Monday night, Solas Nua presented Paisean Faisean – a showcase of several new Irish fashion designers. Styled by DC-based blogging duo Birds of a Pleather (who also make up part of the wonderful Worn Magazine team), the show included pieces by Orla O’Connor, Katarzyna Wypych, Deirde Williams, By Yvonne, Ellis Boyle, Emma Manley, and Kathy Mooney – all upcoming Irish designers rarely seen in the U.S.
The always-lovely upstairs space at Fathom Creative was washed with harsh white light from all directions – including a series of raw florescent tubes on the floor used to demarcate the L-shaped runway. A video piece, “Dias A/W 2010,” by Soyna Lennon and Christian Ammann looped silently on a suspended screen and one wall was cloaked with gauzy white drapes, out from which the models would appear. Packed with camera crews and attendees, the room took on a hint of downtown loft.
The collections by Katarzyna Wypych and Orla O’Connor, in particular, seemed to really reference Ireland’s craft and fashion traditions with their use of wool knit materials, but transformed into much more experimental pieces. It was, however, Ellis Boyle’s dresses which seemed to really win over the crowd, achieving an elegant balance of wearability and modern design. The Caribbean-born, Spain-raised, and now Ireland-based designer showed a marvelous use of textiles cut to move with the models – who seemed to particularly enjoy flouncing the frothier skirts as they walked.
Solas Nua is a non-profit dedicated entirely to promoting contemporary Irish arts and bringing them to American audiences. This show, presented in conjunction with Ireland’s Year of Craft celebration, was one of a number of events the organization is hosting in Washington in the coming months. Today is the opening of their Irish Writers Festival and there are other arts and music events on the horizon.