Part two of my feature on the fabulous catwalk show coming up this month at Norwich’s OPEN features Siobhan O’Keeffe. She is one of the 23 students from the first graduating group of BA Fashion students at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) who are showcasing their final year collections. I interviewed Siobhan as she prepares to complete her studies and move on to the next stage in her fashion career.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background…
It sounds very generic I know, but I have always been creative ever since I was a little girl. At school I thrived throughout all my art subjects and my academic subjects always took a back seat. I knew exactly where I wanted to be so excelled in creative subjects. At A-level my only three subjects were Art, Textiles and Photography. My personality glows when I take part in anything creative and my teachers always enjoyed having me around; I have a lot of energy.
What made you decide on a career in fashion?
My Nan has inspired me from a young age and she is one of my best friends, she was a dress maker and we still have a sewing room together at home. We are always in there making something or other. It is her that inspired me to go into fashion, together with my flare for the subject.
Where do you get you inspiration from?
I get my inspiration on a daily basis from almost anything; I can be in the strangest places and see something that triggers an idea. Seeing a dissected goat at an exhibition is what led my whole final collection, as soon as I saw it a light bulb turned on in my head and I have stuck to that idea ever since, evolving it along the way.
If you could collaborate with any designer, who would you choose?
Wow there are so many. I am slightly obsessed with Iris Van Herpen at the moment and would love to do a placement in Amsterdam there. But Japanese designers are also hugely inspiring. Yamamoto and Kawakubo are incredible, their work never fails to mesmerise me.
What do you enjoy most about creating your own pieces?
It sounds insane but I love the pressure. I put myself under a lot to produce the best work. I am a perfectionist and wouldn’t let anything pass if it’s not the best, I put myself under a lot of pressure to get things perfect and the vision to be exactly how I imagined it but that’s how I work best, I thrive off the pressure. I am very passionate about the cut of a garment, my patterns are all very easy on the eye, effortless almost but the patterns are intricate and time consuming. I work better making my own patterns and don’t tend to work from blocks.
Which celebrity would you like to see wearing your clothes?
I’m not really into celebrities but I like a strong confident woman that wears the clothes and the clothes don’t wear them. So I suppose someone who inspires people and isn’t scared to wear bold garments.
How is preparation for the fashion show going? What are you most looking forward to?
I am very organised so I am doing really well. I am starting to get more and more excited the nearer we get, I am closing the show so I am most looking forward to my family seeing my work, and I want them to be proud of me!
What are your plans after you graduate?
After I graduate I hope to do a Masters in Fashion in London, I want to carry on growing as a designer… who knows where it will take me.
I hope Siobhan reaches her goal of gaining a Masters in Fashion, she definitely has the talent and I am sure she will go far. Good luck Siobhan!
Photos: Sophie Traynor
MUA & Hair: Ria Lingwood
Model: Laura Dauksyte