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21.2.11

Interview: Amy Lynam - Irish Fashion Designer.

When did you start designing and did you ever study a course in college for it?
I first did short courses while I was still in secondary school - I did dress making and design for 2 weeks each, at the Grafton Academy, and a beading course there too. I then studied Fashion Design, at Griffith College Dublin, which is a 3 year course. I just graduated last year, and my year was the first to graduate from the course. I did an internship in the Summer of 2008, with designer Todd Lynn in London. That's where I became more interested in menswear, which I did in my final year collection - 2 mens outfits and 4 women's. Working there also gave me more of an interest in tailoring. as I got to see that it doesn't necessarily have to be classic - it can be edgy and innovative too. They were nice enough to also give me some fabrics for my graduate collection too, and I have gone back every season for Fashion Week since, even this week actually!
What gives you the inspiration for each piece you design, do you have any celebrities in mind?
My inspiration for my designs is very influenced by my mood at a given time, as I'm drawn to certain things depending on my mood. Music is a big influence - right now I'm listening to Warpaint a lot, and their haunting music and nostalgic sound is pretty inspiring. Then I usually look at art, or photography for visual references and colour stories. I like to take my own photographs and develop them in drawings. The concept behind the imagery inspires silhouettes. For example; in my graduate collection my ideas of repression, suffocation, and being overwhelmed; inspired constrictive fabrics, high collars, twisted drape, etc.
I don't look at celebrities too much for inspiration although I do like to look at them for new trends and just out of general interest - I collect magazines and I am addicted to blogs! In menswear, I think hip hop artists are inspiring as they really understand how image can set you apart - Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Andre Benjamin are quite original. Street style is great because you can spot small underground emerging trends - I like spotting these to try be ahead of what the high street will do. 
For women's wear, the Olsen twins fit my aesthetic I think. Erin Wasson, Clemence Poesy, Zoe Kravitz, Chloe Sevigny are just a few of the other celebrities I like to look at.
If you had to describe your label's 'look', what would it be?
As for my label's 'look', I modelled it on a high end exclusive brand. Being both men's and women's clothing, its quite androgynous but still sexy, I hope so anyway! There's a focus on high quality fabrics, and handcrafts like knit and leather work. I want each piece to be quite special but not outlandish, like a lot of student work would be. I find it hard to design unwearable clothes, maybe its because it seems quite pointless. I want people to enjoy what I design- whether it be a t-shirt or something more extravagant.. I called the brand 'Anthem' as I'm so influenced by music and I'd like to think that the clothes would appeal to the music and fashion set. I designed a diffusion line of men's streetwear in my final year called 'Accapella' and I designed with thinking that the clothes would be suitable for artists performing - comfortable yet stylish, and conceptual enough to make a statement. Brand image I think is very important, and it's something I enjoy - from marketing to logo design. Encapsulating an image for your brand is satisfying in a way, and I get a thrill from people remembering my brand name.
What designers do you look up to most and who do you think will be big for 2011?
I love the fabrics that Nicholas Ghesquire at Balenciaga uses. Alexander Wang I love for how he brought an off-duty look to the catwalk, rather than just formal wear. His focus on textures and styling is something that resonates with me too. Todd Lynn of course has been an influence in how he makes tailoring exciting, and I like his look more since he incorporated more drape. I like BBC and BAPE for their original streetwear for men - I think that sector is really exciting, with prints and colour for men. Peter Pilotto and Jonathan Saunders are really original with their prints. 
At the moment I really like Michael Van Der Ham for his draped dresses of contrasting colours and textures - I think they're original, yet elegant; a perfect balance really. 
Who do you get to photograph your garments and do you have certain models, make-up artists etc that you always go to?
Lucy Nuzum photographed my graduate collection. I saw her work on Model Mayhem, and more on her site and I loved her style. DJ O'Brein did the make-up and Jane Akkermann did the hair. Lisa Nolan, from BScene modelled for me as we went to primary school together, and Peter Kinane who was in my college course modelled the menswear. We shot it at Henrietta Street in Dublin; and the results were amazing. I'd definitely use that team again if I was to need another photoshoot done.
Jill O'Meara, a student at Griffith College shot some of my earlier work in the studio and it's great to have images of all your work. 
What is the price range for your clothes?
I haven't sold any of my garments yet, so prices are hard to gauge. They went on sale in Urban Outfitters in Temple Bar along with the rest of my classes designs. They ranged from €75 from a t-shirt, to €400 for a black women's coat. The high prices are due to the fact that they're each one-of-a-kind at the moment, and I used high quality fabrics - the t-shirt was a very fine 100% wool, with hand-done distressed effects; the coat was a wool, mink, cashmere mix and was very much a statement piece. They're still cheaper than their equivalents by more major designers, and sometimes I see discrepancies in the quality of certain designer's pieces.
What advice would you give to people, wanting to become a fashion designer and to join the fashion world?
When looking for a fashion course, I think courses that dedicate a semester to an internship or industry placement, is a great idea. The alternative of getting experience over the Summer or after you graduate is very important. Most English colleges offer this, and I know Limerick in Ireland does too. Internships are vital for making contacts, applying what you've learnt to a real workplace, and it's great to have on your CV. Many designers fail as they have no knowledge of the business and marketing side of fashion so I think its important to find a course with them as modules. Photoshop, illustrator, and computer skills are also essential. 
How can the public purchase your garments, have you got a website/blog?
As for where they're sold, I've gotten promotion from college shoots, the shoots I've done myself, and the graduate fashion show. I don't have a website or blog yet, but I'm very much considering creating one, especially as I've done some freelance styling collaborating with photographers, models and make-up artists for their portfolios. But if anyone is interested in my clothes, I would consider lowering my prices and they can contact me by email: amylynam@hotmails.com.
As for advice; I'm still learning myself.