Dearbhaile Joyce is an up and coming Galway Designer whose designs I recently seen at the Young Innovators:Fashion Panel event. The event itself was held in the very delightful Bank of Ireland Workbench. Dearbhaile was on the panel discussing her design journey to date and where the inspiration for her collection came from. From there I just had to contact her as her collection left quite the impression and I was delighted when she agreed to meet.
We decided to meet in the relaxed atmosphere of McSwiggans and talk fashion while having some delicious food. Dearbhaile also brought along some of her sketches which was fascinating to go through as it was amazing to see how the design process can go in different directions but always focuses back on a key point.
And so began the discussion on all things fashion related;
What was your first fashion memory
Memories of Sleeping Beauty from the Disney fairytale, and she was wearing a pink/coral dress – I was always drawing dresses from a very young age. Even at Christmas I would always get books with dresses in them and design colouring books – my parents must have known
When did you first come in contact with fashion?
There is nothing in Galway. The Galway Design Week Fashion Trail is the first time I have really seen fashion being a proper focal point in Galway. Dearbhaile first came into contact with fashion not in Galway but in the pages of magazines
What made you decide to take design as a serious career path?
Well actually architecture was going to be my focus! It is still design orientated so I guess that has always been a focus of mine. I liked the freedom of fashion design. It is more do it yourself as opposed to being trapped within the rules which I would have been with architecture. I like that I can express myself and how I am feeling through fashion.
Has your relationship with fashion changed since you are now a designer?
YES!! I now know what fabrics were used and how much they would have cost to make. I appreciate handmade garments so much more than fast fashion items. I also have so much respect for the designs who do handcraft their goods, this includes couture pieces which are all hand stitched and handmade.
You studied at Limerick School of Art & Design, do you think that this experience stands to you as a designer?
Yes it does as I now understand the process of how things are done. I learnt the skills of being a designer from the course, you cannot I believe go into an internship with a fashion house without knowing the basics. In the course that I did I learned all aspects of design – not just the drawing of it – but how to handstitch and use a machine – this is invaluable when you are starting out. It means that you can fully make your own pieces and not have to hire someone to put them togeather for you.
What was the very first piece that you designed?
It was a dress, it had twisted leather straps (that took ages to do!) and it was not good! But I learned a lot from doing it and it has helped improve my skills. Every piece that you make makes you better. And no she does not still have it!
Your current collection has a very specific theme – can you please go into more detail.
My current collection is based around the theme of drowning. Not the emotional side of drowning but the physical side – what actually happens to the body. It sounds quite dark but it is all about the movements and reactions that happen. I trained as a lifeguard and I think that the training that we did has really stuck with me and really influenced the collection.
I was very honoured to have the pleasure of exploring Dearbhaile’s sketch books. You rarely get to have such a view into the mind of a designer and it was such a great experience. She has given me permission to share some images so here are some images from her sketch books to give you an insight into her design process.
What are your plans for 2016 and future collections?
I will be starting my next collection in January. I won’t be doing 4 collections in the year – this is too expensive and too much when you are just starting out. I hope to get a graduate visa to America next year and then intern over there. The graduate visa itself is expensive but it should be worth it.
Also, maybe go to Canada. There is actually an amazing design element in Toronto and loads of Canadian labels, though they would be more known in Canada than over here but there are some amazing opportunities.
I would like to get stocked in Arnotts and boutiques around the country. And another dream would be to own a fabric shop. There is so little choice in Ireland to buy fabrics and if there are stores here they are quite expensive.
What is the difference in buying fabric in other counties?
If you go to London it is very different – you can buy so many different types of fabric for a much lower price. I would love to be able to buy Irish fabrics but they are just too difficult to get and often too expensive as well. It is a dream of mine to option my own fabric store and have the choice available to other Irish Designers as well.
Are there any designers that inspire you?
Emma Manley! I love her designs but also her entrepreneurial skills. I always watch what she is doing – I stalk her on all of her social media accounts! I like to see what she is doing as she is really good at PR.
I also like Simone and John Roche – they use textures similar to mine and we have a similar idea in design. I also like my patterns to be disorted (btw that was a new word for me!). They are so good at what they do as well that you can learn from them.
Are there any cultures around the world that inspire you?
I like the Japanese culture and how the traditional clothes.
Many of your pieces seem Zen – do you think that is where this influence came from? Yes I supposed it is and you are not the first person to say that to me. I also weirdly like the Amish. I can’t explain why but they just appeal to me.
What is your favourite fabric to date to work with?
Tulle! I love what you can do with it and what it looks like. It’s so light and airy. Also to note is that in the image above from the Young Innovators Panel – Dearbhaile made the full outfit including the beautiful tulle skirt
What has been your career highlight to date?
I did a fashion show in Cong (In Galway) and that was the first time people outside of college had seen my work. It was great as it was kinda something that I did out on my own and I got loads of good feedback afterwards.
Some brands seem to be really embracing social media and ‘being online’ but some brands appear to not be investing in technology – do you think designer need to?
I think that behind the scenes can be quite cool and also seeing fashion weeks as well. My favourite is Instagram – it is so visual and it can make people want to buy what they see people wearing.
Some of the big couture houses don’t need to be on social media – they sell theirs goods anyways – they have no need for it.
Do you think that being an ‘IRISH Designer’ will give you an advantage in international markets?
Yes I think it will definitely be an advantage. Look at Simone and John Roche – they are the perfect example. Part of them selling themselves in the USA and everywhere else has been that they were Irish. It was one of their selling points. Another good example would be Don O’Neill who has done really well. Sure they just love the Irish!
With fashion moving so fast and the rise of ‘fast fashion’ and documentaries like ‘The True Cost’ coming out do you think that people are thinking more about where their clothes come from?
Yes they are as a whole I think. There will always be people who will buy the cheap fast clothes but people are getting more into ‘Eco-Fashion’. It’s a big phase at the moment. Are the fabrics ethically sources or organic? Do they use recycled cotton wool?
I think that the focus is more on how the clothes are made and trying to be ethical with that but you have to think about how the fabric is made as well. Some of the processes are so toxic and there are so many chemicals used – we need to look at this as well and the conditions of these workers.
If in 2016 you could move the fashion conversation to cover a topic what would it be?
It would be to always be ethical. Know where your fabric comes from as well as how/where the clothes are made. Who made the fabric?
Since you are just finished college, what advice would you have for people thinking of studying art and design?
Number one – Think – do you actually want to do this course or do you just like the idea of being a fashion designer? The course is very hard, very focused and you need to be able to take criticism. Your lecturers will change your designs and be VERY honest with what they think of your creations so you need to be open to that. There are constant assessments and it is not just people swanning around in fashionable clothes drawing designs.
Number two – if you want to be a stylist then do not study art and design! Each year people drop out of the course as they want to be a stylist and not a designer. Know what you want to do and if the course will suit your end career.
And lastly now for some quick fire ones:
What is the one piece of make-up that you cannot live without?
Mascara – any brand though I do love Benefit ‘They’re Real’
If you were to have a theme song, what would it be?
Dearbhaile than jumped to check her Spotify and came up with two – her two current favourites! (1) Ain’t no mountain (2) Son of a Preacher Man
Biggest fashion mistake?
There have been quite a few… one of them would be big thick black eyeshadow ploughed on and then a black and white stripped top with wet look leggings and black chucky heels There was another one here involving a Vampire outfit for Halloween that I am sworn to strict silence on 🙂
Currently lusting after (fashion or beauty)?
A Levi’s Jacket. The original ones – proper vintage. Where you could have sections in patches
Favourite trend from last 50 years?
Dungarees. Also when women first started dressing in men clothing. Like wearing loose Levi’s – that type of look
And finally – a VERY important Irish Tea question… Barrys or Lyons? And favourite dipping biscuit?
Barrys and a cookie – any type of Cookie willl do!
Thank you so much to Dearbhaile for agreeing to the interview, she is certainly a designer to watch and I leave you with some of the official images from her first collection