Season’s Greetings: Sean McGirr

No stranger to the blog, London-based menswear designer, Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan alumnus, and lover of all things kawaiiSean McGirr bids you season’s greetings…

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

Sean McGirr: I’ll be working on finishing my AW 2013/14 collection around Christmas but other that that, I’m going home to my family for one week! It’ll be the longest I’ve been home for a few years actually – so christmas movies and some trashy clubs are awaiting!

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

It’s been a really good year for my work so there are many highlights. I had fun working on a fashion film with Kevin Gaffney so we’re preparing to work on another now.

If you could give just one gift this year, what would it be?

Hmnm I’d give a subscription to Arena Homme Plus because I really like the new issues. Also, flights to Japan inculding round-trip on the Shinkansen bullet-train and bursaries for students – I’d be super generous!

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

Roxxxy the robot!
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See more from Sean on the blog here & here | Learn more about Sean McGirr

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Masters of Style: Seán Jackson’s ‘On the Street’ & ‘Capturing the City’.

Lest you think I’m an insatiable facial hair fanatic, what with posts like this, and the beard-fest that is this, cropping up of late, consider this a more photography-focused post, rather than another toast to whiskers.

 Following on from Jonathan Daniel Pryce’s immensely successful 100 Beards, 100 Days, Irish photographer Seán Jackson was commissioned by men’s grooming giant Gillette, to scour the streets of Dublin for similarly bearded and uniquely dressed men. The resultant series of 100 portraits formed ‘Capturing the City’ and ‘On the Street’, two exhibitions recently housed at the city’s Gallery of Photography. Somewhere between candid street-style shots and portraiture, Jackon’s impressive body of work presents an array of arresting personalities, while paying homage to the Dublin man’s modern love affair with his facial hair.
Above-centre is impeccably dressed and is unquestionably bringing the beard realness, but above-right and far below-centre’s jumper are spot-on style-wise – who’s hit the nail on the head for you?
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Movember & Sons.

Since Sandy’s really starting to lay it down outside, I’ve been thinking growing a mo – as an extra insulating layer – probably isn’t the worst idea. Let’s ignore the fact that my chances of ‘stache success are slim, considering the common razor was an arbitrary and alien object to me up until the age of about oh say 17 (when I first shaved, and it wasn’t even all that necessary…), and instead admire a few lads’ hairy faces back home in Dublin.
As part of the 5th annual #MOVEMBER campaign, rugby player Jamie Heaslip, magician Shane Gillen, editor of Irish online men’s lifestyle mag Joe.ie Mike Sheridan, and jockey Paul Carberry, banded together with photographer Lee Malone, stylist Marie Kelly, and several more mo-bros for an Irish Independent LIFE magazine shoot that promotes the campaign and celebrates notions of masculinity, both depression-era old-school and contemporary.
It also features footage of Ireland’s hands-down best barber-shop, the Waldorf (beloved of every self-respecting, vaguely style-conscious Irishman from teenage band members to investment bankers), which provided me with a service that’s so far proved inimitable.
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All funds raised as part of the Irish campaign go to the Irish Cancer Society’s initiative, Action Prostate Cancer | Learn more about Movember | Learn more about Waldorf Barbershop

Marooned in Merrion Square.

Oho! As per, my post-titling humour knows no bounds. I’d apologise for the too-easy pun and alliteration here but, then, I’d be renouncing something I’m actually quite proud of. We’re all partial – don’t lie…
Anyway, enough of neurotic natterings (oops…). Here’s the second installment from the speedy shoot myself and Karen did last week in Merrion Square. You’ll notice I was ever so slightly lazy and just swapped the collegiate cardigan for a maroon cable knit jumper which I snatched at New Look a few months ago. Going to justify this by pointing out that the rich shade of red pops better against neutrals…or something.
^ Snood from H&M, jumper from New Look, jeans from Bershka, boots by Grafters.
^ Can’t remember precisely what had me in fits here but going to take my chances on saying it was eccentric, tree-climbing British friend Emma who not only greeted passers-by from the branches, but also succeeded in inadvertently flashing me when making her way down. Win.
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And thanks to New Look for the free cider last Wed night at the Jervis Centre store’s student night. As well as 25% off stock, goody bags and the chance to win a €500 shopping spree, they also provided an abundance of alcohol which is never a bad thing when it comes to encouraging you to part with your cash.

On Fourth Level Fashion (What I Wore Yesterday)

I used to lament the fact that I didn’t apply to an art college before deciding on Trinity College. I mean, apart from having no semblance of an artistic impulse, or having ever studied art as a second-level subject, I was the perfect candidate! I had a vague interest in fashion, a fondness for independent and experimental film and a nerdy appreciation of all media-related, Photoshop-esque software.
Anyway, and needless to say, I didn’t go for it (can you image my potential portfolio? Scrapbook ahoy…). Yet despite opting never to cry over spilled milk, I continued – for a good portion of first year – to be secretly quite jelz of the NCAD and IADT students who threw themed balls as opposed to the stuffy formal affairs that abound in Trinity. That said, I’ve experienced a radical change of heart having studied here for nigh on three years now.
Whilst Trinners students may not rifle through the racks of Thomas St. charity shops to source the most outrageous (calm down NCAD readers, I know you’re not all brash) pieces for an outfit that begs to be photographed, they’ll stalk down the George’s/Aungier/Wexford/Camden St. thrift trail in search of blazers, quilted and waxed jackets, chinos and anything remotely collegiate in their search for British heritage-influenced, somewhat conservative outfit components. And it works. Granted, I am kind of referring to Arts Block denizens here, rather than frequenters of the Hamilton (sorry guys, I know you don’t all live in tracksuits!).
Ultimately – and I know these comparison are always a bit daft – I feel Trinity is akin to Dublin’s Paris (conservative but considered, with emphasis on tailoring, silhouette and subtle details), whilst NCAD is Ireland’s own London (unabashed and experimental, with colours either being blocked or clashed in ostentatious fashion and unconventional silhouette seen as supreme).
Thoughts? I know I’m spewing rash generalisations here but I thought it might be interesting for people to share their preconceptions/misconceptions regarding fashion and fourth-level institutions…
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SO, er, that wasn’t the intention behind this post at all, but rather I just wanted to share with you what I like to call my Trinners ensemble. I feel it’s equal parts Ivy League (I know Trinity’s more Eton than Harvard, but do please let’s go with it), and generic Dublin arts student. Or just, you know, lots of grey…
^ Snood from H&M, cardigan and tee from ASOS, belt from River Island, jeans from Bershka, boots by Grafters.

^ I know most of Trinity’s fairly affluent scholars wouldn’t appreciate mud splattered footwear but, you know, you can take the boy out of Wexford but you can’t take the Wexford out of the boy…
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Major thanks to dear friend and insanely talent yet incredibly modest Karen Alvey who snapped me in Merrion Square. Karen likes to store her camera equipment in an assortment of woolly hats and does not enjoy eating marshmallows. Her Flickr is here.

9 Crow St: Dublin’s Vintage Mecca.

Oh right, yeah, Milan Fashion Week kicked off last Saturday and I’ve been living under a sizeable rock ever since that’s had me missing all of Paris to boot. Apologies for those of you that land here in search of collection dissection mere moments after models scuttle off the runway, but this season I’m letting all impressions stew a bit before ranting bitterly, or raving deliriously.
Instead, it’s time to reflect i.e. pore over some vintage. Ever since 9 Crow St. opened up a few weeks back, I’ve been meaning to trawl through the rails as every single one of my mates has been waxing lyrical after his/her first visit. This week, myself and fashion pour femme enthusiast Ali decided to check it out.
SO glad we did. Being fashion aware as they are, owners Emma Fraser, Edel Brady and Dean McDaid aren’t your usual vintage pushers that rake in whatever tat they can get their hands on and then peddle it at prices based on unbelievable mark-ups. All being clothing enthusiasts themselves, they’re discerning when it comes to stock; right now, instead of an abundance of twee tea-party floral frocks, you’ll find sexy leather hot-pants, and for the guys – it’s more about waxed cotton jackets and tailored trousers, rather than mismatching shoes and those pinstripe blazers.
^ 2/3 Owners: the v. sweet Dean & Edel
^ Me, getting mah browse on, and no, this post wasn’t sponsored by Wrangler.
^ Ali fondling a Breton stripe dress (I know – how did I restrain myself from stripping and trying it on myself then and there?)
The store itself is impressive, too, with old-world, cracked-in-places tiling on the ground and a long, battered black leather couch which offers perusers a time-out if they need it. Catholic iconography features heavily as well which pays tribute, I suppose, to the owners’ heritage, but also lends to the kind of time-warp feel they’ve managed to craft so well.
But it’s not all about making the rent, the guys are also keen to aid up-and-comers in the various fields of fashion, art and music in making their first step into the commercial arena by offering them free exhibition space. Already they’ve installed the work of Dublin-based illustrator Leigh Arthur who’s all about the grotesque made kind of charming.

^ Leigh Arthur’s work
Admittedly, when I heard about this venture first I was hopeful yet incredibly cynical at the same time. It seems I’ve been proven wrong. Cheap (from what I’ve seen, stock starts from around €5 and outerwear is around €50 mark), cheerful and set apart from the rest of Dublin’s vintage haunts, 9 Crow St. are here, and are determined to stay.
9 Crow St, Dublin 2

For more check out Roisín Kiberd’s amazing review here, and incredible shots of stock in action from James McLoughlin, here.

Farewell 2010: This Year in Fashion.

NYE, and all I’ve heard so far is people passionately listing the reasons as to why 2010 was ultimately a good, or bad year for them. Honestly, am feeling as though I’m out on a limb since I can’t quite come down on one side or the other. With resolutions of boundless positivity and enthusiasm for 2011 (not built to last), I’m going to halt the wavering and say 2010 was another year to remember for all the right reasons. Here’s just a bit of what’s informed the decision…

LONDON FASHION WEEK

Soon after professional fash-bloggers began storming fashion weeks the world over, I chanced my arm in doing the same, and to my indescribable amazement, was actually accepted. Granted, it’s London, and not one of the major capitals but considering this fact did little to appease feverish boyish excitement. After an incredible experience at the SS10 shows, I returned in Feb of this year for the AW10 round-up.

Carolyn Massey, Orschel-Read, James Long, Omar Kashoura – it was a veritable feast and I relished every moment whilst intermittently, and very subtly, slapping myself to remind myself that these incredible designers were actually permitting me see their careers develop live on the catwalk. Bit mad.


CAROLYN MASSEY

Seeing a collection you love in its entirety is one thing (Carolyn Massey’s Autumn Winter ’10 Obsolete Prototype C53). Getting to intern with the designer who created said collection is another. When I arrived in London this Summer I’d intended to pursue an opportunity like this, but I never expected to secure it.

My sojourn at Massey’s Hackney studio was both fulfilling and relentlessly sweaty (not induced by over-work, but muggy London-in-Summer temperatures). From here I visited ASOS and Dazed HQ, was introduced to stylists from 7th Man and POP magazines and after having awed over the inner workings of a Northampton shoe factory, was given the finger by its workers on departure. Incredible. And although she’s not showing this coming season, there’s plenty more to come from La Massey.

1883 MAGAZINE

Time not spent at the studio during the Summer was time for writing. Having met Alicia and Paul of 1883 some time in June, I was set the task given the pleasure of interviewing six international up-and-comers from the likes of model Tali Lennox (there may at first have been a dictaphone cock-up but shhh…) to designers Fannie Schiavoni (both stunning and charming) and Angie Johnson of Norwegian Wood (she took the time out to Skype just days before getting wed!).

I’m so proud to be a part of the debut issue of this magazine monument to the next generation of fashion talent – here’s to lots more 1883 in 2011.


ASOS

At some point in 2010 I placed my first order at ASOS. I have never looked back. 2011 better not batter my wallet to the same extent.

Oh, and the lovely Steve of Style Salvage also thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to plaster my mug on the homepage for a bit (alongside other men’s style bloggers). Although this makes me shudder now (styling…not the photography), I console myself with the fact that I had just landed and was living from a suitcase of naff tat. Regardless, thanks Steve!


FRIENDS
Above all, and at the risk of sounding squirm-inducingly cringe-worthy, I’ve met so many amazing people this year including: Hanna ter Meulen, Dan Hasby Oliver, Aisling Farinella, Annmarie O’ Connor, Angela Scanlon, Ali, Stephen Moloney, SOS Fi and the LDN bloggers, Elliott James Sainsbury, Lil, London mates and Dublin folks – y’all know who you are.

Lastly, this blog has brought me places and offered me opportunities I’d never have imagined when I started it in the boglands of rural Ireland in 2007. Obviously, without you, the readers, it’d have been a dud from the get-go. So, thanks. Ever so.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

x

Images from BFC, Anne Bernecker, and ASOS

Morgan O’ Donovan’s The Facebook Project.

‘Alternative’ nightclub photography, once the reserve of East London’s art-infused after-hours urban landscape, has exploded on the Dublin scene during the course of the past couple of years. Influenced by the renowned shots of heady nights at Boombox (as captured by Richard Mortimer/DirtyDirtyDancing), Dublin’s dance-floor paps have brought to the table visual proof of our being the best race to party. But an Irishman abroad (fast becoming my favourite phrase…) acclaimed for his work for everyone from i-D to Vogue, photographer Morgan O’ Donovan, has decided to reveal the homogeneity beneath the mass of heavily made-up-with-MAC faces of the fashion and art types that populate these places.
^ The Facebook Project by Morgan O’ Donovan
 For The Facebook Project, Donovan took it upon himself to photograph over 500 portraits of people in “varying states of sobriety” reveling in East London clubs. The point of difference between this and what’s graced thousands of Facebook photo album covers and profile pictures, is the harsh exposure of a medical photography flash, which strips away facades to allow for more a accurate insight. Blemishes and imperfections are suddenly apparent beneath the layers of artfully applied slap, which leads to a portrayal of these supposed individuals, as more of an homogenous group. 
Or put simply, each club-goer is shot in such a way that you’ll recongise them come Monday morning. Oddly – and I do know it wasn’t O’ Donovan’s intention to make them look bad, but that flash could prove fatal to vanity – I think a lot of the subjects look gorge…

The Facebook Project is at Dalston Superstore, 117 Kingsland Road, E8.
For more on the Project, including a Q+A with the creator himself, check out Dazed Digital.

Cabin Fever.

At this stage, looking out the window at a housing estate that looks as if it were encased within a snowdome, I’m pretty much convinced we’re enduring the coming of next ice age. Still, with cabin fever having set in (I now conduct lengthy conversations with myself on the merits of wholegrain pasta…wtf!?), I’m prepping myself to make the 30 minute walk trudge down to the Luas in order to visit a city-centre friend for a day filled with premature Christmas baking, much mulled wine indulgence, and maybe even going out depending on how much Dutch Courage we gain…
^ Apologies for the lack of lighting – apocalyptic skies don’t really lend themselves to outdoor shoots. Wearing: black donkey jacket by Dexter Wong for Topman LENS, mulberry cable-knit crewneck from New Look, slim grey jeans with side panel from Bershka, black leather military boots by Grafters. (Oh, and I’ll probably be throwing on a black snood from Penneys, too, just in case you thought me raving for baring my neck…)

^ And here’s what I’m absent-mindedly staring out at…
PS. If I don’t update within the next few days, you wouldn’t mind sending a rescue team, would you?

Sean McGirr: An Irishman Abroad.

Have you heard? Ireland’s just gone down the plughole. Yes, we may have developed into a semi-fashion-savvy state with the aid of the Celtic Tiger (it’s disputable, but only barely – money helps), attracting international brands from the likes of Forever 21 (who recently opened their first European store here in Dublin) to New Look (who unveiled their largest store to date just a stone’s throw from the former), but we’re now firmly positioned within the pinch, what with our recent accepting of an approx. €70 billion bailout.

^ Sean McGirr worn by Next model Ben Warnock, shot by Rokas Roch
As a result, many of us – especially those involved in the more creative spheres of art, fashion, and design – are eyeing-up opportunities to emigrate. It’s a shame, but try telling Irish fashion grads that, “If the opportunities aren’t there, then make them!”, when they’re barely able to fund the electricity to power their bloody sewing machines, let alone secure a steady market for their wares. Ireland is a small nation, and although the recently launched TV advert for Dublin Airport’s second terminal reminds us of just how much we’ve achieved for such a tiny spot in the Atlantic, we’ve never enjoyed a stable fashion industry that nurtures young talent here.
Which brings to me to the point of this post – an ode to all the Irish ripping it up abroad, menswear designer Sean McGirr amongst them. Having made the move from Dublin to London on completion of a portfolio course, this fellow countryman is steadily making his mark on the international world of menswear. Still studying in London, he’s managed to secure projects with left-of-centre publications like Vogue Hommes Japan (assisting Fashion Editor Shun Watanabe), as well as a position at Burberry. I found out just a bit more about the Dublin-born designer…

MM: What drew you to fashion? And more, specifically, to menswear design?

SM: It started during my adolescence. I would experiment with dyes and materials on cheap clothing. I always enjoyed painting and this was the result of an interest in both clothing and art coming together. Design then came afterwards. I guess specialising in menswear never seemed like a choice. It just felt completely natural that i’d go in this direction.


^ More from the Rokas Rach shoot. Love how McGirr combines the rawness of a deconstructed approach with the more playful, boyish details like the big buttons and sleeveless arms.

MM: What motivated you to move to London? Was it the lack of education for your chosen craft, or something more?

SM: For me it just wasn´t right to study fashion outside of a fashion capital. I love Dublin and Ireland so much! But I was definitely ready to leave. I think the motivation on moving to London came from also from social reasons, not just educational. A teenage boy in Dublin is supposed to fit into a specific catagory factoring in your appearence, sexual preference, musical tastes etc. I wasn´t happy with this so instead, moving to London was also a way of creating my own social identity.

^ McGirr’s accessories feature in a beauty story equal parts high-octane glam and punk for Vogue Hommes Japan (September 2010).

MM: Do you feel your nationality/heritage influences your work?

SM: I think it influences everything else I am besides fashion. So, no, not in the way say Vivienne Westwood´s British sensibility has influenced her work.

^ McGirr’s collection Beauty Stricken inspired by a Ballet Russes production of the ballet ‘Narcissus’. This collection uses, amongst other fabrics, suede and mohair is rendered in colours reminiscent of those one might imagine occurring in the Greek protagonist’s environment  – moss greens, and soft flesh pink. It also addresses one of the most topical stories in menswear right now – the ever-increasing feminisation of the male form and how it’s adorned. McGirr, much like myself, reckons this isn’t an emasculation in a negative sense, but more a blurring a softening of once dominant gender stereotypes.

MM: How would you describe your aesthetic?

SM: Simple – experimental use of high quality fabrics, close attention to trimmings and everything together comes after that.

MM: What are your plans for the future?

SM: To launch an Autumn Winter 2011 collection early next year, travel back to Japan soon and keep on working an intense schedule.

For more check out Sean’s blog and website.