Award winning LSAD graduate designer contemporises Irish traditions

Waterford native, Claire O'Sullivan, graduated from LSAD in Fashion this week, was awarded the IACI Muriel Gahan Scholarship RDS prize €1,000. Also at the recent RDS National Craft Competition she was awarded the RDS Graduate Prize 2011 €1,500 and 1st Prize in Knitting & Crochet.
Originally from Ballygunner she now lives in An Rinn, Co. Waterford. Moving to the Gealtacht has given Claire a huge insight into a dwindling culture of Irish speakers and traditional crafts people. Here she found inspiration to pursue Irish traditions and crafts women of the older generation who have passed on their knowledge and traditional skills to her and bring them forward keeping them alive.
The winning piece titled "Exodus" is inspired by emigration and the Exodus of Irish Craft. The yarn sponsored by 'Donegal Yarns' and KNOLL is 100% undyed pure new wool, which is naturally eco-friendly. This comes from KNOLLS 'Ecology' range; the yarn is spun in Donegal Yarns. Claire aims to work with natural fibres that are sustainable, kind to the wearer and have longevity beyond most of todays fashions. She creates slow fashion as opposed to fast disposable fashions; there is approximately 60 hours hand-work in the piece. The crochet, piece by piece is hand-worked on the stand where old Irish patterns and water waves overlap to sculpt the body and fall to a jagged hemline. With the open chains of crochet this lays bare the vulnerability of thousands who have no choice but to leave their motherland. The under-skirt is fully fashioned, knitted on a domestic machine with a double wrap-around giving multiple layers of uneven frills that move like the sea. This is drawn from the exodus of thousands crossing treacherous seas with hopes of prosperity. The young designer said "I wanted to create a piece that was symbolic of our rich heritage in the crafts. With a contemporary eye and vision I brought forward these old, some long forgotten techniques to the 21st century to make them relevant again."
Claire currently has 2 outfits from her degree collection 'Exodus' being exhibited in Wandesford Quay Galler, Cork in conjunction with Future Makers. Her winning piece at the RDS Awards is now on the travelling exhibition around Ireland. Other works from her collection were exhibited at The Ultimate Girls Day Out as the most exciting graduate collection from LSAD 2011 and her degree collection has also been shown at Lunasa Fashion Show in conjunction with Cork craft month, and more recently at Limerick Animal Welfare fashion show. Claire will be exhibiting 2 looks from her collection in Powerscourt Town House, Dublin late November. At this collaboration with London College of Fashion & Irelands hidden wardrobe and a shoot undertaken by Barry McCall she will be exhibiting alongside John Rocha and Paul Costello!
Claire spent a year in London working for Tim Ryan Knitwear. She says "this was vital to my knit education, an amazing experience. Also in London I interned for Alexander McQueen on his last full collection. "Along with designing garments I have a huge passion for creating textural fabrics. Whether I design using knit, weaving, crochet, macrame etc. through the making process I find inspiration to push my designs to unique depths."
In July Claire was awarded a Future Makers scholarship that sent her to Pitti Filati International Knitwear Trade Fare in Florence, Italy. This was awarded by the Crafts Council of Ireland. It was a fantastic opportunity for Claire to network with designers and yarn merchants while gaining invaluable inspiration and previewing predictions for Autumn/Winter 2013.
With her Muriel Gahan scholarship Claire will take a graduate visa that will take her to New York. "It has always been a dream of mine to work in the New York Fashion Industry. I would love to spend a couple years away experiencing and learning about international design, but my heart lies in the green fields of Ireland and my ultimate goal is to set up business and support local and creating jobs here in the future," Claire says.
 Wednesday, 2nd November 2011
Waterford  Today


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