Scarf designer Ciara Silke has travelled widely and worked for many fashion houses but says her favourite place will always be Galway …
Galway will always be my Wonderful Little Place. I discovered this while working for DVF in New York. I loved the hustle and bustle of the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, the hectic schedule, running to parties every night after work, and being back in early the following morning after a commute on the subway, often in 90 degree heat! Yet I longed to get back to Connemara where I could stand by the sea and breathe in the salty air. New York can get claustrophobic in between the high-rise buildings.
Working in the DVF studio was incredible. Diane von Furstenberg was often in her office in the building and it was so inspiring to hear her talking about the brand she’d built up single-handedly. When my time was up though, I was so happy to return to the most beautiful county in Ireland.
One of my favourite places in Galway is O’Grady’s on the Pier in Barna, just outside the city. I worked there as a waitress for many years while at college. Seafood is their speciality and their chowder is simply the best. The highlight of working there was when I looked after actor Martin Sheen’s table one evening. I had just watched The Departed so we had a good chat about the crime drama in which he starred.
One of the best things to do on a Saturday is to sit outside a café on Shop Street in Galway city and watch people going by. Galway attracts a mix of colourful, creative characters and it’s fun to watch the locals mixing with visitors on the medieval streets.
I set up my own design studio in Galway three years ago. Working with silk and other natural fabrics is my passion and I have always loved experimenting with the ways in which these fabrics change colour when I use certain tones, pigments and printing techniques. I am now working on my new silk scarf collection, inspired by the exotic flowers I discovered on recent trips to botanical gardens in the US. This year, my husband and I went to Austin, Texas and down to San Antonio, which is about 150 miles from the border with Mexico. The River Walk in San Antonio was just stunning: there is a rich Mexican influence in the vibrant colours and the planting. These elements have made their way into the new collection with respect to the colour palette and the prints.
Each piece of mine is designed in my studio and printed in Como, Italy. I often pop over to Italy to check on production and my husband comes with me on these trips. We fly into Milan and travel by train to Como. I strive to fuse the wildness and vibrancy of my west of Ireland heritage with a modern, sleek and timeless style, rendered in striking colours and fine Italian fabrics. www.ciarasilke.com.
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