Helen Steele is an awesome designer you need to know about. Her prints are fresh and exciting, with clean and modern silhouettes shaping garments that are nothing short of covetable. It makes sense that her prints come to the fore as she’s actually an acclaimed artist, who got involved with Joanne Hynes to produce a collection, Les Gurriers, and one thing led to another and in two short seasons she is now showing her own collections at London and Paris Fashion Weeks. Not bad for a bird who lives in the (lovely) middle of nowhere in Ireland. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s ultra cool and super nice and took some time to talk to me about ducks, cherry blossoms, wearable art and dreams…
How did you get involved with Better Fashion Week?
Helen Steele (HS): I got involved with Better fashion Week through the girls from Re-Dress, i admire their positivity and drive. Better Fashion Week was brilliant so informative .
Ethical fashion is such a broad concept, reaching into every aspect of the product life cycle. What does sustainability mean to you? How do you approach it?
HS: To produce sustainably I think its the only way forward. We use my husbands down (from his ducks) in our down jackets . We are currently working on an all season jacket that has detachable down togs to adjust yourself to the season and weather. And we create multi purpose inter seasonable wearable art clothing that can be worn all year around and is respectful of all cultures, which appeals to a more global market.
How do you think that approaching fashion design as an artist affects the process?
HS: I suppose working as an artist has helped me to be a bit more fearless in my regard to fashion. I do feel that there is a tiny lack of humour in the fashion world, but it seems to have mellowed since I was in fashion college . What I really like about the fashion industry is there seems to be a movement of helping each other along, of collaboration, only once have I encountered bitchiness and ego which is pointless and unhelpful. In my approach to design I try to keep it simple let the prints do the talking, I see the clothes as a canvas that must be comfortable to wear, that feels like a second skin, not restrictive .
What piece of the current collection are you most proud of?
HS: From our SS12 collection I LOVE the cherry print in the Sharjah dress and leggings . Last spring i put a lapse photography camera under our cherry blossom trees in our garden and we captured the whole growth and blossom of the cherry tree and got great footage which became our cherry print . It was a long process but worth it. The cherry print was really popular in Japan, and sold out in some stores in Seoul in South korea within one week!! I also spotted (under a Japanese street style piece) our cherry print leggings on a Dolly Kei girl in Tokyo on The Weekly Edit which was a suprise.
What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
HS: I would say to my 16 year old self be impeccable with your word. EAT properly. Drive slower and safer. Most importantly dont let go of your dreams work hard dont let anything or anyone stand in your way and BELIEVE in yourself. Embrace change its the one thing thats constant in life. Its what you put into it is what you get out of it. TRAVEL.
What’s the best part about working from Ireland?
HS: Best part about working in Ireland is I get to be close to my husband, kids and family. Its very beautiful where I live, there is a good community spirit, and in Ireland there is a great fashion community – it’s small but strong. I have recieved brilliant help and advice from so many people in the Irish fashion community, everyone from stylists, interns, fashion students, photographers, make-up artists, journalists, people in fashion pr and marketing, designers, stores, boutiques, bloggers.
And the biggest challenge?
HS: The biggest challenge is finding funding, general negativity, insular thinking, ignorent attitude to creativity.
All images courtesy of Helen Steele, and are from the Spring Summer ’12 lookbook.
So, if you want to be able to say I Told You So when she is in every style magazine around, check out Helen’s website
, or pop into Costume in Dublin to see the clothes for yourself.