Sinéad O’Dwyer’s new fashion vision

15.07.2018 | Fashion | BY:

Sinead O’Dwyer’s RCA MA collection blended fashion and performance to offer a radical statement about diversity on a meaningful level in fashion. Using silicone (so often used to twist women’s bodies into a standard prescribed by patriarchal norms) and fibreglass, the young designer offered a bold new option for the industry: clothes that put the wearer’s body first rather than pushing the wearer to fit into punishing, shaming silhouettes.

Twin talks to Sinéad about breaking through the barriers in the new era.

Have you always been interested in the body as the starting point for clothes?
Not always, but I started studying fashion because I always seemed to want to relate my experiences and self expression back to my body and felt that fashion was an art in which the body and it’s exploration was central.

Sinead O’Dwyer RCA MA Show | credit: Dan Sims

Do you approach clothes with an idea of the shape that you want to create or is it always an organic process?
Observations of the body are my first port of call, and then it’s an organic process that is informed by these observations.
What about silicone and fibreglass were you drawn to when making work for your MA show?
Learning about mouldmaking and silicone has allowed me to translate the form and fragility of the body fluidly into my garments. I’m also drawn to the endless experiments you can make using such an industrial material as fiberglass for a mould.
How has your experience of growing up in Ireland informed your work?
I grew up in the countryside in a small town and had very little understanding for how the beauty and fashion industry operated, but still longed to be a part of it. However now after living in big cities I can see how these industries glorify themselves and the people they choose to represent and that knowledge combined with my experiences of how this can affect people’s perceptions of themselves is definitely something which fuels my work.

Sinead O’Dwyer RCA MA Show | credit: Dan Sims

What do you feel are the biggest challenges to changing how the body is perceived in fashion?
Old school fashion teaching and thinking: young designers want change but so many fashion schools still indirectly teach that a model has to be one shape and size by way of their choices of fit models and the block patterns they provide. In some cases, these arbitrary size restrictions are even enforced at show time. For example, the ITS competition rules state that garments must be size 8-10; upon enquiring if I could use a variety of sizes I was fed the usual excuse that models must be suitable for all to use.
This attitude, that it is not a priority to consider the bodies we are using to represent, and that everyone but ‘me’ wishes to use a size 8, is embedded in fashion culture. But it’s more often the case that a lot of designers have size 8 garments due to the resources pumped into paying for size 8 fit models, size 8 block patterns and also the stipulation in the ITS rules that garments MUST be size 8.
Where do you want to take your designs now?
I’ll continue pushing the process I’ve developed during these last two years.
Featured image credit: Sinead O’Dwyer RCA MA Show | credit: Dan Sims

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