In support of the talents of tomorrow, Greenwich Peninsula’s NOW Gallery presents their annual Fashion Commission, where one designer receives funding to put on a show unlike any other. This year, menswear designer Robyn Lynch is following in the footsteps of Matty Bovan, Nicholas Daley, and Mowalola, with her debut exhibition dubbed ‘Greetings from Ireland’. A look inside the designer’s creative process, visitors immerse themselves in Lynch’s whimsical world.
What immediately captures attention is the unconventional presentation within a lime green inflatable structure harkening to the bouncy castles of childhood. An apt setting for Lynch, whose designs are so rooted in nostalgia often pulling from memories of her formative years for inspiration. Created in collaboration with fellow Irishman, the set designer Rory Mullen, the installation symbolises the playfulness that’s come to define her eponymous label.
‘I wanted to create a physical space to house the rich essence of Robyn’s practice. Inviting the viewer to enter into an inflatable structure - enveloping and immersing them in Robyn’s memories, family, national identity and sense of humour that is essential to her brand. The structure is influenced by 1960’s utopian housing - bringing together its ideals of optimism and playfulness,’ explains Mullen in the exhibition’s press release.
Lynch and Mullen are all smiles when I meet them for a tour of the exhibition. ‘I want people to have fun’, Lynch says as we enter the neon inflatable. ‘I want people to be impressed with the structure but then I want them to leave feeling a personal connection with the brand. I want them to feel like they’re part of the community.'
If that was the goal, it’s certainly been achieved. Housed within the inflatable are three toiles from the designer’s earliest collections. Lynch tells me she wanted the display to be more dynamic than just standard mannequins wearing her garments. Engaging with visitors, the designs have notes taped to them with messages like ‘I’ll add the buttons myself’. It’s a part of the design process that is all too common, yet hidden away to fein perfection.
On the wall adjacent is another peek at Lynch’s creative process. From floor to ceiling a collage of images covers the wall like an IRL Pinterest board. The images range from photos of fittings to posters with graphics that would end up on the runway and even buttons and fabric swatches. For a more in-depth look at the realities of getting a collection together, the next room plays footage from the designer’s atelier as her team stitches and sews her vibrant designs.
The exhibition ends with an interactive created in partnership with video game developer and publisher Kepler and media artist Pauric Freeman. As if things couldn’t get more playful, visitors are captured on greyscale CCTV-esque footage as they are stamped with digital clothing and graphics from Lynch’s repertoire.
In summary, 'Greetings from Ireland' is a testament to Robyn Lynch's ability to seamlessly blend fashion, art, and storytelling. The exhibition offers a playful and immersive experience, breaking away from the conventions of the fashion world while inviting visitors to connect with the brand on a deeper level. For those seeking a whimsical journey into the heart of Irish-inspired fashion, NOW Gallery provides the perfect backdrop for Robyn Lynch's imaginative exploration of identity and culture.
‘Greetings from Ireland’ is open from Friday 8th December 2023 – Sunday 25th February 2024 at NOW Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula.