Art and fashion have long had a love/hate relationship but today there was perfect harmony and sparks flew as designer Joanne Hynes and artist Helen Steele united in a celebration of creativity. These two innovators are inspired by a fusion of distinct Irish heritage and fine art painting, making for an eclectic combination with truly original results in a collection entitled “The Warriors”.

An energetic mix of textures included tweed, recycled wool, fur (lots of), jute, Indian silks with jacquard patterns and Aran and leather encrusted with chunky crystals, which was all finished off with either a birds nest or Mohawk atop the model’s heads. Models shuffled down the runway on high clogs and platforms like moving works of art on a plinth, or they strutted in flat python patchwork boots fit for an Irish pirate queen.

Colours were bright and inspiring as earthy tweeds and Aran collided with furs in emerald green, zesty orange and fuchsia and shiny black leather. Long dresses in red velvet or gold metallics hung elegantly from the shoulder to reveal a powerful female silhouette suitable for Boudica (battlefield chic?), and were finished with gold and diamond encrusted collars.

James Brown (a clear fan of the designer) was at the show and VFS caught up with him backstage to discover that this was in fact the only show at London Fashion Week that he was in attendance for, testament to the excitement generated by this designer. He told us that the show left him reeling from its “energy in the colours and textures” and that he was now “full of inspiration”. James said, “I loved the Irish sensibility. The textures were great and I love fur”… “My favourite piece was an Aran embellished skirt”.

Helen has metamorphosed her paintings into kaleidoscopic prints to form long sweeping coats and bold swing dresses. Leather skits with layers of war paint exploded onto them by cheery pickers and chainsaws through performance art represent the unleashing of the warrior within. These are individual works of art and each garment comes with a DVD of its own creation. Fashion is further developed into a performance process with an installation film featuring a rain soaked dancer in an Irish field accompanied by haunting violin music and flashes of texture and Helen’s vibrant paintings.

Joanne and Helen are redefining established ways of working in the art and fashion worlds. Their work is focused on the present, the gesture and spontaneity of creating, which they aim to capture in the designs, much like a Jackson Pollock action painting, thus producing living works of art and fashion. By experimenting and unifying these two art practices with such fearlessness and fun the pair challenge trends of minimalism and cautiousness, and resemble the warrior queens who inspire them. This is raw creativity and very exciting to witness.


Words : Amy Lockwood
Images : Lucas Seidenfaden

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