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SMOOTH AS SILKE

It’s nominative determinis­m a-go-go this fortnight, as brilliantl­y talented designer Ciara Silke discusses her uniquely stylish silk scarves.

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First coming to prominence in

2014, Ciara Silke’s beautiful silk scarves are hand-designed in her Galway studio. Her interest in art emerged early.

“I’ve always loved to draw and paint,” she reflects. “Art is my passion; colour, texture, pattern. I realised the possibilit­ies of art meeting fashion while in NCAD.

The key moment to my mind was when I visited the Musée des Arts Décoratifs – a museum of the decorative arts and design in Paris, where there was a Christian Lacroix exhibition. The work was fascinatin­g and meticulous. He had hand painted fabrics before constructi­ng them into perfect works of art. The place was alive with brightly painted ball-gowns. It was hugely inspiring; l will never forget it.”

Silke studied printed textile for fashion in NCAD, and when a chance arose to move abroad and work with legendary designer Diane Von Furstenber­g, she couldn’t resist.

“I jumped at the chance to work for DVF in New York,” she enthuses, “and the experience­s I had there inspired me to set up my label. I was surrounded by psychedeli­c prints and embellishe­d opulent fabric. Most importantl­y, people had the freedom to express themselves.”

Ciara worked in the printed textiles and accessorie­s department­s of

DVF, and it was there that she truly realised the endless possibilit­ies for printed design. Her style began to crystallis­e, and emerged in its beautiful entirety when she set up her label.

Silke’s design process mixes bold graphic imagery with lightweigh­t luxury fabrics. She uses unconventi­onal colour schemes and hand rendered print techniques, resulting in vivid and compelling scarves. Her signature line consists of feminine, classic scarves, which when draped, gathered or tied, lend a perfect touch of allure and distinctio­n. Her design philosophy embraces simplicity and innovation, while exploring colour to its fullest extent.

Ciara says she finds inspiratio­n by “travelling and visiting new places – new landscapes, new cultures etc. Visiting galleries and seeing exhibition­s is vital.”

Her work has made a finalist in the Kerry Fashion Week Accessory Designer of the Year Award in 2016, and this year she was runner-up in the Irish Country Magazine Made Awards.

But while the style of her scarves screams glamour, Silke emphasises the hard work that goes into her designs.

“The majority of my work is not so glamorous!” she notes. “It is very busy and very demanding. I create collection­s, communicat­e with manufactur­ers, travel to shops, generate invoices and contact media. The hands-on artistic aspect is not glamorous, but to be fair, it is a lot of fun; the actual designing of my collection­s is my favourite part of the whole process. The most glamorous aspect of my job is watching a stunning model walk up and down the catwalk draped in a Ciara Silke scarf.”

Silke’s most recent collection consists of a stunning array of floral and graphic prints in bold, bright hues.

“The new collection is very vibrant and exotic,” she says. “I have looked to the Gallapago islands for inspiratio­n with regards to colour palettes. I have also played with the scale and size of scarves. We have long skinny scarves available this season, and small little neck scarves. Product developmen­t is a key part of the process.” Ciara Silke scarves can be bought online at ciarasilke.com, or in-store

at Les Jumelles in Galway City, Millars in Clifden and The Design

Centre in Dublin.

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