By Aisling Meath
Skibbereen designer Alice Halliday’s creativity is seeing West Cork develop a well-earned reputation as a centre of excellence for sustainable fashion.
WHEN it comes to ethical and sustainable couture, Skibbereen-based fashion designer Alice Halliday is at the cutting edge. Her designs are created using recycled and vintage materials and her ethos has always been to reuse and embellish.
Transforming scarves into skirts, curtains into ball gowns, she creates wedding dresses from antique lace tablecloths into which she might sew a pearl earring which once belonged to a grandmother. Each piece is unique and personal.
I always loved making clothes for my dolls and dressing up in my grandmother Isabel Burrell’s vintage clothes
Her cloaks and signature headresses have been worn by performers such as Florence Welsh and her work last week inspired a feature entitled ‘A different Version of Make Do and Mend’ in The New York Times, focusing on her forward thinking in sustainable fashion which has become the zeitgeist.
Growing up in a creative household in Castlehaven, with father Tom, a cartoonist, and mother Claire, a fine artist, Alice was always encouraged to be creative from an early age.
‘I knew when I was around nine-years-old that I wanted to be a fashion designer. I always loved making clothes for my dolls and dressing up in my grandmother Isabel Burrell’s vintage clothes.
‘My mother taught me to sew when I was eight, and my aunt Sukie Sindall, an appliqué artist, made me cut-out dolls which I loved designing outfits for.’
Alice does not work to patterns but creates a piece around materials she finds in charity shops, such as vintage fabrics and remnants. People also give her previously-loved garments to which she applies her magic touch.
As well as artistic nurturing from her family, it was the natural landscape of West Cork that further inspired Alice’s creativity. She often showcases the beautiful landscapes of the region as backdrops for her fashion shoots.
‘I’m really inspired by nature. I regularly hunt for sea glass pottery and feathers on the beach to incorporate into my accessories. I also love teaching crown making using recycled materials at my workshops. It’s so inspiring to see people enjoying wearing the headpiece that they made themselves,’ she said.
Alice is aware of ‘keeping it local’ and regularly collaborates with fellow West Cork creative talents such as photographer Kate Bean and other local designers for accessories for her fashion shoots.
Her recently launched ready-to-wear collection ‘Edge of Nineteen’ was made exclusively for Atelier 27, at the award-winning Om Diva boutique in Dublin’s Drury Street. She says the collection marries the ‘timeless with the contemporary all fused together with an 80s influence.’
Featuring pleats, capes, metallic finishes and textured details, all big trends for this season, the results are both powerful and graceful embodying a mixture of influences, from Stevie Nicks to Grace Jones.
The collection was shot by Dunmanway photographer Christian Haubold, of Bridge Mount photo studio. It was also Christian who photographed Alice’s first capsule collection for Om Diva six years ago.
‘I loved the work we created on that shoot, and the collection sold really well, so naturally I thought it would be really special to work together again on this new collection.
'I’m absolutely thrilled with the result. I usually choose location shoots so this was my first proper studio shoot. Christian is so professional and easy to work with, and I really enjoyed the experience of working in the studio. I chose model Izabel Balikoti, because I love her edgy, almost androgynous, look, which is what I was going for in this collection,’ said Alice.
Thanks to Alice’s creativity, West Cork is gradually becoming recognised as a centre of excellence for sustainable fashion.
• Alice also specialises in bridal wear headpieces and accessories. Contact: alicehalliday.com. She's holding a crown making workshop, on December 21st at West Cork Crafts in Skibbereen, 2.30-4.30pm.