Monday 29 May 2017

Chic legend - the amazing creations of Claire Garvey

Kyle River Lanza, student, wears: Faux-lizard-skin and suede studded waistcoat, €289; faux-lizard-skin and wool ruched jacket, €389; dinosaur studded headpiece, €189; suede and wool embroidered cuffs, €169, all Claire Garvey. Trousers; earrings, both model's own
Kyle River Lanza, student, wears: Faux-lizard-skin and suede studded waistcoat, €289; faux-lizard-skin and wool ruched jacket, €389; dinosaur studded headpiece, €189; suede and wool embroidered cuffs, €169, all Claire Garvey. Trousers; earrings, both model's own

Constance Harris

Irish designer Claire Garvey is renowned for her imagination and amazing creations. When Claire and I get together, we usually end up talking about mythology, because her work is often of an epic nature. Most recently, we discussed male mythology, inspired by her recent foray into menswear.

"It is all thanks to Nile Rodgers," Claire tells me, happiness exuding out of her. "He has put shots of my work on his Facebook page, saying, 'one of my favourite designers'. There is another shot where he says, 'Yes, yes, yes!!!' Niles wore Claire's designs to Bette Midler's Halloween ball last year.

Claire met the legendary Nile Rodgers of Chic fame - producer, guitar player and songwriter extraordinaire - at Electric Picnic over two years ago, when she designed an outfit for him. "Two years after the festival, I am still doing stuff for him. Now I can't stop doing menswear," she tells me.

Ever since, Rodgers has been commissioning Claire to create extraordinary jackets for him to wear when he is doing concerts. And also for his famous Chic co-singers, Folami Autumn Changes and Kimberly Davis.

"This menswear collection is different from what I do for Nile Rodgers, though," Claire tells me. "I am even making a kind of kilt for men, like an apron that guys can wear over their jeans. I thought guys would be weird about wearing kilts, but they love it. I always worried about the fact that I am a womenswear designer designing menswear, but there is something about men in kilts - I think they look really powerful."

Claire Garvey's new men's collection plays on the male physique, emphasising their broad shoulders and the tapering of their torso. Some pieces are romantic, while others are tougher, more warrior-like. "The way I work is that when I look at a guy, I then get ideas. The models I used for my shows and shoots are just ordinary guys," Claire explains. "One guy ordered an outfit for his debs. To have someone wearing something like my work to their debs seems incredible."

Claire has been on the road these last few months promoting the collection and supporting charities. She even got the mysterious Jack L to model at a Cradle fundraiser catwalk show she did. She has a great knack for attracting people of different race and culture.

"All the guys have been so supportive, from the guys from Belfast, such as Orin Orio at Phithupia; to the guys in Dublin when I did a menswear show at The Wright Venue in Swords. These were gorgeous, easy-going guys who put their heart and soul into it," Claire tells me. "Guys covered in tats, wearing furry outfits and kilts. I just didn't know men like this existed."

When we met, Claire was working on pieces to enter in a competition organised by French film-maker Luc Besson. "I just can't stop making things," Claire says."It's been my best time ever."

Photography by Cristian Constantiniu and Rob Gardiner

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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