Nearing its tenth year of shining the spotlight on homegrown design talent, CREATE 2020 comes at a time when the fashion industry is facing big challenges.
For a young designer, opportunities don't get much better than showcasing and selling their work in the country’s premier department store, alongside some of the biggest brands in the luxury business such as Gucci, Dior and Balenciaga.
CREATE, the annual Brown Thomas fashion exhibition was established by Fashion Director, Shelly Corkery a decade ago in response to the lack of Irish designers stocked in the store and approaching her buying team. Enlisting the help of industry stalwart, Eddie Shanahan, Corkery was determined to seek out new Irish design talent in both fashion and interiors and provide them with a platform that could fast-track their careers.
More recently in the incubator programme's history, Corkery joined forces with NCAD and introduced the Brown Thomas NCAD 'Designer To Watch' bursary which is awarded to a final-year student. The prize for this year's winner will be a coveted internship with wunderkind and CREATE 2010 designer JW Anderson.
Typically, CREATE takes place in July – aligning with the tourism high season – but, like most events planned in 2020, the Coronavirus had a different agenda. Despite the odds and recognising that it's never been more important to amplify the voices of Irish makers, Shelly wasn't going to let the year pass without celebration. "Now more than ever, it’s vital we continue to support the future of Irish fashion and we’re delighted once again to offer a platform to showcase their incredible talents,” said Corkery.
On September 22, the anniversary showcase will begin, for six weeks, on level one of Brown Thomas Dublin.
This year, CREATE unveils a new line-up of Irish designers across ready-to-wear, jewellery, handbags, millinery, childrenswear and interiors.
Fans of cult-label RIXO will be glad to learn that co-founders Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey (who hails from Dungiven, Co. Derry) have designed an exclusive capsule collection for the exhibition-cum-pop-up-shop, featuring feminine dresses, tops and skirts in the floral and polka-dotted prints that have become their signature.
Other names bringing international kudos are Richard Quinn, Sorcha O’Raghallaigh and Katie Ann McGuigan.
Richard Quinn, whose parents are both Irish, has been a regular on the London Fashion Week billing since his Central St Martins graduate show and his extravagant evening dresses with chintzy patterns have been worn by Amal Clooney, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez to name but a few.
Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, originally from Birr, Co. Offaly, has a huge love of handmade craft and her otherwordly, romantic designs are often intricately embellished and densely jewelled. Blurring the parameters between art and fashion, her approach has garnered her an elite following; her designs have been worn by Florence Welch, Madonna, Kate Moss and Maisie Williams.
After her hugely successful debut last year, Katie Ann McGuigan returns to CREATE with a collection which draws inspiration from Tom Wood’s photography of early 1980’s Liverpool. The Newry-born, London-based designer takes inspiration from both the aesthetic and values of international subcultures; her references changing from season to season.
Knitwear continues to be a vested interest with Lucy Nagle and Faye Dinsmore showcasing cashmere maxi dresses to sit alongside signature sweaters, lounge sets and hoodies and beautifully crafted Arran knits in a rainbow of colours respectively.
In a time when we've leaned more heavily on athleisure than ever, Galway-based mother and daughter duo Leah Tiernan and Orla Moore present Leyo, a yoga wear brand that blends trend-led design with high-functioning performance.
Una Burke and her instantly recognisable designs will be joined in the accessories space by newcomers, My Name Is Ted whose luxury handmade leather bags for men and women retail at the higher end of the market, priced from €595 to €1,999.
Arran Street East leads the homeware and interiors line-up with a collection of hand-thrown stoneware for eating, drinking and for decorating homes, in clean lines and shapes glazed in vibrant colours. Potter Adam Frew works in porcelain and designs clean, simple forms that subtly shows the makers hands in order to imbue a sense of life in the work, while ceramic designer-maker Rebecca Killen's work aims to evoke memories, a sense of nostalgia or serve as decorative pieces in the home to be used and treasured for years to come.
CREATE 2020 launches at Brown Thomas Dublin on Tuesday 22 September for 4 weeks.