Focus: craftwork by Danielle Romeril
Danielle Romeril and I are talking about Simone Rocha; the two Irish designers share a passion for craft and experimental fabric techniques. I ask, at the risk of generalising, if there is something in their background that encourages this.
‘There’s definitely a craft element that is part of our heritage, much more than the design element,’ admits Royal College of Art-trained Romeril. ‘Arran jumpers, basket weaving, even our dry stone walls, there’s a lot of handmade-ness and attention to fabric.’
‘Attention to fabric’ is a hallmark of Romeril’s work, in which gauze, ruffles and lace can be found in imaginatively placed around the body, but it’s the silhouettes that make the first statements.
The clothes are shaped by an intelligent quirkiness. Not for your bog-standard glamourpuss are Romeril's high-waisted apron skirts, acres-wide culottes, oversized external pockets, fishtail hems cut from quilted fabrics, leather scales born from ancient Japanese armour techniques and tiered fringed dresses.
Deliciously off kilter, the fashion is for women with a lot going on, in their heads and their lives. Case in point: FKA Twigs wore an enormously sexy camo dress by Romeril on stage at Bestival earlier this year.
‘Clothes should be about making you feel fantastic while you go about your life,’ says Romeril. ‘I like that relaxed, useful feel. It’s utility without being masculine. It’s a world I’d like to inhabit.’
Romeril's three last collections have been inspired by the meeting place betwen human society and nature; the artful camo and lace of SS15 came from ideas of living in nature; AW15 - those leather scales - explored a post-apocalyptic world in which inhabitants scavenged for survival.
SS16, presented last month as part of NewGen, was inspired by a project by photographer Jackie Nickerson. ‘It was a series of portraits of African farm workers,’ says Romeril. ‘The workers had appropriated western clothing but tied and knotted it in a way more akin to West African clothing and dress.’
That might have been the starting point but, with its spiky palm prints and fresh colourways of pink and powder green, the collection also felt, well, faintly Californian. Louche tartan trousers, paneled tie-up cummerbunds, sheer monochrome check dresses, artfully draped tunics and skirts sewn over trousers all featured, while the name of the collection ‘Paradise Lost’ was appliquéd on occasional garments to echo streetwear references.
Romeril is still musing on Irish design. ‘We wouldn’t be known for our fashion except with Simone and J W Anderson doing the country so proud,’ she smiles. After just a few seasons, I think we can already add Romeril to that list.