The exploration of her own Irish heritage, lead fashion designer Aoibhe Maguire to represent her interpretation of faith and Biblical interpretation through macabre visuals including custom silicone pieces that awake a true spirit of revulsion. The Kingston School of Art alumna aims to shock people, and seeks the reverence and immaculacy. Her gripping work is featured in the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK and we took the opportunity to speak with the recent grad about her astonishing graduate collection.
Tell us a bit about yourself, you completed your studies at the Kingston School of Art earlier this year, how was your experience being part of such a prestigious art school and what did you learn?
My Graduate Collection, ‘Sin Inherited’ represents my visual experience of faith and biblical interpretation and preoccupation with the body as a vehicle of teaching and my revulsion at that image. Living and being in London is a creative experience in itself, however, it was extremely beneficial to be surrounded by other young designers and creatives and I owe a lot to the incredible people I’ve met and been encouraged by. Moving to a new city naturally evokes a lot of seeking and examination and having space and distance from Ireland allowed me space to grow as a designer and to examine how my upbringing has impacted the work I want to make.
"Living and being in London is a creative experience in itself, however, it was extremely beneficial to be surrounded by other young designers and creatives and I owe a lot to the incredible people I’ve met and been encouraged by."
With your graduate collection, you reference your Irish roots, while exploring replacing the notions of conventional religion for that of an environment religion, why do you feel so strongly about this topic and how is this reflected in your work?
My Irish-ness isn’t a theme I had previously explored during my studies, so to focus on why my heritage is important to me as my final project has been a rewarding experience. In focusing on a foundation of doing what you know, and knowing who you are, I’ve felt more connection to the land that cultivated me. Historically, islands are insular place’s and breed an isolated, folklore-intrenched culture. Sustainable practices are an act of environmental and heritage consciousness and influence my use of material hugely. All of my wool is natural and unprocessed from donegal, Ireland and all flax seed linens are second hand tablecloths, bedsheets and curtains. On a molecular level, flax seed behaves similar to human skin and that has really solidified my passion to utilise Irish produce.
Your collection is very graphic, showcasing baby hands adding a shock-value, why did you decide to follow this approach and what is the significance of the equally disturbing and intriguing imagery?
My personal experience with religion has always been one of disturbance and macabre, especially within images. Unclean hands, teeth, breasts, flailing tongues are visual keystone for my collection. My custom silicone pieces mimic the tactile nature of skin-on-skin and breach birth. The entanglement between Catholic sanity, purity and pregnancy- the impossible ‘Pregnant Virgin’ as ‘The Vehicle’ for christ was a conflicting and confusing image for myself, as-well as the act of birth itself as violence. Within the Biblical texts, the inflicting of birthing pain bestowed upon Eve was as punishment for defiance, breach birth’s as a means of further punishment. Interpretation is reality, so I did not believe in the reverence of the female body from the prospective of God, but from myself and the women around me.
"My personal experience with religion has always been one of disturbance and macabre, especially within images."
What stands about your work are the strong silhouettes, where did you look to for inspiration when creating your patterns and final pieces?
My inspiration for creating silhouettes tend to come from a lot of research. For ‘Sin Inherited’ I’ve looked primarily at traditional clothing from the Aran Islands, Communion girls as ‘brides of christ’, Virgin Mary iconography and the catholic practice of Idolatry, medical illustration of birthing procedures, 1970’s Catholic themed films like the ‘To The Devil A Daughter’ and ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’, Dominican ‘Order of Preachers’ Nun’s, d’Athanasius Kircher’s novel “Arca Noe”, various offertory hymns and Irish folk music. Construction-wise I looked to Jill Sander’s, Margiela, Demeulemeester and Simone Rocha for proportions and Sinead O’Dywer for silicone work.
Since graduating, you have joined Fashion Crossover London, what other plans do you have for yourself and your brand in the future?
I am excited to start in the industry and plan on working with established designers and startup crafters to continue my education in different fields and specialism’s. I had planned on traveling throughout for this but unfortunately COVID-19 has changed how we will all operate professionally in the future. For now I’m continuing my work in London.
"I am excited to start in the industry and plan on working with established designers and startup crafters to continue my education in different fields and specialism’s."
Discover Aoibhe Maguire's full collection
Words by Reka Sara