment with their designs, which is a real luxury.
When I was first trying to get stocked, I worked a lot with my instragram, @Isabel_Gray_design to promote myself. Then I started, walking into shops with my earrings on a display and asking if they could sell them.
What does the future hold for Isabel Gray Designs?
Well I’m currently doing a 6 week internship with Jill De Burca. So I’m getting plenty of inspiration for my A/W collections, which will soon be available in stores!
You may also remember that I recently did an interview with the amazing Jil deBurca here.
A massive thank you to Isabel for talking with Floralesque and I would highly recommend that you check out her vibrant Instagram
and I am really looking forward to seeing what Isabel creates in the future – certainly one to watch!
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!
All images kindly provided by Isabel and credits noted where requested.