This year, Atelier 27 at Om Diva - Ruth Ni Loinsigh's visionary concept-fashion floor dedicated to supporting emerging and edgy Irish designers - is celebrating its 10th birthday.
One of the many talents that I first discovered through Atelier 27 was Alice Halliday. Alice's collections had a gentle, retro feel, though they were also modern and feminine. Her use of unusual fabrics and distinctive shapes reminiscent of 1930s/1940s undergarments, such as silky bed jackets and slip dresses, always delighted me.
Since then, I have noticed a 1970s bohemian influence to her work, largely through her fabric prints. Now, having met her, I understand why.
"Seventies bohemia is a big influence on me. Growing up, my parents had a 'make and do' attitude. In a lot of what I create, I use vintage scarves. Friends give me pieces as well. So I drape them into tops, skirts and so on," Alice tells me.
"Draping is my passion. Creating is my passion. Especially when I get to use antique lace, napkins, doilies; that kind of thing. For me, it is special to use old pieces with their own story, and create something new.
She adds, "There is no point in creating more clothing waste. I don't see the point of it. I love nature. It is inspiring to me. To take care of the environment is important."
Alice has her studio in Skibbereen, west Cork, where she produces her collections and meets clients for special commissions, such as bridal wear. Singer Florence Welch has a very special piece by her. "It's a richly embellished cape made from a tablecloth," Alice explains. Alice also sells in Skibbereen's excellent vintage-with-new-discoveries store, Liberty & Jasmine.
Alice loves living and working in her home of west Cork because of the richness of talent around, and the ability to collaborate with so many creatives.
Such as Sanna Isbister, whose beautiful hats are featured throughout our fashion shoot, under her Sannainspires millinery label. Sanna has her own store, Shine Boutique, in Glengarriff. Alice also collaborates with contemporary knitwear designer, Sharon Rose McKeever, who sells in the brilliant West Cork Crafts store in Skibbereen.
Most of the designers on our pages today are living and working in the west Cork area.
"Cork is great because there is a network of creative people who support each other," Alice says. "But I guess we are in a bit of a bubble, and so we do need to keep looking outside of it. It isn't easy to 'break in' from here."
True. But would the work be as special if they weren't living there? It's kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. All I know is what Alice Halliday and the others on our pages today are creating is unique and very beautiful.
Photography by Kate Bean
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine