Words by Tanya Grimson
November 8th, 2019
Continuing our latest series in association with Comfort, where we delve behind the seams of four Irish trailblazers and their unique wardrobes, we are thrilled to bring you part three with architect and creative consultant, Aoife Mulvenna. Aoife explores the deep association her passion for culture, art and architecture plays on her wardrobe choices and how it is important to find beauty and inspiration all around.
For anyone in the fashion or arts scene, Aoife Mulvenna’s Instagram feed is a feast for the senses, where she blends the lines of creative influences with her own clothing aesthetic. Her palette is moody, monochronic and minimal, and this transcends into her own wardrobe selections, how she shops and how she styles her everyday looks. Aoife uses her clothes as an extension of her interests in life as an alternative means of self-expression, creativity and her love for form and structure.
Longevity and sustainability are also key to Aoife’s personal style who explains that with extra care and the use of fabric conditioners we can help preserve the life span of clothes. Aoife embodies the mantra that clothes are not just a uniform but a reflection of who we are as a person, our interests, our passions; for Aoife they are also a representation of her strong beliefs about how important it is to join the slow fashion revolution by caring more and giving fresh life to our existing wardrobe for the sake of the environment re-enforcing the positive message of Comfort’s ‘Long Live Clothes!’
We caught up with this creative trailblazer to deep dive into her cultural influencers, the impact her aesthetic vision plays on her wardrobe choices, and what truly inspires her.
Want to know more? We spoke to Aoife to delve even deeper into her wardrobe choices over the years, how design and architecture significantly influence her style, and how nostalgia and Irish connections give her the most amount of comfort.
What role have clothes played in your career to date?
Coming from an artistic background where colour, tone and texture were never far from any conversation, I naturally moved from experimenting with these attributes on canvas to exploring them in clothing. In that sense, my wardrobe has always been a source of self-expression and exploration, opting for daring, punk attire in my teens to a clean, minimalistic palette nowadays. So, for me, clothing has always been more than just putting something on; for me, it’s a wearable canvas in which to express yourself.
How does great design, be it architecture or fashion, make you feel?
I think one of my first art books was an Egon Schiele book of landscapes. I’ll never forget the feeling that came over me as I rummaged through it. The same feeling arose when I visited architect Sigurd Lewerentz’s work in Stockholm and then again when I laid eyes upon designers Luke and Lucie Meier’s Jil Sander collections. It was the same feeling every time, a feeling of wholeness. In that sense, I recognise there is definitely a specific overlapping aesthetic that I repeatedly find myself drawn to. I’m still exploring the crux of this feeling, but I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia and comfort.
Did you think that being an architect would influence your personal style and how?
Haha, I think 18-year-old, Vivienne Westwood loving me would have thought she’d have half her head shaved for life, so no, I don’t think I anticipated just how much of an impact studying architecture would have on my wardrobe!
I had such an appreciation for the punk aesthetic and what it represented at the time, but I definitely feel architecture has brought me closer to who I am now. By keeping my palette muted it places more importance on structure, cut, proportions and materiality, whilst adding that interchangeable quality to my wardrobe that’s really important given the downward spiral that is today’s climate crisis.
You have garnered a large following on social, what would you attribute this too?
A phrase my mum has plastered over birthday cards and notes of encouragement for the last 27 odd years!
It might sound cheesy, but with Instagram exploding at the seams with clone influencer accounts, it can be easy to get sucked into the ‘what’s trending now’ hype. I, myself, have found my following staggered probably due to the fact I’m not selling the popular pretty version of beauty; fake tan, sparkling white nashers, tight dresses, a devoted gym life…it’s not me.
It can be frustrating at times but I didn’t start my account in search of acceptance or to obtain a large following, it was a platform in which to express myself on; a curated feed full of architecture, art, fashion and culture. Having a supportive audience was an unexpected bonus I’m really grateful for!
Do you have a personal connection with your wardrobe and how would you describe that?
My wardrobe is definitely a source of empowerment!
If I’m having a rubbish day I’ll opt for an outfit I know will make me feel comfortable and confident. I’m a big fan of suits; they can so easily be dressed down with a pair of Grandad sandals (Vagabond), leather flip flops (COS) or a clean pair of runners (Veja) if you want a more casual look.
How has your heritage influenced your personal style?
My identity has been formed through years of holidaying on the weathered west coast of Ireland in the likes of Achill Island, Louisburgh, Roundstone, Dingle and Schull. It’s within these environments that I’ve found some of the most powerful landscapes and authentically crafted buildings, pieces of furniture, materials, lamps, cups and saucers and other nik-naks. These little tokens, derivative of this island, remind me of my strong nostalgic connection to this place and encourage a sense of responsibility to it, so I think that’s why I reflect so much of my Irish heritage in my clothing.
My mum and granny are also talented knitters and dressmakers, using locally sourced wool and linens to make their garments. I’ve watched on in awe of their skills and love of place since I was a child so in a way, I’m keen to carry that on.
Do you carefully curate your wardrobe and your feed?
My wardrobe and my feed definitely go hand in hand. My account is design-driven, with each post researched and inspired by a place, a landscape, a building or something I’ve come across in a museum, like a painting or a piece of furniture. My outfit choice naturally then follows suit, influenced by the colour palette, texture and craftsmanship of the thing I’ve been inspired by.
I recently cleared out my wardrobe, limiting myself to a small, interchangeable collection of clothing. Call it OCD but having a well-curated rail with quality pieces makes life a whole lot easier and a lot more sustainable! I often layer the few pieces I have, pairing them with complementary toned items, so I get a lot of wear out of the small capsule wardrobe I’ve limited myself too.
Clothes are more than just clothes. They have power; they tell stories; they carry memories. Comfort knows just how important it is to care for our beloved clothes and make them last. Together, we’re celebrating how extraordinary clothes really are as we delve into their psychological power and the stories behind them.
Long live clothes!
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