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Student designer wins fashion award

Kilkishen fashion student Michael Stewart has been announced as the overall winner of The Limerick School of Art and Design, LIT, Graduate Fashion Show.

The 24-year-old was announced as the winner at the fashion event, which took place in The Milk Market in Limerick City last Thursday. A total of 19 final year students showcased their collections at the event, which was held in association with Bord Gáis Networks.

The Kilkishen man won the award for the best overall collection based on the use of fabric and concept development. The award includes a bursary of €2,500 to help kick-start his fashion career and a year’s mentoring programme with retail expert, Eddie Shanahan.

Speaking about the accolade Michael said, “It feels wonderful to have received the award. I was totally overwhelmed by the fantastic response people have had to my work, the most important thing for me is that I am happy with my work as I am not easily pleased so, when others react well to what I have created that is really the icing on the cake”.

He explained that his collection was inspired by ceremonies and shamanic rituals.

“I hand-crafted sculptural neckpieces that are integral parts of the garments they suspend cloth and give a sense of an out of body experience. Handcraft was very important to me so all of my garments had it in one form or another. I used hand painting as a visual representation of thrusting body movements experienced in trance like states. The overall look was one feminine power; some of my inspirations were catholic religious vestments, ‘70s cult leaders and the film The Wicker Man,” he said.

Living in Kilkishen has also had a huge influence on his works, as he said Ireland’s ancient heritage is ever present in his works.

“Living in the country totally inspires me. There are some very ancient archaeological sites in my area and this really plays with my imagination,” Michael outlined.

Asked about his passion for fashion, Michael said he loves the endless possibilities fashion presents.

“I’m open to opportunity and I am willing to try everything in fashion, it is a tough business and it’s not always fair but I love the excitement, I get bored easily so the fashion world is perfect in the sense that it is always growing and transforming, I’m ready for my next project now. Plans for the future include gaining experience with some big labels and furthering my education. I want to do things right so I’m not going to rush into opening my own label before I know that it will succeed,” he continued.

Michael carried out his work placement in Giles in London and with Irish designer, Natalie B Coleman.

Fergal McGrath of Bord Gáis Networks presented the overall award to Michael and said, “supporting further education and fostering enterprise and innovation is integral to the Bord Gáis Networks ethos. Partnering with LSAD affords us the opportunity to support budding Irish talent to display their skills and potentially secure internships to further develop their careers.”

“Bord Gáis Networks has a long and proud history in this city and we are proud to be part of the drive to promote Limerick City as an international centre for fashion education and excellence.”


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