Michael Stewart, the atemporal designer

A glimpse into a possible future of Haute Couture

3 min read

Michael Stewart is a Royal College of Arts post-graduate born in a small Irish village in County Clare. Exposed to prehistoric sculptures and ancient burial sites from an early age, as they surrounded the rural area in which he grew up, the young designer developed a fascination with anthropology that fed into his MA research. After winning the overall 2013 Limerick School of Art & Design Fashion Degree Show award, he became a recipient of the inaugural Kildare Village Bursary (a bursary awarded to a Royal College Art fashion student in his or her first year of MA graduate study, having graduated of a a BA in Womenswear from Limerick School of Art and Design from an Irish undergraduate university) and used the funds to support his studies and develop his next collection.

In his very first collection, Totem, Stewart drew inspiration from the relationship between humans and the spirit world, through the exploration of spiritism (more specially rituals and shamanic practices), with sculpted neckpieces and visual representations of spirits that connects and suspends cloth on the body, giving the suggestion of an out of body experience.

As a craft based label, Stewart vows to push the boundaries of womenswear through an interdisciplinary design philosophy. Mixing traditional craft techniques with an ultra contemporary aesthetics, he creates garments that fuses cloth, body and artifact.

« I have to see everything in front of me in 3D, I could never make my garments in flat. I need to do things my own way. » Michael Stewart in Another Magazine, October 2017

Indeed, his imagination and singular approach of garments feed on traces of early culture, hand-carved figurines of deities and primitive drawings like the cave paintings of Lascaux (which are rumored to illustrate the feeling of being in trance). The resulting creations are neither nostalgic nor futuristic, yet entirely atemporal.

« Some things are so ancient they look almost futuristic. There’s this stripping back of aesthetics. » Michael Stewart in Another Magazine, October 2017

 « The way I work is really organic. I won’t let a drawing lead me. I really feel what the fabric wants me to do. I really value craft. I like the idea of something having a resonance. » Michael Stewart in Another Magazine, October 2017

For his graduate collection, recently presented at the Royal College of Arts in June, Stewart conceived alien-like silhouettes with draped monochrome dresses that were lined with organic shapes placed around the body.

Photography by Andrew Nuding, Styling by Kieran Kilgallon

« Part of me wants to start my own label – that has always been the plan. But recently, I’ve been re-thinking. I’ve never created anything for anyone else, but I feel like I need to go away and work in couture to really train my eye and bring my skill to the next level. » Michael Stewart in Another Magazine, October 2017

Photography by Andrew Nuding, Styling by Kieran Kilgallon

Photography by Andrew Nuding, Styling by Kieran Kilgallon

With such an uncompromising view on technicality, we’re excited to see the power up effect an experience in haute couture might have on him.

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