MONAGHAN DESIGNERS SHOWCASE THEIR WORK FOR BUYERS
Three County Monaghan designers hope their displays at an important trade exhibition in Dublin will bring them new business at home and abroad. Liz Christy brought some of her latest work from her studios at Annyalla near Castleblayney to Showcase 2015 at the RDS. She was joined in the main exhibition hall by her friend Louise Loughman. Making up the Monaghan trio was an up and coming international fashion designer from Broomfield, Natalie Foreman.
Textile designer Liz was launching a new luxury collection of silk and marino wool stoles and scarves for ladies and gents, hand-woven by her at Swallow studios. The designs are inspired by Monaghan heritage, including Carrickmacross and Clones lace, and the paintings of Irish artist Roderic O’Connor. She says her love of colour echoes what she sees around her each day in the drumlin countryside: fresh hues of springtime crocuses and bluebells, vibrant highlights in the summer landscape, rich shades of autumn and shimmering, water-filled winter scenes.
Liz is a former pupil of Ardscoil Lurgan in Castleblayney, where one of her teachers was Louise Loughman’s mother Patricia. She went to Galway to study textile design in the mid-1980s and Louise ended up sitting beside her in the same class. Both took the opportunity of doing a course to help start their own business. In 1987 Liz approached the owner of Cleo’s in Dublin’s Kildare Street, Kitty Joyce (who died last year). Her outlet was known as the home of Irish linen and tweed and soft couture knitwear. She became Liz’s first customer and subsequently acted as her mentor.
Liz moved to Annyalla and has worked there since 1996, opening up her studios with one loom in 2004. Now she has four hand looms installed. In 2008 she introduced a range of sheep-design fridge magnets which have been quite popular. In the past her creations have been sold in outlets such as Kilkenny Design, House of Ireland and GlenAran.
The RDS exhibition attracts buyers from all over Ireland from craft shops and other outlets. It also provides an opportunity to meet buyers from abroad. As she was speaking to the Northern Standard Liz had a visit from a Japanese buyer, one of the main markets for such garments. Since the first day she went into business her creations have been exported, with the USA being the main market.
Louise Loughman from Castleblayney was attending the Showcase for the third time with her own stall. In the past she teamed up with Liz, having been based at Swallow studios where she did weaving. Now she is running her own business. Her wallhangings are a combination of batik art and silk painting. The designs she uses are based on the Children of Lir and the Brendan voyage.
The third Monaghan representative was Natalie Foreman. For all of them this was an important opportunity for bringing in business and developing their plans for the future.
NATALIE B. COLEMAN
For the second week in a row, a talented young person educated in Carrickmacross was in the large hall at the Royal Dublin Society showing their creations to the wider world. Fashion designer Natalie B. Coleman (the ‘B’ stands for her late mother’s name, Bridie) was at the Showcase exhibition. The event was intended to celebrate and promote Irish designers and more than 460 took part.
Talking to the Northern Standard, Natalie said she makes clothes that are delicate, romantic, cool and feature lots of print. They are also driven by a narrative. She pointed out to me some of her creations that are hand illustrated and printed on silk organza, with designs based around Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood.
Her work has already been shown abroad, with most of her business done in Paris during fashion week. Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam have also witnessed her designs. Natalie has been to New York and in June will be in Los Angeles. She goes back to Paris in March and will be in Shanghai in China the following month. So this former pupil at St Louis Secondary school in Carrickmacross has enjoyed international acclaim.
After doing her Leaving Certificate Natalie went to the Limerick School of Art and Design. She did her MA at Central St Martin’s University of the Arts in London. She set up her business in a studio in a garage at her family home in Corleygorm, Broomfield and in 2011 established her own womenswear label. She designs wedding dresses by commission. Her father Francie Coleman is well-known in the Donaghmoyne area for training the Ladies GAA Football team.
In 2012 Natalie was awarded the Golden Egg Innovation Award for Designer of The Year. She was recognized as the National Designer of the Year 2012 by Image Magazine at KFW and also received the Future Maker Award from the Crafts Council of Ireland. Her label has been featured extensively in magazines and periodicals both nationally and internationally. Natalie has dressed Irish stars such as Kathyrn Thomas, Sharon Corr, Charlene McKenna and Laura Whitmore as well as many others.