If there’s one thing the Irish know how to do, it’s emigrate. Particularly when it pertains to the arts, Irish people have a tendency to pack up shop and leave for distant shores. As of late standout designers, musicians, and artists carrying an Irish name have found the home market too constrictive a playing field and have sought creative expression elsewhere. It goes without saying that the Irish creative hub is minute and unfortunately, more often than not, causes only splashes verses the waves of its international counterparts.
If you happen to have chosen a path in the arts it can be hard to picture yourself staying in a country that claims Ryan Tubridy as a cultural figure head. It’s a sad reality for a place so rife with talent. Aisling Farinella, a young and gifted stylist, who counts working on Rihanna’s We Found Love video among her achievements, has recently emerged with her new fashion publication, Thread, and is proving that there is in fact a place within the Irish market for those with a creative eye.
“If you’re missing something you may as well just do it yourself,” Farinella says as she swings from side to side on her wheelie chair in her charming South Dublin studio. “There’s a phenomenal amount of amazing Irish people working internationally in fashion, and I think that’s something completely looked over all the time. If we channel into that a bit more, then the people who are here will have the confidence to do stuff, and to do stuff here. You don’t need to go away to be good at something.”
Farinella is a testament to her own words. Following a couple of years of floundering, the Dublin native found herself, somewhat unexpectedly, pursuing a career in styling: “I had a friend who was a photographer and he asked me to style a shoot, because he knew I was doing a bit of wardrobe. I really didn’t have a clue about fashion, styling, nothing. I said yes. I did one shoot with him and I absolutely loved it, and that’s where it all began.”
After establishing the Loft Market, a creative market place for young designers, along with embarking on ventures in fashion buying, Farinella, who had maintained her job as a stylist throughout, decided to add editing to her list of skills. Thread magazine is her latest venture; a refreshing addition to the Irish fashion scene, it includes interviews with designers and artists alike, and contains crisp fashion spreads that wouldn’t go amiss on the pages of Vogue. Yet, one of the most striking aspects of Thread is its emphasis on the range of creative talent Ireland itself has to offer: “[I wanted to] make it very Irish and independent but without having a green flag or a leprechaun jumping around on the front of it.”
It’s reassuring to think that such a platform exists in Dublin. One could be forgiven for assuming that all things high-fashion came under the dominance of our British neighbour. Even Farinella admits that the market here can be stifling: “In a way it’s something that you kind of wake up every morning and think: ‘what the hell am I doing here?’”
Forsaking moments of doubt, Farinella opted to stay and has managed to carve out a living for herself in her native city. For all the opportunities that Dublin may fail to offer, there are also benefits in staying put: “I was learning new things, being challenged, and they were opportunities that I think I was lucky to get here, and would have been very hard to come by in London.”
Perhaps it’s not all that surprising that Farinella refused to follow the Irish template and make the pilgrimage to London. She is not necessarily what you would expect when you hear the words fashion editor. Soft-spoken and unassuming, the UCD alumna is different to the archetypal figure of the ruthless Amazonian-looking fembot, whose personality is drawn straight from the pages of The Devil Wear Prada. She is an extremely successful stylist who admits that her choice of degree was based on its level of difficultly, or lack thereof: “I did the flakiest subjects. I did Italian, because I’m half Italian and already had fluent Italian, so I thought that would be easy enough, and I did Greek and Roman Civilisation as well, which everybody said was the easiest thing. So I actually went for the easiest things, it’s a bit shameful.”
Farinella neither conforms in the manner in which she began her career nor the manner in which she is choosing to carry it out. While Irish natives such as Simone Rocha are waving the nation’s flag on an international platform, Aisling Farinella has rooted her feet firmly on Irish ground and with that is proving that you don’t have to leave where you’re from to create something great.