Irish female poets Manchán Magan and Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s works – ‘’32 Words For Field’’ by Manchán Magan, and ‘’A Ghost in the Throat’’ by Doireann Ní Ghríofa – written in Gaeilge, provided a new way for the Woolmark Prize-winning designer Richard Malone to look into female and queer empowerment with his latest collection.
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Malone hails from a working class Wexford background, where making – be it of buildings or of textiles – was key to the local community, hit hard by the 2008 recession. The realization that not only did people lose their jobs when heritage industries were outsourced, but equally the languages and histories embedded in those traditions, was formative to his practice.
This history reminded him of how the fashion industry, in general, has also looked down on women, and systemically categorized craftspeople, most of whom are female or queer, as “low-skilled” and who are “never really elevated or spoken about properly”.
While many of his early collections leant into upcycled or repurposed fabrics to ensure their sustainability, his latest collection explicitly explored those issues through the very fabrics he used: Irish linens made in Wexford from yarn sourced in the Mourne mountains, or wools handwoven in County Down.
Also, he looked this season to historical garments conceived with a foundation of functionality: ruched jersey dresses with court dress-inspired details, geometric sweaters, deconstructed coats, abstract blazers with ceremonial collar details, and sculpted pieces that resemble armor from the Middle Ages.
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