Niamh has the art of fashion all wrapped up

Niamh Daniels:
Niamh Daniels: "I want to do something that’s fashionable, not time-driven. Fashion that will be cherished and handed down,” she says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets Niamh Daniels a young Galway fashion designer whose designer silk scarves are in hot demand

Creating fashion that lasts and can be handed down from mother to daughter is the aim of Galway City woman Niamh Daniels whose beautifully designed silk scarves are beginning to make a mark here in Galway and further afield.

Niamh will be displaying her work at the City’s Black Box theatre on November 19 and 20 as part of the annual Food & Craft Gift Fair.

Soft, sheer and vibrantly coloured, these luxury scarves combine Niamh’s two great loves – printmaking and fashion.

She studied Fashion Design in Limerick School of Art and Design at LIT, and then worked in the fashion industry in London and New York before returning to college, doing a Masters in Textile Design in Birmingham City University.

Her main passion was designing fabric rather than cutting clothes so it’s no surprise that she found her niche in luxury textiles.

It’s a world away from the job she had in New York as an assistant technical designer for a company that produced clothes for stores including Top Shop and Urban Outfitters.

There, she was required to focus more on the fit of the fabric than anything else.

The business “was about getting things out as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible”, she recalls. It was an approach that meant the “design and full element was seeped out of it”.

It’s not that Niamh doesn’t appreciate the need to make money – she does.

“But I want to do something that’s fashionable, not time-driven. Fashion that will be cherished and handed down,” she says. “More wearable art than just any old thing.”

It’s been just 10 months since she started producing luxury scarves, with vibrant designs that range from deep blues to warm autumnal shades, taking in pinks and purples along the way. Her designs are inspired by the West of Ireland, she states, by the landscape, the wildlife and the skies.

“We have such amazing sunrises and sunsets, although I’ve seen more sunsets than sunrises!”

Niamh feels her creations are ideal for people like her who wear mostly dark colours.

“It’s a nice colourful, transitional piece that you could be comfortable with; something to wear instead of a necklace or statement jewellery.”

Her scarves are about having fun and standing out, but in a restrained way, she remarks.

Niamh who is 27, was always interested in fashion and make-up and grew up in a household where creativity was nurtured. Her mother Pat Byrne is a well-known artist and, while her father Ollie Daniels has forged a career in technology and management, his parents were both involved in textiles.

Her grandfather, Pat Daniels, who died in 1978, well before Niamh was born, was head tailor in Moons Department Store and her grandmother Margaret, who died in 2011 was a seamstress. When Niamh expressed an interest in design, Margaret gave her a tailor’s book that had belonged to Pat. It’s filled with information about measurements and cutting, Niamh says, and also includes some of Pats own handwritten notes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.