Graduate season has come and gone. The next generation of fashion designers exhibited their work for the first time across the world. Colleges from Westminster to Winchester participated in the 27th instalment of the Graduate Fashion Week in London. Here in Ireland, there has been an increased buzz surrounding the designers of tomorrow. Recently, I interviewed Ciara Masterson who won the River Island Bursary at the National College of Art &Design. Today, I present Alla Sinkevich, a fashion design graduate with an astonishingly mature focus on craftsmanship and concept. I asked her about the nature of fashion competitions in college, her graduate collection, and the future of Irish fashion.
Her work will be displayed at CREATE 2018, department store Brown Thomas' annual retail event which spotlights 25 emerging Irish fashion businesses from ready-to-wear and accessories to millinery and textiles. It opens on Tuesday 3 July in their flagship store on Dublin's Grafton Street. This opportunity comes after Alla won a €4,000 bursary as part of Brown Thomas' collaboration with NCAD.
“Alla's fit is perfect, the finish is also impeccable. I adore her bias cut dresses, the fusion technique she uses keeps the collection very clean and minimal,” said Shelly Corkery when contacted for a comment. “I love the idea behind her layering—the dome-like exterior is like a hard protective layer and then inside there is the magnificent, lightweight feminine linen coat in raw materials, all sustainable, with gap stitching and slits—I thought it was absolutely extraordinary.”
I hope you enjoy 5 Questions with... Alla Sinkevich
Congratulations on winning the Designer to Watch Bursary Prize from Brown Thomas. How do you intend on using the prize?
Thank you Paul. Winning the Brown Thomas Bursary is an honour for me and also very unexpected. I was working hard continually through the year without this specific goal in mind. I am really grateful to all the NCAD staff for their enthusiasm and support and to Shelly Corkery for choosing my collection to be a winner. I plan to invest the prize into my brand Álla and materials to continue developing my seasonless collections.
Do you think competitions at fashion college are good preparation for the future?
Local and international competitions for young designers are preparing fashion students for the reality of the fashion industry which is competitive and demanding. This is the opportunity to learn, meet challenges and deadlines, exercise discipline and realise the true passion. The competitions provide a platform to showcase the work to a wide audience, put yourself and a unique creativity out there.
Your graduate collection, which was presented at the NCAD Degree Show in June, is called Existential Nomad. Can you tell me about your thought process during the creation?
The collection is based on the nesting dolls principle: all of the garments can be layered over each other and the outermost can encase the inner layers. Each layer is based on a traditional garment, passed on through the generations and remaining virtually unchanged such as tunic, caftan and cloak.
Archetypes of human dwellings from diverse cultures, phenomenon of existential migration, archival articles of nomadic clothing, works of Belarusian-French immigrant artist Marc Chagall and Inis Mór seascapes are the inspirations behind this timeless collection.
Inner layer of each outfit is loosely wrapped around the body, this undergarments employ zero and minimum waste patterns and can fit variety of figures due to the bias stretch. The core layer of every outfit is based on the enduring historical garment the Mongolian caftan which had been reinterpreted and reworked into reversible jackets. The outer layer is consisting of seamless hand felted sculptural coats made from undyed sustainably sourced Merino wool. This dome shapes recall various huts that are common across many human cultures and represent a home both physically and metaphorically.
The collection ‘Existential Nomad’ connects cultures through time, it is not about trends and ever-changing fashion but focuses on enduring shapes and details of functional garments and accessories. This collection brings together the ideas of utility, passing on culture and self-discovery, drawing on widespread human experience, existential desires and fulfilment.
You mention you used sustainable materials in your graduate collection. Is sustainability integral to the future of your business, do you think?
I believe sustainability should be integral part on any design really. Full life circle of the design object has to be considered: from the choice of materials to the longevity of the product and its potential reuse/repurpose/recycling. Designers have the knowledge and responsibility to deliver sustainable products to the consumers. Only natural fabrics and materials have been used for my collection: linen, wool and recycled leather. Rather than going out of fashion these garments will enhance its quality by living with the wearer thus addressing contemporary global issues of overconsumption and pollution.
The Irish fashion industry is going from strength to strength, do you think we could see the emergence of a fashion week here soon?
Irish fashion is going through very exciting times: young talents emerge and interest in fashion is growing continuously. There are several amazing projects and initiatives exist to support local young talents in Ireland. But the fashion system is being transformed by media and technology at the moment. We might not need events like fashion weeks in the near future.