It is said in London these days that the very coolest people make their way to Dalston, East London, where you’re likely to bump into international designers and catwalk models in the city’s hippest up and coming fashion destination.
Working busily among the glitterati is Derry girl Sinead Feeney, daughter of Bernadette and John Feeney from Westland Avenue, who, having built up a reputation for her abilities in print design has been scooped up to work as an intern for the Henry Holland fashion house.
Best known for his associations with international models Alexa Chung and Agnes Deyn, Holland is at the forefront of current and exciting British fashion, and Westland Avenue girl Sinead says she was over the moon with being offered the prestigious placement during the summer break from her BA in Fashion at the University of East London.
“Every time we get our holidays I try to get work and build up my experience in the industry,” said Sinead this week, speaking from her home in London.
“I was looking for an internship and when I saw that Henry Holland had an opening I was really interested but I knew there would be huge demand for the place. I applied in May and I didn’t hear anything back for a while and then I got a phonecall and I was asked to go in for a trial day. After that I was offered the internship and I was just so shocked. I’ve worked for designers before but this is definitely the biggest name I’ve worked for and it’s really exciting.”
The 21-year-old described her new working environment as “fast paced.”
“The whole area around Dalston is great. You get off the tube here and there’s just a great atmosphere with brilliant fashion and artists around you everywhere. In the Henry Holland building you see people like Alexa Chung and Agnes Deyn who are huge names in the industry. I have to admit it was really nerve wracking going in for the first time, but everyone’s been lovely here since I started.”
Sinead specialises in designing prints and textiles and says she’s delighted that some of the pieces she’s helping complete will be worn by models in upcoming fashion shows.
“I’m hand embellishing samples and it’s really hands on. I have been thrown in at the deep end but I’m delighted that the work I’m doing will actually be out there, on models, on catwalks for people to see. I’m hoping my time here will open a lot more doors for me.”
Sinead has more than opened her own doors in the industry to date and last year, while working in a London jewellery studio, she worked on an exclusive design piece for international r&b star Rihanna.
While she’s currently focusing her efforts with Henry Holland, former Thornhill pupil Sinead is also delighted with having been chosen as one of the finalists in a competition to design a backdrop for a show by international fashionista Zandra Rhodes.
“I heard about the competition for Zandra Rhodes Autumn exhibition and I entered it. I put together a four piece collection and submitted my ideas. I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d made a shortlist of 30 and now I’ve been told I’m in the last seven so it’s really exciting.
“I’ve had to submit further work and in a few weeks I’ll have to present the work verbally. If I win, my print will be used as the backdrop to the exhibition and it will also be manufactured into a wallpaper, which people can buy. That’s really exciting because the interiors market is huge at the moment.”
Looking back on her childhood in Derry, the talented fashion student said it was hard to pick one thing which inspired her to opt for a career in fashion and design.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been into dressing up a bit. I just loved clothes and I always did art at school so I suppose I just put those two things together.”
The up and coming local designer has also given credit to Derry’s rich history in the textile industry.
“I love hearing about when my granny worked in the Ben Sherman factory here,” said Sinead.
“I think the manufacturing and textile industry was so strong in Derry for so long and we had so many big names who had factories in the city and that’s just amazing. I know there’s talk at the minute of recognising that in some way and I definitely think that should happen.”
In the meantime, from the cut and thrust of one of the fashion capitals of the world Sinead told the Sunday Journal that despite the myths surrounding the fiercely competitive design industry, she has settled in well to her new role.
“There’s definitely a myth that people are horrible in the fashion world and I suppose at the beginning I worried a bit about that because I didn’t know what to expect, especially coming to a big name like Henry Holland but everyone is genuinely lovely and you can actually just be yourself, which is something I think would surprise a lot of people.
“I just feel so lucky to have a job with an international designer and my main hope for the future is that I can continue to find work!”