Meet 25-year-old fashion designer Cork who uses community and creativity to turn scrap into colorful clothing

When Ríon Hannora O’Donovan was growing up in Cork, her relationship with fashion wasn’t necessarily what she advertised to the world, in part because Irish people tend to be shy about the things we do. favorite, and partly because she doesn’t’ I don’t think she ascribed to what capital-F-Fashion signifies.

What I have in mind about a fashion designer is someone who wears Gucci, really classy and fancy, like things like Devil Wears Prada,” she said. And while this isn’t Manhattan, Prada’s connection isn’t all that unfamiliar. Then when we talked about personal style, she said “even if you think you don’t care about fashion, you really are” like what Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) said. with Andy (Anne Hathaway) in her hit movie. painful monologue in the movie.

One aspect of The Devil Wears Prada that definitely overlaps with Ríon’s life is that it’s star-studded. Over the past year, her designs have appeared on the cover of the magazine independence sundayLife magazine with Denise Chaila, in CMAT music videos and on stage with Orla Gartland at Electric Picnic. The second texted Ríon a few days before the festival, asking if she had anything to wear. Thankfully, she had the singer’s measurements from her previous fitting and had an idea of ​​something that would work, resulting in a memorable-sounding day at the office.

“She [Orla] said, ‘There’s nothing we can do first, you’re going to have to go to Electric Picnic, and we’re going to have to make it work,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, I guess. So I brought all my stuff and I have this cape in my tent… we had to cut an extra hole in it for the locking structure to make it smaller. And I was running around the artists district like ‘does anyone have a knife?’”

If you weren’t one of Gartland’s lucky few spectators on that wet Electric Picnic afternoon, you might be wondering what Ríon’s design looks like. Think modern, spray-painted patterns, Baroque fitted corsets, and long skirts. The best part? A lot of her designs are very versatile. “Being able to tailor your clothes to how you feel that day is really important to me,” she says.

For now, however, she’s focused on her new collection. “I’m really looking at the whole concept of uniqueness. I believe there is no such thing as original thought.” Concepts like its originality or lack of it have made for interesting projects for Ríon, such as the recent collaboration with Dublin Modular for the Dublin Pride festival, where the team hung an unbleached cotton canvas white at a yard party, providing paint cans so that “everyone there can paint on canvas”. That fabric is now the basis for Ríon’s current collection, released this week. “It’s like everyone in the community is involved,” she said.

Video of the day


Ríon hung a white canvas and allowed party guests to create the fabric designs that underlie her current collection.

Work to live

It’s not all music festivals and magazine glamor as Ríon is her own boss and takes on all the administration work herself. Putting value on the work she does is one of the things she says can be challenging. She said: “Billing people is tough and you really have to be super organized because if I don’t keep up with something, I’ll be the one not getting paid. As many in the creative space will be familiar, getting paid isn’t always available, with more and more people joining unpaid internships in the name of getting exposure and starting a career.

While Ríon herself has worked for free in the past, it’s not something she’s particularly interested in. “I would love to have an intern. I can never have an unpaid intern because I really think it’s unfair. And the fact that people just assume you have to put in all this free work to get where you are, makes no sense,” she said.

“You have to pay people for what they do, even if it’s just the intern’s salary or pay for the smaller things like travel and food… that’s a long way off.” While an hourly wage is a “dream”, it is not always possible, which is where gratitude speaks volumes. “Everything is expensive, especially in the fashion world,” she says, “and if you can’t afford to pay everyone, at least be kind and appreciate the work that people do.” do… honestly just say ‘thank you’.”

Thinking forward

Sustainability is also important to the young designer, whether it comes in the form of using natural resources to dye fabrics – “my fridge is always full of butter because the colors are so pretty” – or create adorable ‘scrap babies’. ‘ as part of her zero waste policy. The move to a more sustainable catwalk is something of an indication of the changing fashion landscape, which Ríon is passionate about. “Fashion has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go.” With many big street retailers loudly signaling their eco-friendly moves, it’s not clear how dedicated they are to the fact that ‘cleansing’ is a pervasive issue in the industry. “They all say they’re using recyclables, but I’m not sure how far they’ve come,” she said.


Ríon’s ‘Infant Babies’ are made from waste materials used in her designs. They are part of her zero waste policy in an effort to make her brand a more sustainable one.

Ríon Hannora’s designs may be sold at the Om Diva boutique in Dublin, made national headlines, and worn by talented Irish stars, but Ríon’s self-proclaimed impostor syndrome is one thing. regular customers. “I’m hard on myself,” she said, “but I think that’s fine, because it makes me try harder.” But while her success isn’t something she usually considers, she appreciates it.

“I don’t quite think I’ve succeeded yet, but I celebrate and acknowledge all the little successes, even if it’s just a good day in the studio or finishing a piece of clothing,” she says. And every little help. “Every time someone buys something, every time I see my name in a magazine or whatever, it’s really like it’s the first time. I can never have enough of that. I can never get used to it.”

And what about the friends and family around her? “Everyone is so supportive, and they definitely come to see all my shows and everything.” Occasionally, those less involved in the creative space worry about how she can stay active or marvel at her designs. “Sometimes people are like, ‘God, what is that?’” She laughs. Overall, her support network is so integral to her job that she wants to put them in there, whether it’s peeking at what’s coming or giving them a spot. on the runway for her new collection. “I’m trying to match all my friends with models. Obviously, the models from the agencies are all very nice, but I think it would be fun and interesting if all my friends would wear my clothes and then recommend it through there,” she said.


Ríon’s latest collection takes her signature colorful design at its core. Photo: Niamh Barry.


Ríon’s latest collection is now available at Om Diva, Dublin. Photo: Niamh Barry.


Fabrics painted during a community event in Dublin form the basis of Ríon’s current collection, released this week, “so it’s like everyone in the community is involved.” Photo: Niamh Barry.

Next best thing

On the young designer’s future, she focuses on that new collection and all the accessory work that will be needed. “I love seeing things come together,” she said. Then her goal is to have a space in the city to call her own. “Hopefully I will be able to have my own studio and people will come and play. You can’t really enter my studio right now because you’re going into my house,” she laughs.

When asked what advice she would give a younger version of herself, it was all about confidence. “Just know what you want. I know you might not know what you want but you should trust yourself a little bit,” she says. Fashion is often associated with out-of-the-box thinking, which is not something that society often celebrates. Perhaps in that spirit, she added that she wanted younger Ríon to know that, “It’s okay to be a little weird.” As she sketches, sews, and sprays her way to further success, it seems Ríon Hannora is exactly where she needs to be: “I really probably couldn’t imagine being able to. do anything else.”

Ríon’s latest collection is now available at Om Diva, Dublin Meet 25-year-old fashion designer Cork who uses community and creativity to turn scrap into colorful clothing

Fry Electronics Team

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