Richard Malone’s Show Was a Bittersweet Ode to His Grandmother

Pin It
Richard Malone Spring/Summer 2020 Claire Brand
Richard Malone Spring/Summer 2020Photography by Claire Brand

The passing of a loved one caused Richard Malone to create a Spring/Summer 2020 collection anchored in “grief, honesty and change”, shown in London earlier this week

Irish designer Richard Malone has often cited his grandmother, Nellie, as a source of support and inspiration in his work. A seamstress herself, the pair would discuss Malone’s work at length. Malone’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection – shown yesterday in London and styled by senior fashion editor at AnOther Magazine Nell Kalonji – was dedicated to Nellie, who sadly died earlier this year. The loss of a beloved grandmother and constant champion (Nellie always sat front row at Malone’s shows) led the designer to “a place of creative refuge”, resulting in a collection exploring “grief, honesty and change”. An immediate change being that Malone will no longer present traditional seasons: future collections will be named after their presentation date.

In blues, greens, reds and purples, and among sculptures by set designer Janina Pedan, Malone presented ruched blouses and gowns, outerwear and trousers with sheer panels revealing pocket bags and seams, and jackets with elegantly exaggerated shoulders and sleeves. Beneath these pieces were tights, mesh tops and bodysuits printed with squiggling lines, the patterns taken from doodles on scrap paper and receipts left over from time Malone and Nellie would spend together. Such graphic lines were echoed in the silver jewellery that adorned the collection: strips of metal coiled and curved by hand into earrings, necklaces and belts. For footwear, the NewGen designer collaborated with the British brand Malone Souliers.

As in previous seasons, Malone, who graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2014, has incorporated an element of sustainability into his collection. The silhouettes of dresses and jackets have been enhanced with recycled padding; fabric offcuts are used in new garments; Italian Taroni silks from past collections are used to make new suiting; and archive samples have been imagined anew.

“I don’t think there is much to clothes, until people are in them,” Malone told Alexander Fury last year. The designer creates custom pieces for a roster of private clients, and often thinks in terms of how working women might inhabit his clothes. In AnOther Magazine A/W15, Malone explained why he makes machine-washable clothes: “I think it’s different when you come from a very working-class background; you tend to think about practical things like that. My mum always asks, ‘How would you wash it?’ I think that kind of consideration has to be a part of design; we need to genuinely consider how women will wear the pieces and live with them.”