The Irish denim designer who swapped celebrity clients in London for ‘serene’ Co Kerry – The Irish Times


“I never thought I was a house bird, but I kept missing things in my family’s life, missing a lot of things at home,” says designer Colin Horgan, who after nearly five-year-old in London has returned home to his native Kerry, and to a new phase in his creative career.

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2017 with an MA in Fashion, after graduating from NCAD three years earlier, Horgan has become known for his dramatic pieces after Lady Gaga was photographed wearing her black trousers filmy from his collection of RCA graduates at the Toronto Film Festival. At the time, he was one of the Irish Times’ Ones to Watch in fashion, with a style suited to the stage. “Back then it was all about making noise, pushing boundaries, and you had to fight to be noticed and recognized,” he recalls. “It was a very different era in fashion.”

Over time, although she was associated with extravagant stage outfits and tailoring outfits for celebrities and stars, the momentum began to fade. “I realized that I had become categorized and needed to take a break [and take stock], because I felt suffocated. Mentored by often conflicting design and sales advice, when Covid hits, he returns to Ireland, takes up a vacation home by a beach for a year, and begins to question his whole approach to fashion.

That time has now paid off. “I needed to know what I was trying to say with my clothes. I was trying to escape the scenic formula and not think about letting the fabric tell the story, and not think about the woman wearing my clothes. I realized that I don’t need to keep adding more, I don’t need everything. I’m still learning,” he says, now happy to have a “serene” workspace in Tralee painted black and softened with plants everywhere.

He tapped into his archives for his new collection, called Affinity Eleven, which takes a fresh approach to denim alongside more body-friendly dressing. Some elements recall his impressive work as an NCAD graduate. Inventive cuts and stitching, for example, brought a new look to classic bombers and trousers. “The energy is more concentrated and I hope the pieces are more accessible. I try to mix soft and hard and whereas before my pieces were hard and loud and loud, maybe now I’m getting a bit more romantic.

Twenty-five pieces – pants (he anticipated the flare trend five years ago), coats, wraps and high-necked tops, corsets, jackets and skirts – producing 11 looks make up the collection, crafted from waxed denim, wool, nylon, satin, taffeta and softshell elements. The pieces are now stocked in three shops: Macbees in Killarney (he is delighted to have one in his native Kerry), Havana in Donnybrook and Emporium Kalu in Naas.

According to Aileen Carville, metaverse expert and founder of virtual showroom SKMMP, who currently advises him, “His approach to design is very individual, he has his own vision and is slightly ahead of sub-cultural influences. But he listens. I showed his collection to buyers and he took the feedback into account. He has enormous potential and his work is certainly becoming more commercial.

Photographs: Ryan Rivers; production and models: Not Anothr Intl; models Ami Jackson, Cayla Hennebry, Caoilainn O Reilly, Camilla Anele


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