May Issue | Spotlight On
Spotlight On: Róisín Pierce
The young Dublin-based designer and LVMH Prize finalist talks about the excessive beauty of her pieces, the joyful challenge of zero-waste design, and how she’s modernising traditional craftEmma Sells
Róisín Pierce creates clothes that you’ll want to get up close and personal with. They’re a wonder of intricate texture and craft, all meticulous smocking, pin tucks, crochet and embroidery set across swathes of beautifully crafted lace, organza and satin. But it’s not just the details that sets them apart. Her all-white silhouettes, impossibly romantic shapes with a quietly modern spin, are lovingly, almost historically draped and ultra-feminine with unexpected slits and sheer panels. Which is why, with just three collections under her belt, Pierce and her Dublin-based, eponymous label have already been awarded the prestigious Prix du Public prize at the Hyeres Fashion and Photography Festival, and been named one of the finalists in the year’s LVMH Prize.
Pierce studied textiles at Dublin’s National College of Art and Design and is still at her happiest hand-stitching and sampling, experimenting with new techniques that she overlays again and again to make her clothes truly precious. “They’re almost excessive,” she laughs. “Like, before they’re even worked into, the fabrics are really beautiful. And then it’s almost a test for me to make them as beautiful as possible. I want when people see the pieces for them to be really excited, to want to keep looking and trying to work out what’s going on.”
IMAGES COURTESY OF Róisín Pierce
My pieces are almost excessive. Like, before they’re even worked into, the fabrics are really beautiful. And then it’s almost a test for me to make them as beautiful as possible. I want when people see the pieces for them to be really excited, to want to keep looking and trying to work out what’s going on.
Her collections are deeply rooted in Irish history, both the stories and struggles of its women – her debut collection drew on the Magdalene Laundries, Roman Catholic institutions where unmarried mothers were sent to have and give up their babies – and its traditional, artisanal techniques that have been handed down through generations. Techniques like Mountmellick, for example, the white floral embroidery on white fabric that first inspired her to stick firmly to a clean colour palette; despite being tempted by the lure of prints and colours, she’s sticking to her white-out for now. “I feel like it really highlights what I do; it really puts the focus on the craft and it also pushes me to work harder,” says Pierce. “When you’ve always got another white piece, you don’t get away with much, so it forces me to always be changing things up.”
The fact that 90% of the label is zero waste is as much thanks to Pierce’s process and her love of the design challenge that comes from putting boundaries in place as it is a considered sustainable stance – she cleverly manipulates and folds her squares of fabric rather than cutting it into patterns. She weaves deadstock fabric into her collections where possible and every piece is made locally, too. “I guess there’s guilt in being a designer, you know you’re almost contributing to this mess,” she says. “But I’m just interested in doing things right.” And as exquisitely as possible in the process.