Photography: Kirstyn Byrne
Meet Caoimhe Mac Neice, who recently graduated from the Dublin National College of Art and Design with her collection ‘Warp’.
‘Exploring a misleading online persona, a person reduced to pixels on a screen. Garments are reduced to simple geometric shapes reflecting these pixels, which are warped and distorted by the body. Letting construction inform design, as opposed to design informing construction.’
I’m in love wit her super strong yet simple collection and very much admire her guts to abandon her usual tailoring and instead letting the fabric in combination with the body shape the garments. If you’re up for an interesting read on Caoimhe’s point of view do read our conversation below.
Ivania / Please tell us a bit about yourself, how old are you, where did you grow up?
Caoimhe / I am twenty three years old and I grew up in Athlone, a town in the centre of Ireland.
Ivania / When did you decide to study fashion?
Caoimhe / I was always interested in fashion and art, but where I am from it was quite rare for people to go to art college so I never really saw a creative career as an option until I was in my final year of school.
To be honest, even when I went to art college I was still a bit afraid of saying I wanted to do fashion because it is such a competitive and fast-paced industry, but I’m definitely glad I made the right decision!
Ivania / The idea behind the collection of a digital identity is so relevant right now, stories like that of the documentary Catfish or the youtube channel of Dakota Rose. Are that the kinds of misleading online persona’s you refer to?
Caoimhe / Those are quite extreme examples of a misleading online persona. I was far more interested in the white lies the average person would tell on their online profile, the airbrushed version of yourself that you present on facebook or instagram.
Ivania / How did you come up with this concept of your collection? And how did such an abstract idea inspire you to make collection of clothes?
Caoimhe / When I begin a collection it usually revolves around family in some way, and this collection focused on my sister. We would be similar in many ways but when it comes to social media we have completely different attitudes, she embraces it but I find it a bit daunting and invasive.
I just found it strange that when I looked at her facebook profile, I almost wouldn’t recognise that person as the one I grew up with and know inside out, it’s a very warped perception of a person. It was this feeling of being warped and distorted that I wanted to explore for my degree collection
Ivania / When describing the concept of your collection ‘Warp’, you talk about reducing garments to simple geometric shapes. Does reduction always play such a big role in your work?
Caoimhe / I wouldn’t say reduction plays a very important role in my designs, but construction definitely does. I absolutely love pattern cutting and with every collection I do, I always try to push myself when it comes to the technical aspects of making a garment.
With this collection, I was kind of playing around with the idea that people are more creative when they are placed under restrictions. I tried to restrict myself with the shapes I used so I couldn’t rely on designing through pattern cutting like I usually did. I also made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of interference to the fabric, with as little sewing as possible. The aim of the collection was to let these shapes lie as freely and as uninterrupted as possible, the body underneath would warp the fabric, and by doing so, create the silhouette.
Ivania / It is super interesting how you’ve turned around the design process by almost letting the garments shape themselves or letting them be shaped by the wearer. At the same time, your collection holds very structured and clear silhouettes. Did you have the silhouette and shape in mind when working with this concept or did it develop spontaneously?
Caoimhe / Oh yes, it completely developed spontaneously. For me, the whole point of this collection was to get out of my comfort zone and try to design in a different way. Usually I would tend to make very tailored garments where you need to have a clear idea in your mind of what the outcome will be. I wanted to get away from that and almost relinquish control in the design process. By limiting myself to very particular shapes, like squares and rectangles, it meant the degree of control I had over the final design would be quite limited and I found that very exciting and freeing. To just see what happened as opposed to forcing something.
When the clothes are not being worn they lie completely flat in plain rectangles and squares, they don’t look like garments at all, more like grids. It is only when they are put on a person that they take on their shape and form a silhouette. It’s just funny to see something so flat transform into something very structural.
Ivania / What are your plans now that you’ve graduated? Where can we see your future work?
Caoimhe / Right now, my main focus is building up a broader portfolio. I’m designing a collection for S/S 15 at the moment which will be stocked in select boutiques around Dublin in February. I’m also in the process of designing a website which will hopefully be done in the near future so my portfolio will be available on that. In the meantime you can view some of my work here.