In London, at the beginning of June, Graduate Fashion Week will be taking place. The annual event up calls upon various universities to present group shows of BA and MA fashion design students, hailing from different disciplines including menswear, womenswear, textile, knitwear. In Ireland, too, there will be similar events taking place. The primary design schools in Ireland are the Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD) at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in Dublin. Notable graduates of LSAD include Danielle Romeril and Joanne Hynes, and NCAD counts the virtuosic Simone Rocha as an alumna.
Ciara Masterson, 22, from Dublin, is a member of outgoing fashion design students at NCAD. She counts Swedish brand Acne Studios and London design duo Preen by Thornton Bregazzi chief amongst her inspirations.
She is the recipient of the River Island-sponsored fashion design bursary, an annual competition at the college. The bursary is €3,500. Design controller, Lucy Moller, a former graduate, selected Masterson as 2018’s winner. It will see Ciara’s designs sold in some of the retailer’s 350 stores worldwide. Also included in the prize is an opportunity for Masterson to spend the summer working in the River Island design studio in London.
Alla Sinkevich photographed Masterson’s studio space at NCAD’s Thomas Street outpost in Dublin.
I caught up with Ciara to discuss the bursary, fashion education and the life of a fashion student, and the future.
I hope you enjoy 5 Questions with… Ciara Masterson
Congratulations on winning the River Island bursary. What was your collection about and what does it mean to you to have won?
Thank you very much! I'm so delighted, it's an amazing opportunity to walk out of college and straight into an internship, I'm so grateful! The outfit was inspired by my grandfather’s farmland in West Cork. I have been told many stories of how my family made do with what they had while living on the land, which was not much. This inspired me to investigate how we can get more use out of our garments and also make them last longer. My work is very versatile, most of my garments can be worn in multiple ways.
What do you wish someone had told you before pursuing a fashion design degree?
I wish somebody had told me to save up some money before starting the degree. Fabric and supplies can be very expensive, especially for students!
Do you find it challenging not to pander to social media in your designs or is college a way for you to develop your skills and aesthetic as opposed to commercialising your work?
Social media, especially Instagram is a great platform for getting your work out to the right people, you never know who might see an image of your work and want to collaborate with you, in fact, we are encouraged by our tutors to share our work on social media. However, college is where your skills and aesthetic begin. Without realising, you start to develop an aesthetic through your sketchbook pages, etc and I think once you have established it you should then share it with the world.
The Irish fashion industry has changed remarkably over the years. Do you foresee a fashion week emerging here, would you show at it or if you do launch your business, would you prefer to show in London, alongside many other Irish exports?
I would love to see a fashion week emerging in Ireland and I think it is a possibility as there are so many up and coming Irish designers. If it was to happen I would love to show my work at it!
There is a constant battle between opening your own house and working for another. What is the general consensus among your classmates?
I think most of us would, of course, love to open our own but we are also very aware of how important gaining experience in the industry is. Starting your own business, I can only imagine, takes a lot of hard work, having an idea of how things work in the industry is crucial before going out on your own.
All images courtesy of Ciara Masterson