AWARD-winning knitwear designer, Michelle McCarroll, has been producing contemporary fashion and accessories since establishing her label, Michi, in 2003.
Currently based in her home studio in Ramelton, she creates both bespoke clothing for special occasions, and a diffusion wear accessories line of scarves and embroidered jewellery. Everything is hand-loomed on a knitting machine by Michelle herself using the finest natural fibres, her favourites being merino, lambs wool, cashmere and cotton. Michelle’s love for clothing comes from her grandfather, Johnny Butler, who had a successful childrenswear business, Jay Bee, based in Carndonagh, which supplied top stores such as Harrods, C&A and John Lewis.
“I remember visiting my grandparents at the weekends and playing with off cuts of fabric from the factory, or getting a gorgeous dress to wear. I loved every minute of it.” said Michelle.
Michelle moved to England to pursue her love for the arts, obtaining a first class BA Hons in Fashion and Textiles from The Winchester School of Art in 1998. She furthered her studies with a Masters in Womenswear Knitwear at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London in 2003. Michelle decided to return home to Donegal to set up her business, Michi, located in Church Lane, Letterkenny.
Over the years, Michelle has won numerous awards for her knitwear, including the IACI Muriel Gahan Scholarship in 2009 for innovation in Irish craft, and has had dresses worn at both the BAFTAS and IFTAS.
Michelle’s inspiration comes from an eclectic mix of urban and organic structures. She is fascinated by microbiology, which is usually reflected in her textiles, and her fashion silhouettes are reminiscent of early period costume.
“I produce my textiles like pieces of origami; numerous squares folded over and over to produce a structure. I find that this repetitiveness, combined with the knitting process, allows more time for a design to evolve naturally and influence the finished product.”
People might be surprised to know that Michelle originally began studying three dimensional design at college, with the intention of becoming either a furniture or product designer.
“I lived with a textile student at the time, and after a day of designing bridges and comparing my work to her lovely fabrics, I realised something was just not right. I transferred courses the next day,” she said.
Michelle has an exceptional and unique talent and I am a big fan of her colourful, vibrant statement necklaces. She is a designer that continually pushes the boundaries beyond the everyday perception of knitwear.
Her creations are both feminine and contemporary, using a colour palette that is both distinctive and striking. If you would like to view more of Michelle’s designs on www.michi.ie or contact her for commissions at her Ramelton studio.
Michelle’s work has currently been selected as one of fifteen craft workers from all over Ireland to be part of MADE, the annual exhibition and competition hosted by Northern Ireland’s Craft and Design Collective, where public vote determines the winner. The exhibition runs from March 5 to May 2 at ‘space CRAFT’, 9b The Fountain Centre, College Street, Belfast.
Michelle’s diffusion wear line is available from The Donegal Designer Makers collective shop, Main Street, Ardara, www.donegaldesignermakers.com. You can contact Michelle McCarroll on Tel 0860867455 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Zara McDaid can be contacted on Facebook, search ‘Zara Mc Daid Art’, www.zaramcdaid-art.blogspot.ie, e-mail is email@example.com, Twitter @zaramcdaidart and Instragram ZARA MC DAID