THE LIMELIGHT: Ruairi Oliver
[MIKARA] What & When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?
[RUAIRI] My interest in fashion is mostly down to the influence of my older brother. When I was younger he always helped me with clothes and put me on the right path, gave me hand me downs of amazing clothes I would never be able to afford. This got me interested in clothes and how clothing can help you define yourself, while also being a means of aspiration and a vehicle for personal discovery. The idea of becoming a fashion designer didn’t come until much later. Growing up in a small town in Northern Ireland the idea of fashion being a job seemed extremely far-fetched and whimsical. Fashion was not a job for a man from a small town in Northern Ireland, and I think that is the hardest thing to shift mentally. I still wouldn’t call myself a fashion designer, I design clothing or ideas of what garments could be, but fashion designer? That seems much to continental for me.
[MIKARA] I find your outerwear very innovative and I can see me wearing a few pieces. Were you always interested in creating outerwear? Do you see yourself venturing to other markets?
[RUAIRI] It was never on my mind to create outerwear specifically, I happened to focus on outerwear for my graduate collection because I felt it more impactful on the runway, which in my mind is the key to a good catwalk show. As a young designer, it is all about getting noticed and gaining recognition. I aim to someday have the privilege to design for all markets, not only limited to fashion but homewear and lifestyle items. I'm sure like all designers I want to make my mark on the world. Having said that I would like to have the opportunity to design more formal items, at either a mass or bespoke market level. Formal wear and suiting has always been a defining and very delicate part of menswear which is not often tampered with. I would like to make my mark on this market.
[MIKARA] What is your favorite part about being a designer? Creating?
[RUAIRI] The best part about having the title of a designer is undoubtedly the licence to create freely, to have an idea and see it come to life. The challenge yourself, while pushing your own ideas of good taste, and good design. When I designed this collection I found it interesting how my work reviled itself to me, and my own options of fashion and design developed and grew with it.
[MIKARA] Since you finished up 1st Class Honours Graduate, how has fashion made you express your new dimensions in your upcoming collection? Life? Confidence? Brand?
[RUAIRI] It very difficult to say at the moment, as it very early on. It feels good to be able to look back at what I've accomplished, but I feel and hope that the best is yet to come. That being said life after graduation is not by any means enjoyable, for me it is uncertain and stressful. All your efforts are focused on getting a job, and working a job that is creatively unfulfilling to feed yourself and keep a roof over your head. It is the first taste of real adulthood, but I have a lot of ambition and energy which I hope will see me through this period.
[MIKARA] What is your definition for fashion?
[RUAIRI] I was once told this by Christopher Shannon, and find it to sum up fashion in its truest sense. “Fashion is part fantasy, part provocative”. This statement to me is remarkably simple, yet it cleans up all the confusion of the fashion market, while so much of what makes up the market is lifestyle brands. Or the same jacket in a different colour or fabric. We all need clothes to wear, but I think it is a stretch to call a lot of what is out there fashion. Fashion to me is an art form, with a message at its heart.
[MIKARA] As you continue to build your brand, how do you want your clients to feel when wearing your garments?
[RUAIRI] My garments are doing as I have intended if they make the wearer feel protected, powerful, and extraordinary. I try to design in a way that asks more of the world they are being viewed in. In my mind I've designed a world where these garments fit in, they are not trying to fit into this current world or environment. This is also the case for the Ruairi Oliver customer.
[MIKARA] Describe THE perfect Ruairi Oliver client in 3-5 words?
[RUAIRI] The perfect Ruairi Oliver client is provocative, eccentric, and otherworldly.
[MIKARA] What luxury designer/brand do you admire the most and why?
[RUAIRI] There a quite a few designers I admire and have looked to when gauging where I place myself in the industry. Designers such as Thom Brown and Craig Green are a huge part of the reason why I got into fashion, to begin with. Their work is distinctive, challenging, and uncompromising. The pinnacle of high fashion in menswear. While also having the versatility to be broken down into the individual functional pieces.
[MIKARA] If you could pick a celebrity/ influencer to be your brand ambassador for a season, who would it be and why?
[RUAIRI] The first person that comes to mind would be someone like Young Thug, his approach to dressing and gender fluidity is highly inspiring, particularly because it is so rare and provocative within hip-hop culture. Young Thug is teaching us that he can be whatever the hell he wants to be no matter what he’s wearing. As he says “In my world, you can be a gangsta with a dress or you can be a gangsta with baggy pants. I feel like there’s no such thing as gender.”. The importance of this statement should not be downplayed.
[MIKARA] In the next 3-5 years, where would you like to see the brand Ruairi Oliver designs?
[RUAIRI] I would like to see myself working within the fashion industry. Which is easier said than done at this moment. From this point making contacts, working for the people and companies that can elevate my design and give me tools and resources to make it on my own.