This season was an opportunity for Robyn Lynch to look within and explore what it means – and looks – to be Irish. So in place of a journey to somewhere far away, the designer is taking you to the rainy fields of the Emerald Isle. As a finalist of the 2023 International Woolmark Prize, Robyn was tasked with exploring the topic of ‘dialogue’. Her own interpretation hones in on stereotypes as forms of communication and the numerous associations her identity garners with others – without as much as uttering a word. “I Googled ‘Irish T-shirt’ and what came out were a bunch of green, leprechauns, shamrocks, pints of Guinness and harps,” says Robyn. But instead of trying to prove the stereotypes wrong, she leaned into the iconography by turning those Irish-isms on their head and presenting them as symbols of pride.
This season started with a singular colour palette, consisting of four different shades. Pale pistachio, lizard green, deep sage and phthalo green come together in a symphony of hues, executed in Robyn’s most ambitious textile portfolio yet. For AW23, the focus is almost exclusively on Merino wool, a fabric that has become part of her vernacular over the years. “It’s much more complex than all synthetic and most natural fibres, which provides Merino wool with a unique set of benefits that’s unmatched. The fabric absorbs UV radiation and is both 100% biodegradable and renewable, as well as naturally resistant to fire due to its high moisture and nitrogen context. It’s thermoregulatory and its fibres can transfer large quantities of moisture vapour from the body. This means that the microclimate next to the skin stays dry, which really came into play when designing the pieces,” says Lynch.
Excited by these learnings, she dug into the origin story of the textile to push its capabilities and maximise its potential across a complete wardrobe – from top to toe. Though innovation is key, some of the major design decisions materialised via revisiting signature ideas from her past collections, going all the way back to her AW19 debut as part of Fashion East, and executing them in lush Merino treatments. A hero piece emerges in the form of a hybrid knit; a showcase of engineering thanks to its seamless blend of traditional weaving techniques reminiscent of a vintage Aran jumper. Extending the key narrative of knitwear as outerwear, Robyn reimagines a set of active classics in variations of Merino, including an oversized hoodie, a box-fit fleece and an elegant hiking cargo trouser. Her now-signature party print gets a Hibernian makeover on a ribless Merino jacquard jumper, with references to Céilí, a Gaelic folk dance dating back to the 19th century. The season rounds off with a more focused selection of other core fabrications, including denims, jerseys, deadstock wool and ocean waste-recycled Seaqual® nylons, all custom-dyed to match the Pantone shades of green.
The looks are completed with a selection of knitted accessories in balaclavas and beanies that match some of the knitting techniques seen in the clothes. Footwear comes courtesy of Geox, an Italian brand known for their breathable and waterproof fabrics. Their ‘Snake Man’ model is a sleek contemporary slip-on silhouette that embodies the notion of stylised activewear. Incidentally, they also happen to be the favourite shoe of Robyn’s dad who has one in every colourway imaginable.
The soundtrack of the show is developed in collaboration with another strong Irish woman who is redefining tradition through her own mode of creative self-expression. Emerging musician Róisín Berkeley created a custom track for the occasion, and is performing it on the catwalk on her harp as the Robyn Lynch boys parade a line-up of looks resembling the inventory of the most elevated souvenir shop you might stumble upon at Dublin Airport.
Styling: Ben Schofield, Casting: Jonathan Johnson, Hair: Sophie Jane Anderson at Future Rep, Make Up: Grace Sinnot at Future Rep, Shoes: Geox, Music: Róisín Berkeley, Show Notes: Dino Bonačič, Graphic Design: Other Office, Studio Team: Holly Francis, Shinya Inoue, Rebecca Halpenny, Noa Maras, Production: Blonstein, Press: Village, Styling Assistants: Kit Swann, Dominik Radomski.
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO:
Ben Schofield, Jonathan Johnson, Grace Sinnot, Sophie Anderson, Dino Bonačić, Nicky Gard, Rachel Cooper, Alice Sear, Blondstein, Sarah Mower and the NEWGEN judging panel, The Woolmark Company, Jemma Breen, David Farrel, Minami Soma, Simon Sweeney, Shauna Buckley, Andrew Nuding, Kieran Kilgallon, Holly Francis, past and present studio team, Geox, Hendricks, Saoirse Ní Scanláin, Róisín Berkeley, OS Studio, Joe Cruz, Olive Gilson, Baldoyle Print, Mam, Dad, Enya, Adi & Andy x