Sean Kelly presents his graduate collection as the second instalment within his ongoing body of work: The Series. Building on the first chapter, Series One: Man, his final collection, Series Two: Sleep, explores the concept of life on a metaphorical island, an existential reality.
Kelly’s island, however, is one of sartorial splendour. His delicately balanced colour scheme of greens and neutrals is skilfully offset by the shadows of the pleats which form the structure of many of his clothes.
The layers of Kelly’s island begin to appear as colours are contrasted by the shadows of his pleats and tailoring. In turn, the soft drapery of his shirts and knits form further layers which build upon the subtle play of difference he has already established. His striking, photographic imagery forms a kaleidoscope of visual intrigue. Effortlessly modern with a nod to a Grecian understanding of masculinity, Kelly presents a collection which dares to chase both the realities of commercial design and a desire for artistic purity.
Sean, you have produced an extremely elegant and wearable collection. Did you intend to design a commercial range of clothing?
For Series Two: Sleep, I wanted to develop a commercial feeling within the collection but without losing the excitement of show pieces and interesting twists in design. I developed the collection as if it were going into production by including a full factory production package as I wanted a collection that would lead me into the world of design and show a range of abilities.
By producing a full commercial package, do you feel that your collection is complete?
I think every designer is searching and we never feel “complete” because an idea is endless until limitations are introduced which create editing and refinement. I would have loved to keep adding to this collection and even worked on set design to help tell the complete story.
By having specific restrictions, my collection became very concentrated and somewhat pure in design with each look being very strong and unique but also harmonious in entirety.
Where did you find your inspiration for this collection? How does it relate to your inspiration for Series One?
Inspiration came from unusual places for this collection: surreal islands, tropical landscapes and mortality were predominate themes. Through my collections, I approach it as telling a story to an audience; there are of course bases for backgrounds of locations, landscape and history. Through this, grow characters who, in themselves, have personality and maybe a bit of myself is added into these characters. This helps guide my designing and also keeps me focused on one story.
How do you develop the story from here?
I work with a lot of visual images in the beginning to help build the story, colour and ideas. As it develops, I then begin searching for tactile aids: ropes, fabrics, and yarns that all add to the story. I like to have my visual aids open and on boards at all stages of designing to help keep a level of continuity throughout the process. I am a very fast and rough pattern maker; to begin with, I want to explore as many shapes and silhouettes in toile form before deciding which ones are speaking to me to further develop and refine. A lot of the time, there are a lot of ideas that are amazing in my head or that I have wanted to do for a long time and when the toile is developed, it’s horrible! It then gets out of my system and I can continue to design without fear of missing out an idea in the back of my mind.