London based luxury womenswear designer Riona Treacy first appeared onto the scene in 2019, when she introduced herself to the mainstream by showing at London Fashion Week. Having worked at Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou, she quickly became a designer to watch and created a household name for herself when it comes to sustainable fashion. For her AW20 collection, Treacy was inspired by exoskeletons and the irregular patterns found in nature.
Whereas the designer’s SS20 collection drew inspiration from her childhood memories of her summers in Ireland, this season Treacy turns back to the concept of nature and looks at its protecting abilities. “This season we studied the concept of how we can use clothing as armour, a protective layer to prepare and shield ourselves with. Pulling inspiration from animals and insects with exoskeletons, beautiful textures and patterns found in nature, along with traditional clothing and armour worn by samurai warriors.”
As far as traditional techniques go, Treacy holds them close to her heart and made them a cornerstone of her brand. The Belfast designer is known for her use of the ancient Japanese hand-dying technique of Shibori, which plays a pivotal role in her newest collection as well. “We have been using this style of mark-making for years. At university I studied print, followed by a masters in textiles, where I really explored mark-making through manipulating the fibers of a fabric rather than printing directly onto the surface. This season we developed a Shibori pattern into a wool shrink felt, which resembles a knitted fabric and a beautiful silk satin devoré fabric.”
For materials, pure wool, recycled jerseys and printed silks are fused with neutral tones and rhythmic prints to mimic patterns seen in nature. Treacy used vegan leathers as a natural woven base layer, not only to make the clothes more comfortable but also more beneficial for the environment.
The designer is a pioneer when it comes to sustainable fashion, and emits a purpose, that in these times jumps to the forefront again as fashion’s greatest goal. All her clothes are handmade in London, and she continues her efforts to source her manufacturers in the UK, which is extremely rare within the industry. “For this collection we wanted to support local manufacturing as much as possible as well as using ethical materials. We used a beautiful soft jersey which is knitted and dyed in the UK using recycled yarns and we also sourced and printed our wool from UK suppliers.”
The brand’s signature clean lines, magnificent tailoring, asymmetrical silhouettes and feminine touch are eminent in the new collection, where new shapes such as the peg leg trousers and ribbon dress, as well as established shapes make their appearance. The use of asymmetry has been elevated as well, creating curious and flattering silhouettes. “We aim to empower our customers through our clothes but always keep comfort and versatility at the forefront of any design,” the designer summarises.