Crimson Rose O'Shea and the Language of Textiles

The visual identity of Crimson Rose O'Shea's textile and print as her own luxurious language 

Esteemed fashion textile designer Crimson Rose O'Shea sat down with BLOOME's Fashion and Arts director for an exclusive interview where she shares with us her wealth of industry experience. Having worked previously for John Galliano, Diane von Furstenberg, and Eliza Palomino, it comes with no doubt that O'shea is a proven master of handling prints, dyes, and the sensibility of color.

O'Shea's textiles, bursting with color, textures, and imagery, to crazed and lurid details are truly as unique as handwriting. Her work has been featured in various publications including Another Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Hunger and Vogue.

O'Shea reveals the path she took in understanding the science, design, and authenticity behind a competitive industry where people work long hours with passion and commitment to achieve their dreams. She leaves BLOOME with advice to give to our young readers of aspiring creatives around the world, to get the most out of their potential to communicate powerful statements through their work. O'Shea rightfully preaches for aspiring artists to know the rules, because only then can you can break them!

DISCLAIMER The images used within this article are not exclusive to BLOOME and belong to Crimson Rose O'Shea.

BLOOME: How would you summarise the variety of multidisciplinary work you do in a few professional titles?

CRO'S: Womenswear, Fashion Design, Print Design, Textile Development, Research, Illustration, Teaching.

BLOOME: As a creator, what part of the process do you enjoy most? What do you consider to be the most precious thing in being able to create? Isn’t it the ability to get hold of and grasp a certain bizarreness of mind at the very moment of being inspired?

CRO'S: I enjoy the research and design development the most. I love collecting inspiration through my own photography, observations, museum and archive research, exhibitions, travel and culture, then building my concept for a collection. 

  Once I have my inspiration I also find the development stages very interesting - drawing, collecting fabrics, manipulating fabrics, working on the stand, finding creative solutions. Beginning to realize my ideas with fabric and seeing my drawings come to life on the body is one of my favourite parts of the process.

  I think the most precious thing in being able to create is being able to have a unique voice through your creations. There is a great sense of freedom in being able to express yourself through fashion, art and design. It is wonderful to have the ability to absorb inspiration and to try to create something beautiful, fresh and exciting from all of that information. 

BLOOME: Can you recall the making of your first print?

CRO'S: Yes I remember the first print I made was when I was at secondary school and I created a monoprint on paper.   Monoprint is a really nice technique where you can only produce one print and creating an edition is not possible, so you essentially create one off unique art works. I immediately loved the process as it was very hands on and the result looked very textural and interesting.

 The first time I printed on fabric was much later. During my Bachelors degree in womenswear at Central Saint Martin's,  I hand painted and drew on fabric but didn't use print. The first print on fabric I did was on silk using dyes, the design was complex and required 6 individual screens to achieve all of the colours in the design.  It was a methodical and scientific process, but I remember the excitement and feeling of accomplishment I felt when it was complete.  It was quite raw but I loved the imperfections.  I guess I kinda of jumped in at the deep end with a really complicated design!  I learnt a lot from doing that first print. 

BLOOME: You are a very good colorist! First prize for outstanding use of colour by the Society of Dyers and the Althea McNish Colour Prize for Royal College of Art MA graduate collection is just enough to be said. There obviously is that exceptional originality and levity to color combinations in your work. Tell us how you achieved that mastery in handling colors? What is this driven by?

CRO'S: Thank you, I think every person has their own unique sensibility when it comes to colour.  I'm lucky that colour has always been a strength in my work. When it comes to colour I feel as though I have a bold, spontaneity in my approach that helps me to come up with interesting palattes.  I am very experimental but I also have really strong colour knowledge and can think very scientifically about it. I know the rules, but that doesn't mean that I always stick to them!  

  Whilst at the RCA I refined my colour knowledge, I learnt how to create my own colours so after that there were no limitations in my prints, I could create absolutely any colour I wanted.  I am a keen observer of colours and am always taking photos, recording any interesting colours, or combinations I see day to day.  I find my inspiration for colour comes from a really wide variety of sources, I love travel so that is often a key source for me.  I find colour really exciting, a colour palatte can change everything, it is such a powerful tool and one which everyone responds to in their own individual way. 

BLOOME: Your CSM BA Womenswear collection is bursting with color, textures, imagery, mental flights of fancy and those crazed and lurid details. Could you give us a full insight into the whole narrative of the collection? It has to deal a lot with your personality and the way you perceive things, hasn’t it? How much of importance would you give to the aspect of being recognizable and distinguishable within all your work? Is it essential or probably inevitable to incorporate the means of your authentic manner in everything you produce?

CRO'S: I think authenticity is very important quality to possess as a designer, your authenticity is who you are and what you are about.  I think this naturally transpires into what you visualize and what you create.  Whether you work for another designer or under your own name, I think authenticity is regarded highly, it can be a great asset to you. When you are employed by someone you are often employed for your handwriting and if your handwriting is a good fit for that brand. Whilst I think you can refine and tailor your natural style, I don't think you can change who you are, I don't think that would bring you happiness. I think there needs to be a synergy between you and the people or brands you work with.  I do think it's really important to develop yourself as a person and to always question the relevance of your creations, I think even your natural style is something that can be worked upon and improved, I don't think you ever stop learning as a designer.

  For my CSM collection the fabrics I choose to work with were really important and formed the starting point of my collection development. I used thin iridescent film in generous quantities, that I knitted, pleated, and manipulated in various ways. I used  heavy duty holographic plastics, as well as beautiful silk organza's, and fine wool qualities.  I was interested in the contrast between the materials and the volumes and sculptural shapes that could be achieved when combining them. Draping was hugely important in my process and I created many toiles and ideas before finalizing my line up.  I used rich embroidery and embellishment throughout the collection, that was bold in scale. 

BLOOME: What do you like most about the fashion industry and what it has to offer?

CRO'S: Within the fashion industry there is so much creativity and talent, and that is one is the most most positive things about it. It is a competitive industry and people work long hours with passion and commitment to achieve their dreams.  It is a space where you can dream, be creative and express yourself. Within the fashion industry there is a huge poole of knowledge and expertise that can be trapped into. I don't dislike my job in anyway, I need to create and love being busy! I try and keep a healthy work- life balance.  I find the research and development stimulating and I enjoy working through creative challenges. 

BLOOME: Thank you, that's lovely. What memorable responses do you get on your work?

CRO'S: It's great to get recognition for your work and I was very proud to receive prizes for the use of colour in my work and to be selected for Texprint 2016.  This gave me lots of new exciting opportunities and the chance to make new connections in the industry. 

BLOOME: And finally, what piece of advice could you give to young and aspiring creative enthusiasts around the world, who are mainly our audience, to get the most out of their potential and make a statement through their work?

CRO'S: My advice would be to go for it, keep making work and developing your own individual style.  Stay open-minded and try out many things, you never know where a new path may lead you. Work hard and keep your eyes open to what is going on in the world around you, stay true to your vision.

Check out Crimson's website to stay on track with her latest projects and give her a follow on instagram: 

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