The Story Behind Parnell Mooney’s Salacious New Collection

Pin It
Rory Parnell Mooney Spring/Summer 2022 SS22
Parnell Mooney Spring/Summer 2022Photography by Oscar Foster-Kane

The Irish designer derives inspiration from dogging for his Spring/Summer 2022 collection, which includes womenswear looks for the first time

In today’s narrative-driven fashion landscape, most brands prioritise their conceptual angle over the quality of the actual garments they sell. This is not the case for Irish designer Rory Parnell Mooney, who insists that the “cut and feel of things” is his absolute priority. “Ten years ago I would have been obsessed with the idea of making clothes based on specific concepts,” he says. “Now I’m much more into the idea of making people feel hot and confident. It’s really as simple as that for me.”

After graduating from the illustrious Fashion MA course at CSM under the rigorous direction of Louise Wilson, Parnell Mooney established his eponymous menswear brand in 2015. His first collection mixed ecclesiastical style-garments and dress codes of European protest movements together. Combining the sartorial tribes of religion and anarchy together was a salacious move, but it paid off; he was picked up by Lulu Kennedy under Fashion East’s menswear scheme MAN, and went on to show three collections on the London schedule that explored themes as varied as religion, Suprematism and protest. Even now, he insists that ritualism and religion are always at the back of his mind while designing, citing that “cathartic bodily thing” that happens at the church and in the rave.

In 2017, Parnell Mooney decided to step back from fashion design entirely. “It felt like I was making clothes for shows only and not really thinking about real life,” he says. He took a two-year hiatus from fashion design, choosing instead to focus purely on teaching his students at CSM and LCF. In 2019 he relaunched his label, this time just as “Parnell Mooney” without the “Rory” – a decision which felt “cooler and cleaner” to him, and also marked the opening of a new aesthetic chapter for the brand. The designer launched his web store last week too, which offers a range of signature pieces – lace-up jeans, vests, and denim jackets.

The Irish designer’s new S/S22 collection has a distinctly nocturnal feel, heralding in a new era of post-lockdown dressing for the club – plus it features womenswear looks for the first time. In a lookbook shot by Oscar Foster-Kane and art-directed by Jamie Reid, leather-clad models prance around after dark in a forest, illuminated by what appears to be car headlights. Dogging – that particularly British pastime of voyeuristic group sex – would seem to be the subtext here. Parnell Mooney talks of the “dark, salacious references” he exchanged with Irish stylist Gerry O’Kane, which included “people caught in the headlights, in the woods after dark, people coming and going and being caught on film.” Dark fishnet vests, lace-up trousers and shiny vinyl two-pieces prove perfect for the club, while more colourful military-inspired sweatshirts and tie-dye cycling shorts work as daytime alternatives. “It’s almost like putting on these clothes to build up this confident bravado to stride out into the night,” he says. Whether you’re on your way to the club, or – dare I say it – the woods, Parnell Mooney’s clothes have you covered with quality and confidence.