Sibeal Crehan Feature & Interview (SS16 Archives)

Originally published 6th November, 2015

For many designers that pioneer an ethos of maximalism, striking the right balance between wearability and pure sartorial exuberance can often be a challenging task. This is even more prevalent a challenge in the case of graduate designers: submerged into the sea of fashion retail - which is, indisputably, dominated by fast-fashion multinationals - they must mould their creativity into an aesthetic that is both well-finished and diverse, primed for consumers but also uncompromising in bringing innovative design concepts to life.

One newly-emerged fashion creative who has succeeded in attaining such a balance is Sibeal Crehan, a recent graduate of LSAD whose penchant for sequins and sorbet shades have seen her produce a spellbinding, six-piece collection for SS16 entitled "Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast" - a lucid reference to Alice in Wonderland. Crehan's remarkable attention-to-detail within her garments manifests in various forms; from the tiny, snow-white ceramic teapots dotted across a fuchsia-pink tulle skirt, to the iridescent jewels adorning an equally-opalescent, heart-shaped leather bodice. Unsurprising, then, that her most recent internship was with the enchanting Molly Goddard during last summer and London Fashion Week - where Goddard's frothy, tulle party frocks made a striking appearance at her SS16 Sandwich Factory presentation.  As her debut collection officially launched to enthusiastic reception in Om Diva's Atelier 27 showcase this week, I spoke with Crehan regarding her key inspiration points for SS16, her fondness for eye-catching embellishments and the merits of establishing a label within Ireland's burgeoning fashion industry:

What first sparked your desire to design and create garments?

I have always had a love for clothes and style. My dream to become a designer probably sparked from my mother as she has always been very into style and from a young age we went on shopping trips together which sparked my interest.  I have also always had an interest in art and drawing and sewing and have had a sewing machine since I was 12, teaching myself to make little handbags and purses out of old bits of fabric I could find – so it all sparked from there.

Your SS16 collection, “Believing Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast”, has a truly ethereal quality evidenced in its Alice in Wonderland-inspired title. How did you first find the inspiration point for this collection?

My collection inspiration was first sparked from a book I got off of my grandparents when I was a child. Every year my grandparents used to give us a storybook for a birthday and Alice in Wonderland became one of my favorite night time reads. When I was researching for my collection, I just found I kept getting drawn back to the Alice in Wonderland story and I wanted to create a collection that was fun and colourful so it was very fitting. There really is so much inspiration in the story, it could inspire quite a few collections really.

What are your favourite fabrics to work with, or does this change each season?

It kind of changes each season depending on what I am making – however I am drawn to a lot of sparkly, embellished and pastel-coloured fabrics. I love working with sequined fabrics and with different satins and silks, tulle and chiffon and sometimes furs but I do like layering and mixing unusual fabrics to see what I come up with. I am a total sucker for embellishment so I spend a lot of time wandering around trim shops and stalls. I have bags of embellishments at this stage!

Having interned with Philip Treacy and Peter Jensen in London, do you feel these placements have impacted your approach towards design? 

I do think internships are an important part of learning how to become a designer. Interning is a great eye opener to how the industry runs and works. It’s an amazing opportunity to have worked with both Philip Treacy and Peter Jensen, it’s very inspirational to my designwork. To be working in a studio with these designers watching how they design, and be given advice and shown part of their craft is extremely rewarding.

Are there any particular fashion designers that you draw inspiration from?

I have always been a fan of Meadham Kirchoff for their fun, magical style and have been inspired by them for that reason. I also love Louise Gray for her bold prints and funky eye, Sorcha O’Raghallaigh for her beautiful use of embellishment and attention to detail and Molly Goddard’s wonderful tulle creations.

Your pieces for next season contrast print and glitter to striking effect: are your own sartorial choices similar to these SS16 offerings?

My own choices are very similar, I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to all things sparkly and colourful so I think this has influenced my design work immensely.

What women do you envisage wearing your creations?

I envisage my customer to be a lady who is very individual and stylish, someone who isn’t afraid to wear something quirky and mix and match for a funky outfit. My customer is not shy of colour and a little bit of sparkle and is a fun individual. I would hope that having one of my pieces would bring joy to the owner when wearing it.

As an emerging Irish designer, what is your stance on the country’s evolving fashion industry?

I think there is quite a buzz for new fashion designers in Ireland and people are really willing to help as best they can to create a platform for Irish designers which is amazing. The fashion industry is really growing in Ireland.  I have worked in London and although it has a fantastic fashion industry, I think its difficult to find your place in the fashion industry in London as there is so many graduates each year.

What do you feel are the merits of establishing oneself as a designer in Ireland, as opposed to a sprawling fashion metropolis such as London?

I think that because in Ireland it is a smaller fashion community it is a more personable industry than in a huge city such as London. Because Ireland is a small country, there is fantastic support for new and upcoming designers which is a fantastic base that encourages them and gives them confidence to expand their brand to cities such as London which is one of the fashion capitals.

What can we expect to see next from your label? Personally, I’m hoping you might find the Grand Budapest Hotel a source of inspiration for a future collection – I could only imagine what an amazing, pastel-hued end result that would be..!

Personally I have never actually watched that movie but I will definitely look into it for inspiration for a future collection, thank you for the suggestion. For next season I want to go for something a little bit more romantic but ethereal at the same time. Clothing that is almost dreamlike using chiffons and silks etc.

I want a more relaxed colour palette of more pastel hued tones and a splash of colour in embellishments. I still love mixing different fabrics and prints so I hope to continue that and maybe design some of my own unique prints in the next season.

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One of the most wonderful aspects of a fashion designer’s work, in my opinion, is that – when the right collection comes along – they enable their audience to find escapism through their awe-striking pieces, to be transported out of a regular, uneventful day into a kaleidoscopic parallel world. Sibeal Crehan‘s bewitching collection embodies that aspect completely, but also manages to have a feel of accessibility: her garments are fantastical, but you could still envisage styling them in real life to add a generous helping of sparkle and colour to whatever occasion you desire.

You can currently purchase Sibeal Crehan‘s “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast” collection in Atelier 27 (located on Om Diva‘s top floor) on Drury Street, in the heart of Dublin’s Creative Quarter – you can also find her website, which features additional imagery, insight and contact details, “here”. There is no doubt that Crehan’s garment-crafting career has gotten off to an incredibly magical start; and I, for one, cannot wait to see what enchanting, sequin-covered spell she’ll weave next.

Amelia xx

La Femme Éclectique