Fine layers of tissue
When they first met at an exhibition several years ago, their appreciation for each other's designs was such that Grainne Finn and Hannah Mullan, of the Irish fashion label Tissue, ended up bartering their work.
"I guess we just really connected with each other's work," recalls Hannah, who had worked in the Irish fashion industry for years, as a pattern cutter with John Rocha, before working with Simone Rocha. Grainne's background was in illustration and print. In 2013, their fashion label, Tissue, was born.
"The idea initially was that we would do some printed scarves," Hannah laughs. "And then we lost the run of ourselves. We both love print, so we decided that this could be something that would separate us a little bit, the fact that we create our own prints for each collection."
Typically, a fashion label buying in fabrics is forced to purchase a certain minimum quantity. With prints, this means having to buy a large amount of one print, and then use it heavily throughout a collection. As Tissue design their own prints, it means they can do small, exclusive print runs. It also means that, unusually, the entire collection, silhouettes as well as prints, springs from the same inspiration source.
This season, that source is 18th-Century silhouette portraits. "It's a very grown-up collection," explains Hannah. "We were looking at the idea of a strong silhouette to start with."
The needlework of the time was also an influence. "We were looking at daguerreotypes - early photographs. They're very early Victorian. I think everybody thinks of high necks and bustles, but it was when people were wearing crinolines. The bodices had details that really worked well when you translated them; you could take them and make them very modern."
Pleat detailing on sleeves and delicate yoke detailing are some of the elements that made their way into the collection.
The pair work on different elements of the line - Grainne designs the prints, and Hannah creates the clothing shapes. "There's always a lot of debate," Hannah says. "We don't fight, but we have a good creative tension. I think the end result is that you do things that you wouldn't do otherwise."
High-quality fabrics are a priority - luxury silks and satins, wool and Irish tweed - and the collections are made in Ireland. Based in Dublin, the pair also work on one-off commissions for customers. "You would often be afraid to do simple things. Because maybe you feel you have to do something crazy. But that's not what people wear, so we feel that we can really do very strong, minimal womanly shapes, that are quite striking," Hannah says.
Their confidence in their minimal approach has grown over the past few years. "It's feminine, but quite austere as well," Hannah says.
Photography by Tiberio ventura
Styling by Kieran Kilgallon
Words by Liadan hynes
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine