HomeFashionNI fashion designer helps to create wearable glass outfit in bid to...

NI fashion designer helps to create wearable glass outfit in bid to tackle gender inequality

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As part of an initiative led by The Council of Irish Fashion Designers and The Glass Society of Ireland, Aoife Harvey from AH Designs and Dublin-based artist Madeleine Hellier have partnered up for the Glass Runway project.

The Council of Irish Fashion Designers and The Glass Society of Ireland wish to “encourage a dialogue on inequality, diversity and inclusion by exploring themes through this exhibition inspiring new ideas and statement pieces in this exclusive collaboration”.

Aoife and Madeleine crafted the ‘Corsuit’ — a unique design featuring a corset layered over a suit which can be viewed at Craft NI next month.

Explaining the meaning behind the design, 25-year-old Aoife said the project’s aim is to “provoke a dialogue about issues of gender inequality”.

“The female corset historically represents the constraints and rigid gender norms imposed upon women, while the suit is seen as a symbol of professionalism and authority, traditionally associated with men,” she said.

“The contrast between the two garments highlights the differences in social expectations and opportunities for individuals based on their gender.”

Fashion designer Aoife Harvey, founder of AH Designs, with glass artist Madeleine Hellier

She added: “This project was out of my comfort zone. It’s easy to work with other fashion designers because you know how their practice works, but it was a completely different ball game when working with an amazing glass designer.

“I am so proud of our design that marries our two specialties together, to create something so stunning and wearable.”

It has been a whirlwind few years for the Claudy creative, having won BBC NI’s A Stitch Through Time, and showcasing her work in Dublin and a Paris runway at the International Upcycling and Sustainable Fashion Festival.

She was also listed in this year’s Belfast Telegraph 30 under 30.

“It’s amazing to have my work showcased again closer to home for everyone to come and see.

“It will be my first time showcasing at Craft NI, which is so exciting too,” Aoife said.

The AH Design label prides itself on creating one-of-a-kind clothing from reclaimed materials, and Madeleine Hellier is an eco-conscious brand.

Madeleine said: “Following discussion with Aoife, a lot of thought went into sourcing the right glass for the project.

“Safety was the initial concern. The item had to be durable and wearable, and we also knew that we wanted an array of colours to bring our design to life. I opted for recycled glass for the Corsuit, it is made up of 98% recycled glass, paired with 2% oxides to add colour.

“Aoife was already working with salvaged copper leather and denim which was otherwise destined for landfill.

“We are happy that we have ticked the sustainability box without compromising the beauty of the materials we used.”

Although having worked with glass in all forms from her home studio in Marino, Dublin, for over 25 years, constructing wearable glass is a first for Madeleine.

A closer look of the finished ‘Corsuit’, showcasing the glass which is made up of 98% recycled material.

The artist has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout the Republic but has never had her work showcased in Northern Ireland — an opportunity she “could not be more excited about”.

“In 1998, I attended a night course working with stained glass and I have been hooked ever since,” she said.

“The Glass Runway exhibition and live show will be the first time my work has been featured in the north. How exciting is that?

“I had never designed for fashion before. It’s a completely different realm to designing, but Aoife was a dream partnership from day one.

“It feels like a whole other world.

“I just can’t wait to travel north on the Enterprise and relish every moment of my first fashion show.”

​The Corsuit is viewable at Craft NI in Belfast from June 6 until July 25

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