>> It’s that time of year when choir boys singing hymns in exalted church surroundings, advent calendars, nativity scenes and all manner of Christian traditions are taken up en masse, even if we’re now a largely secular society. It just so happens that Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, who has long been pre-occupied with religious iconography in her work, has produced a collection that fits into this pre-Crimbo narrative. That’s not to say, Raghallaigh’s collection is just for Christmas. It isn’t. But I’m certainly more inclined to go misty-eyed at the abundance of gold, silver, red and midnight blue and the indulgence in huge swathes of fabric and weight of embellishment that this S/S 14 collection entitled “Forget me Not” posesses. Raghallaigh was in fact inspired by the Victorian English sculptor Alfred Gilbert, most famous for creating “Eros” on the Piccadilly/Regent Street/Shaftesbury Avenue intersection (I only found out that the sculpture actually depicts Anteros, brother of Eros). She looked at Gilbert’s memorial sculptures and tried to evoke the same melancholic romantic aesthetic of his elaborately crafted odes to the majestic death. For a young designer who is really just at the beginning of forging her own label, Raghallaigh doesn’t shy away from unabashed grandeur. As opposed to taking the easy route and “commercialising” her work, Raghallaigh ploughs ahead with weighty decoration, consisting of 100,000 safety pins, threaded with glass bugle beads. They’re given a wearable platform in form of collars and cuffs but also grace crowns, capes and a jacket entirely stitched out of safety pins. The result is a piece that looks tiled with silver without you ever sensing that the raw beginnings of it was the humble safety pin. All that hefty hardware and intricate beading is contrasted with a mass of delicate tulle, which Raghallaigh so loves. It’s a collection that isn’t afraid to delve into pageantry territory. Save for the bags – a collaboration with Betangible – Raghallaigh is really going for it in a way that is extra appealing at this time of the year. I’m not church goer but there’s certainly something greatly appealing about wafting about in a cold cathedral wearing Raghallaigh’s frocks.
December 19, 2013