Technically an accessories designer, Úna Burke doesn’t like her work to be categorised within fashion’s conventional terms. Using traditional leather-working techniques to create structured garments, she sees each of her creations as a wearable work of art, designed to be taken apart and worn as separate statement pieces for areas like the neck, shoulders, legs and arms.
Originally from the west of Ireland, Burke completed a BA in Fashion Design at Limerick School of Art and Design, and then worked with such fashion industry luminaries as Philip Treacy and Burberry. She then went on to complete an MA in Fashion Artefact at the London College of Fashion, for which her graduate collection RE.TREAT won an Off Catwalk Award for Design in 2009. Since then, Burke has won a further number of awards and her work has featured in major fashion publications worldwide.
Burke was recently approached by JOYCE to create an online exclusive capsule collection – a project which she was more than happy to get involved with. “Naturally I was very excited,” she explains in her soft, modest tones. “It’s such an iconic shop, and the other designers who are also creating capsule collections are incredible as well. JOYCE have supported me from the very beginning – they’ve also had big displays of my work within the store. It’s brought me a lot of attention in Hong Kong and in Asia as a whole, which is fantastic.”
Taking inspiration from medieval suits of armour, the leather pieces are twisted and bound together to resemble the armour’s metal plates. “I’m interested in mechanical things, so I like armour a lot. I’m intrigued at how medieval armour in particular can be so intricate and so beautiful, but there’s irony in the damage it does and the purpose it’s for. It’s that idea of something having two sides – positive and negative.”
For the JOYCE capsule collection, Burke was required to create pieces based around her signature style. But there are several differences between this new collection and her previous work. “I’ve created colour combinations that are specific to JOYCE which aren’t available elsewhere. I’ve also amended previous patterns that were really popular and I’ve made them distinct to JOYCE’s online shop so these won’t be done again for a while. It’s nice to have something completely unique for the JOYCE customers.”