Design Perspective: Richard Malone

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From IAR Summer Edition

The exaggerated silhouettes of Richard Malone, created by shrinking and oversizing garments are references he draws from everyday people and the idiosyncrasies of style. He is continuously inspired by his hometown of Wexford and draws on his experience of coming of age in Ardcaven. Unkempt kids in school uniforms and ill-fitting parochial fashions are transformed through his original eye. Commenting on his process the designer notes, ‘These very mundane and ordinary garments become fantastical through the way we describe them, fascinating even. It’s like an extreme ordinariness that throws you, that sparks something and creates
an interest.’

Malone’s working-class upbringing is central to his distinctive vision and set him apart from his peers at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London. His collection was selected to open the press show for his graduating class in 2014 generating immediate attention from the industry’s top fashion editors. He has received major international awards from LVMH and Deutsche Bank, both firsts for an Irish designer. This is an incredible period for Irish fashion talent with the recent stellar collections from Simone Rocha and JW Anderson and now with Malone refocusing attention on Ireland. Recently selected by the BBC as one of the UK’s top five artists under the age of 25, Malone’s upward trajectory is set to continue.

For any emerging designer, visibility on an international stage is crucial, yet Malone sees opportunity to develop his brand from home and on his own terms, taking creative refuge in his father’s shed in Wexford and producing his collections from sustainable sources. He chooses to reuse end of roll fabrics and cheaper materials like pleather, manipulating them into high-end creations finished with skilled techniques. This contrast of low-end and luxury, achieved with such humour and vibrancy, is what is elevating the Wexford-born designer above the noise.

Malone’s practice often involves the written word, film, performance art and installations. Figurative drawing is at the heart of his research and this summer he will exhibit a collection of his watercolour studies and sketches in a small intimate gallery in Wexford. Many of his subjects are local people and he looks forward to sharing this private process behind his work.

Malone embraces diversity in life and invites his audience to challenge conventional fashion. In July 2015, a limited selection of exclusive pieces and one-offs was available from Brown Thomas as part of their Create project supporting Irish design.

Aisling Farinella is Editor and Fashion Director of Thread magazine.