I recently moved into my new studio space in The Chocolate Factory Creative Community, right in the centre of Dublin city. It is a wonderful, bright and airy space with huge windows on three sides. The lovely Enda O'Dowd came over and took a 360 degree video for me last week. Take a look around:
It still needs a good hard cleaning and maybe some paint, but I am delighted to have such a lovely, welcoming space to work in. Please do call in and say hello if you're nearby, even if it's only for a coffee in the delicious Blas Cafe downstairs!
It has always been a dream to have my work exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and magically this is actually happening! It will go on show for two weeks from October 26th as part of Conservation Couture: The Animal Ball. When the lovely folk at Elephant Family asked me to take part in their fundraising event, the 2016 Animal Ball, I was delighted to be asked again. The 2013 ball was so much fun to make pieces for, I immediately jumped at the chance to join other designers in helping a great cause, with the phenomenal honour of pieces being shown at the V&A and Selfridges.
I chose the lemur as the endangered animal that I would base my 20 creations on. Lemurs are in critical danger of becoming extinct due to hunting and the rapid and widespread destruction of habitat in their native Madagascar. They are such gorgeous, fascinating and intelligent animals, full of character, and I hope I can do them justice and raise awareness of just how much we stand to lose if we don't act now to prevent this from happening.
"A Consipiracy of Lemurs" by Leonora Ferguson. Image courtesy of Elephant Family
The exhibition is curated by Ryan Lanji and will display "an exclusive collection of couture masks, created by the world’s greatest fashion houses and inspired entirely by the animal kingdom".
Leonora's lemurs listed by the V&A as one of the "Highlights of the Exhibition". Image taken from the V&A website.
The creations will be on display in an area of the Museum not usually open to the public, the Cupola, and will feature works by design houses including Charlotte Tilbury, Chloé, Jimmy Choo, Alice Temperley, Georgia Hardinge, Prabal Gurung, and milliners Philip Treacy and Piers Atkinson. Conservation Couture: The Animal Ball Collection will opening in the V&A on Wednesday October 26th for two week. For tickets and more information click here.
After the success of the Elephant Family Animal Ball in 2013, Leonora is delighted to announce that she will be taking part in an even bigger, better Animal Ball event later this year in November 2016. The 2013 ball attracted a huge amount of attention to Leonora, after her iguana headpiece was chosen by Cara Delevingne and her matching flamingo creations commissioned by Elephant Family's Ruth and Mary Powys.
This year, Elephant Family, backed by Royal Presidents, TRH Price of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, are partnering with four of the most effective NGOs in the conservation sector; The Aspinall Foundation, Space for Giants, Lion Guardians and Save the Rhino to create an event that will help save Asian and African elephants, lowland gorillas, lions and rhinos from extinction. The event will be the biggest and most important fundraiser in Europe, aiming to power the conservation of the world's endangered wildlife in the most inspired and creative way possible. Inspired by Truman Capote's Black & White Dance and returning to the era of formal dinners pre-ball, 40 of the best restaurants, private members clubs and notable private homes will host simultaneous delightful animal-inspired dinners across London. Afterwards, a bestiary of beautiful creatures will converge and make their entrance at the Animal Ball, where a carnival of the animals will play out to a full orchestra fused with top musical acts.
Leonora will be one of 30 top fashion houses from all over the world creating animal masks, fascinators and head gear. These include such huge labels as Burberry, Dior, Alice Temperley, Charlotte Tilbury, Swarovski, Jimmy Choo, Matthew Williamson, DVF, Manolo Blahnik, Chloe, Aquazurra, Amanda Wakeley and more top names in the fashion world. A piece from each designer will be displayed at a special Animal Ball exhibition in the Victoria & Albert Museum for two weeks from the 26th of October, entitled Conservation Couture and curated by Ryan Lanji. Afterwards, the pieces will go on display in Selfridges flagship store on Oxford Street, London.
Leonora is busy at the moment creating 20 beautiful creatures that will bejewel guests including members of the British Royal Family along with animal loving treasures from the arts, fashion, high-society, film and music worlds. She is honoured to be contributing to an event that will inspire people to conserve the animals and landscape that make our planet magical. The Animal Ball will take place on November 22nd in a secret location in London.
There will be no ticket sales - attendance is by way of a museum-worthy animal mask only. For more information about the 2016 Animal Ball, click here.
For more sneak previews of Leonora's animal ball pieces, see her Instagram profile.
Hats and Horses!
I entered my headpiece Murmurations into this year's RDS National Craft Awards and was thrilled to be included in the exhibition that ran during the Dublin Horse Show.
It was inspired by the hypnotic swirling patterns of starlings in flight and star constellations.
It was an even bigger thrill and a huge shock that my piece was awarded the Traditional Lacemakers of Ireland Award!
I'll be given two days of classes in Irish lacemaking, which I'm really looking forward to and will keep you posted on how I get on!
MONOGRAMMED WITH DNA
A collaboration with Jason Ruane
Through the entire history of fashion, people have sought to express their own unique and individual message through their clothing. The personalization of a product can take many forms; we explore a new way…
The intricate science of DNA testing and Genome Sequencing has been the preserve of expensive labs with huge resources but recently, it has become possible for anyone to find out their genetic makeup. Every person is built up with unique DNA, including about 20,000 genes, subtly making each person different. Direct-to-consumer gene testing has emerged and is providing regular folks a previously unimaginable insight into the basic building blocks of life, for which they are made. For example, the cost went from 100 million dollars for the first person in 2003 to 100 dollars in 2015.
The thread pattern in this hat is a direct encoding from the owner’s genetic map.
How it was done
23andMe.com is a fascinating company which offers this gene testing service. Jason signed up online; receiving a vial and returning it with a saliva sample. They ran it through an array of laboratory steps and automated bio-chem reactions, growing millions of copies of Jason’s DNA then running it through the sequencing operations to eventually find the list of genes. Jason went online and downloaded the 12MB file containing a raw listing of his genes.
For regular visitors to my site you may have noticed the gorgeous new photographs of my work.
These are the results of a collaboration with a number of brilliant creatives all based in Belfast that I felt had to get a mention.
First up, my fantastic stylist, Jamie Russell. We threw around a few ideas, I shared some mood boards to get across the general feeling of the work and left it in Jamie's capable hands to bring together a look incorporating some of my new hats and inspired by my latest scarf prints.
He picked out some incredible pieces of clothing to style with the headpieces and scarves (as skirts/tops), including this piece of his own making in clear PVC. Jamie brought together the right people for the job to bring this photoshoot to life and found this cool urban setting.
Creating both the hair and make-up looks was Rebecca Bryson. She picked up the colours in the clothes we were using gorgeously with just the right level of drama and really caught the mood we were going for.
The make-up was edgy and flawless and complimented my headpieces perfectly.
Our beautiful model, Niamh McIlfatrick stepped in at the last minute and injected the look with her own sassy style. She effortlessly moved through poses to create movement and project attitude in the images.
Niamh heroically got soaked to the skin without complaint on a cold, rainy day for this absolutely amazing shot.
And of course our photographer, Tony Webster a.k.a. BigBadLlama. Framing the shots against the graffiti of an urban underpass, Tony wove the colours and textures of the clothing and the setting together brilliantly.
He used the movement of the clothes and the rainy weather conditions to fantastic effect and I loved how he worked the atmospheric light in the setting.
Thanks a million to Alyson McElroy and the folks at NVTV for interviewing me for their Gaining Grounds show. It was an amazing experience and not half as scary as I had feared!
Leonora was recently asked to design a scarf inspired by the artist Sean Scully's work for sale during the summer exhibition at the NGI. The first print run was a sellout and other designs are now available from the gallery shop.
It was also very exciting to have the butterfly scarf featured in the shop window alongside other Irish makers and designers.
Was shocked and delighted to accept the Eleanor de la Branchardiere Award for innovation in lace at the RDS National Craft Awards!
It was an honour to have my headpiece exhibited in the first place among beautiful pieces from other craftspeople.
The exhibition continued throughout the Dublin Horse Show.
We were so excited to take part in the fabulous night of fashion at Lissan House, Cookstown, in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. The stylish evening took place on 3rd October 2014.
Here's a pic from the night showing Leonora's headpieces worn with Claire's Formal Dresses. For those who haven't been to Lissan House, it's well worth a visit.