Wexford born and Central Saint Martins educated, Richard Malone’s considered designs have already been worn by Lorde, picked up the LVMH Grand Prix scholarship and attracted the Deutsche Bank Award for Fashion. With stints at Louis Vuitton and Giles Deacon to his name, the social media shy designer made his Fashion East debut this September.

Because spoke to Richard to find out more about this young designer and his work...

I’m inspired by the people from where I'm from, which is a real periphery. It's that sense of a lack of vanity in dressing, there's no elitism, no labels, but there are practical ways of dressing. It's a very working class town so there are a lot of uniforms, like my dad’s a painter and decorator so has overalls or my mam has an old Argos uniform. Then there's this great contrast with the traditions, the communions, the weddings, etc; it's a really interesting paradox and there are fascinating contrasts there as you grow up.

I studied fashion (in Wales), but the work I produced was purely performance and sculpture based. Never really clothing. I am not a big fan of over referencing, I think it's a problem with fashion brands now. There is a lack of originality due to the time constraints. I like to really immerse myself in the theme, undertaking photography or writing projects, a lot of performance based pieces, and I'm always drawing.

It's vital to me that it's original and intuitive. The research part is so far away from being clothes, I find it really funny when journalists start to attach meaning to it. It's a whole other world with so much work in it. I really like to push that side of things. Creating my own body of original work and then filtering that until it becomes the collection.

Central Saint Martins taught me to be myself. It's crucial. Have a point of view and stick to it, develop and challenge yourself but never lose your point of view. My work has always been really different and going to Saint Martins was the first time I felt that that's actually a really good thing.

Winning the LVMH Grand Prix scholarship in my final year was the first time I've ever not had to work several part time jobs to fund the course; it completely changed that year for me. I was never entitled to a student loan being Irish, so I've had to work a crazy amount of jobs to pay for it. That relieved so much stress and really allowed me to focus on the collection. I made so many garments by the end, and I made every single piece myself. That's something that I'm really proud of now looking back. I really feel like I developed a set of skills in the final year that are so helpful now. But I am a severe workaholic. 

Working in Paris taught me what I'm comfortable with as a designer and also what I consider luxury. I'm not suited to super mass market products. Luxury for me really involves time, and I feel that with the pace of fashion now that sense of luxury is completely overlooked in favour of just churning stuff out. There is nothing contemporary about that sense of narcissism with the mega brands. Have some integrity.

More transparency at major houses would improve the industry; more facts, more research, more investment into sustainable practices. I think it's really critical in moving (the industry) forward and in being a contemporary designer. It's really important to educate the generations coming through, as opposed to hiding information from the public. It creates a totally false sense of luxury.

I don't design clothes for hangers I design them for people. I am always sewing, fitting, making forms in any fabric I can find and then repeating. It is a lengthy process but I love it. I get really involved in that and obsess over silhouettes. I don't like to draw out a plan and do 20 versions of the same idea, it's so boring; I think you have to allow yourself the freedom to make horrible things.

Clothes are a physical thing and digital images often work against the value and craft of a piece, it needs to be touched, worn. I'm sure social media can be useful for growing a following, but I'm not majorly into it. I love meeting my clients and fitting them, really seeing their world and introducing them to mine. It's a conversation, a physical one which feels so much more personal than a hashtag conversation.
Fashion East is an amazing platform and they are so incredibly supportive. I feel really lucky to be a part of it and it's great to be encouraged as an individual designer, it really feels like a great fit going forward and I am really grateful to Lulu and the team for their support.

Text by Zoe Whitfield