Emma Collopy, recent BA (Hons) in Fashion Design graduate, gives us the lowdown on what inspires her designs, highlights of her time at Griffith - with some invaluable tips for new fashion students! – and her ambitions for developing her already successful career in the fashion industry.
Course: BA (Hons) in Fashion Design
Year of Graduation: 2014
Home Town / Country: Dublin
My Current Situation
Over the summer I was commissioned to collaborate on an exciting design project with a large Irish company – I can’t say who as it’s top secret at the moment (!) – but it’s amazing to be working on this.
During my time at Griffith I was awarded two internships with top Irish designers so I’m currently interning with Helen McAlinden where I’m assisting in the design of her Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Previously I interned with Jennifer Rothwell.
My graduate collection is currently stocked in Marion Cuddy's Irish Design Emporium in Powerscourt. I’ve also recently had my graduate work featured in shoots for Social & Personal magazine, U magazine, Stellar magazine and Image magazine.
I have been a finalist in student competitions such as the Fashion Innovation Awards 2014, UCD Young Designer of the Year 2014, and will be showing my designs at the Limerick International Student Fashion Awards competition this month.
I’m very excited that in the coming months I will also have the opportunity to work with Ireland’s leading garment technologist Siobhan O’Brien. I’m hoping to expand my knowledge in Lectra, Modaris software and pattern cutting.
Why I Chose Griffith
I chose to study at Griffith College because the Fashion Design degree offered a large range of modules that other colleges didn’t - including design software programme essentials Lectra, Modaris, Photoshop and Illustrator.
The course provides an overall guide to the fashion industry and also allows students to gain skills in specialist sectors of the industry from sewing to pattern drafting and marketing.
The facilities at Griffith College are also excellent and students have the opportunity to complete their work with the most up-to-date sewing machinery and computing systems.
The tutors in Griffith are excellent - they are all fashion industry professionals with years of practical experience and expertise, and go out of their way to help their students.
Highlights of My Time at Griffith
The highlight of the course for me was our Graduate Fashion Show - this year’s show got great press coverage and industry recognition - and it was featured in Image magazine. You can view TV3's Exposé's coverage of the show here. The Graduate Creative Show exhibition also gave all final year students the opportunity to showcase our designs that we’d been working on throughout the year.
Main Tips for New Fashion Students
Put your head down and work hard, put in the extra hours as it will stand you in good stead in the future. Be organised and stay on top of your work … it’s a tough, challenging course but the skills you gain by the time you graduate will open the door to many fashion career possibilities.
And finally, look for opportunities to gain as much fashion industry experience as possible whilst you are a student.
My Fashion Internships
I have gained so much invaluable experience during my internships. Working with Helen McAlinden is great. As Helen’s designs are stocked in Arnotts and House of Fraser I was able to work on the floor for a couple of days each month to really familiarise myself with her stock and customer profile which has given me a greater understanding of the brand.
I have also been designing for her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, creating mood boards and choosing fabrics. My existing skills in Adobe Illustrator have been invaluable when working on technical drawings and specs. I have learnt about working with offshore production companies, fabrics and assisted with her A/W 14 Fashion Show.
I recently conducted a meeting with a cool print design company and picked out some possible sample prints for the SS Collection … it was really exciting!
And now I’m itching to put my new skills in Lectra software into use, and learn all there is to know about production and manufacturing!
Jennifer Rothwell is another great designer to work for. It was in Jennifer’s design studio where I really learnt the real essentials - from sewing to pattern drafting and fabric cutting. This first internship gave me an insight into the Irish fashion industry –something I didn’t know much about at all at that time. This internship and the knowledge gained really helped my motivation and inspiration during my remaining years at college, and Jennifer has continued to coach me on recent projects and areas of the Irish Fashion industry.
I have also worked with Marion Cuddy's Irish Design Emporium. I worked on her social media strategy, promoted her store and the designers she stocked. Recently Marion held a fashion show for Dublin Fashion Festival, and she invited me to include my designs. So it’s always good to work for people in the industry, make connections and keep in touch, as you never know what opportunities may come up a couple of years down the line!
My Graduate Collection
My degree collection Fragile Forms takes inspiration from the restrictions of medical aids on the body and the beauty of free movement of the female form; the tonal colour is inspired by bandages and medical equipment. The collection uses a range of contrasting fabrics from cashmere wool to silk organza, high tech mesh and reversible spandex. Brass buckles and sliders are used throughout the collection to show a contrasting edge to the more delicate hand sewn embellishments in the collection.
My Plans For The Future
In the future I would like to work for an innovative design company where I can use my skills. I want to progress and find success, whilst also continuing my journey of discovery and learning so I can improve and and develop my skills as a fashion designer. I’m really excited to be working in the fashion industry and at some point I would love to launch my own label!
We wish Emma the very best and we'll no doubt be hearing more about her future successes in the Irish Fashion Industry! ... Watch this Space!
Part-time Evening Courses in Fashion & Design at Griffith College
Interview by Lydia Casey