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Meet the winner of the Brown Thomas Designer To Watch 2022 bursary award in association with NCAD.

This year’s winner is Rebecca McCabe, a final year fashion design student from the National College of Art and Design whose collection "The Pookie" explores how our relationship with formal clothing has changed as a result of the pandemic. She works sportswear with more formal silhouettes to create a collection that is truly unique.

We are delighted to partner with NCAD for the annual bursary prize award and to identify and support promising design talent that is emerging. It is always so exciting to see the next generation of designers and the innovative and imaginative work they are creating.

Shelly Corkery

We caught up with the young designer to find out more about what inspires her, her favourite pieces in her wardrobe and what she wants to be remembered for.

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Rebecca McCabe the winner of the Brown Thomas Designer To Watch 2022 bursary award pictured with a piece from her winning collection.

On becoming a fashion designer…

Growing up I always loved art, but it was not until I was nearly finished school that design became a real interest for me. The idea of translating research into fabrics and using garments, colour and pattern as a means of telling a story is so inspiring to me.

On her aesthetic…

My latest collection definitely has a very sporty aesthetic to it featuring a lot of lycra and power net. The collection also has an extremely relaxed, fun feel to it with oversized coats and jackets featuring bright colours and contrasting prints.

On handmade clothes…

My designs are all created and sewn by myself here in Ireland. Working mostly from my home studio in Westmeath.

On her creative process…

My process begins usually by pooling together images I have been collecting over some time, mostly images of nature or of places I have visited recently, so I derive patterns and textures from these images. My work always features a lot of surface texture experimentation. The designs tend to begin with the texture, allowing the form to follow. This allows for a lot of free form shapes and also a lot of experimentation when it comes to the silhouette. This is the most exciting part of my creative process.

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Rebecca McCabe the winner of the Brown Thomas Designer To Watch 2022 bursary award in a tank top of her own making.

On being awarded the NCAD Brown Thomas 'Designer to Watch’ 2022…

To have been awarded the NCAD Brown Thomas ‘Designer to Watch’ has been such an honour. There was such a high standard of creativity making it all the more surreal to have won. The award has given me great confidence in my own ability and makes me really excited to begin the invaluable mentorship with Brown Thomas and to continue growing my brand.

On the future of her brand…

At the moment my label is driven by narrative, which is a feature I would like to keep at the forefront of my brand. I want my garments to tell a story or allow people to connect with them, as I feel there is a huge emotional disconnect to the clothes we purchase at the moment due to the throwaway culture fashion has adopted. Comfort is also a huge component of my label, for me if you feel comfortable in what you wear, you will feel confident. Clothes are more than just a tool to make you look good, they are a tool to make you feel good.

Nature is always a huge inspiration for me, having grown up in the countryside it has had an undeniable impact on me. I have always found nature so interesting, the constant change and endless textures and colours that can be found within it. More recently I have become particularly interested in observing humans and how we interact with each other and the world around us. So my family and friends have been hugely inspirational in my recent creative processes.”

On her green laser-cut coat…

My most challenging design had to be my laser cut green coat. I created the fabric through bonding shot silk with vilene, which was then bonded to a PU waterproof fabric. The many layers of fabric allowed for an extremely stiff surface. Laser cutting into this fabric allowed for more movement however manoeuvring the coat through the sewing machine was certainly a challenge.

On positive changes in the fashion industry…

I would love to see repurposing or upcycling of unwanted garments becoming a bigger player in clothes manufacturing. A lot of smaller brands have already adopted this technique and I think it could be really interesting seeing it on a much larger scale.

You can view Rebecca's winning collection at CREATE 2022 in Brown Thomas Dublin.



Want to hear from the rest of this year’s incredible mix of designers? In CREATE 2022, we sit down with all 27 to learn more about them.