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Clothing is a small peek into the soul. It tells so much about a person, their personality, their interests. It never fails to fascinate me.
There has been recent debate on whether designers are born or made. The former is definitely the case for knitwear designer Michelle McCarroll, or ‘Michi’ as she is known to those closest to her. Born in Derry, but raised in Donegal, her passion for design was evident from an early age, and she was rarely seen without a notebook of sketches, a habit she has found difficult to break.
Growing up in an artistic and musical family, and surrounded by the samples from her Grandfather’s successful childrenswear business, she was torn between her love of three-dimensional design and fashion until eventually her greater passion for clothing led to a degree in Fashion and Textiles at The Winchester School of Art. Her sculptural approach to textiles and flair for fashion naturally progressed into an interest in knitwear, and she quickly became inspired by the possibilities of the knitting machine. In 2001 Michelle graduated with a First Class Honours, chosen as one of six from her class to showcase her collection at Graduate Fashion Week in London, and earned a place on the Master’s course at the prestigious Royal College of Art.
Two inspirational years followed, tutored by top British and International designers such as Alber Ebaz from Lanvin, Betty Jackson, Tristian Webber, and the esteemed fashion critic Colin McDowell. Although based in London, she continued to keep close connections with Ireland, winning various National Awards including the RDS Crafts Competition and 2fm’s Bigstar Jeans Competition, and completing a work placement with Lainey Keogh.
After gaining a Masters degree in Fashion Womenswear in 2003, she decided to return to Donegal to set up her own label, ‘Michi’, where her final collection, ‘Eccentric Eclectic’, was snapped up immediately by a local design boutique. In 2004 she won the Special Merit Prize at the Irish Heart Foundation Fashion Awards, and set up her studio/boutique in Letterkenny shortly after, producing mainly one-off commissions for clients throughout Ireland. She launched her ready-to-wear collection in 2005 at Dublin Fashion Week and continues to produce one-off High Fashion Couture pieces.
Michelle’s infatuation with design comes from her unquenchable thirst for new ideas.
She refuses to conform and is totally inspired by individualism. She continues to push the boundaries of what is generally regarded as an ‘old-fashioned’ craft, producing an innovative yet wearable style of clothing.
The distinct ‘Michi’ look encapsulates the fantasy of fashion, demonstrating her appreciation of costume, Art and film, her love of colour, and her total passion and respect for the Art of Couture.
Her silhouettes are soft and feminine, working around classic shapes but with an added quirkiness and personality. They give her clients inner confidence and a sense of glamour.