Meet Crimson Rose O'Shea

Meet Crimson Rose O'Shea

Meet Crimson Rose O'Shea

We talk to Crimson Rose O'Shea, founder of Crimson Rose, about what inspires her and some of the key elements behind her womenswear collections.

Tell us about your love of colour.

Colour has always been an important element of my work. It is unquestionably a distinctive part of my designer DNA.

My interest in colourful clothing dates back to my childhood. My mum has always a big inspiration to me in terms of colour. She has a lot of colour in her wardrobe and has worn bright colours for as long as I can remember. When people wear bright colours, it has a cheery effect on the people that surround them. I have always been intrigued by the psychology of colour and the ability of colour to stimulate different emotions in people.

Where I grew up was also very inspiring in terms of colour. Moseley Village in Birmingham is a creative community with a vibrant music scene and bohemian vibe.  The summer folk and jazz festivals fill the village with crowds of people wearing colourful festival clothing. They were people who approached fashion in a very natural way.

My graduate collection at Central Saint Martins featured a spectrum of different colours, but it wasn’t until my MA in Textile Design at the Royal College of Art that I began to explore colour in a more scientific way. I spent hours in the print and dye room making my own bespoke colours.

At the graduate show it was great to be recognised for my use of colour by being awarded the Colour Prize by Althea McNish, the highly esteemed and pioneering textile designer, who was herself renowned for her use of colour.

Crimson Rose print design in pink, purple, orange and black on silk fabric.

One of the reasons why I set up Crimson Rose was because I felt there was a gap in the market for colourful, contemporary printed womenswear.

Our first collection called ‘Island Dreams’ features prints that are vibrant and colourful. I hope to bring a sense optimism and escapism with the collection. To lift people’s spirits and provide people with exciting wardrobe options for their holidays.

Crimson Rose 100% cotton drill cropped jacket with coordinating bucket hat and culottes in bright orange and blue floral print design.

 How do you use drawing in your work?

I find photographs helpful to capture a mood, atmosphere and colour, but it is through drawing that I record details that I can develop into my own original print designs to use in collections.

Drawing is integral to my creative process and it always starts with the sketchbooks that I keep on my travels. On a trip I draw whatever catches my eye, but I never fail to be inspired by nature and flowers.

Illustration by Crimson Rose O'Shea of a dream catcher from one of her Ibiza sketchbooks.

Once I have a drawing that I am happy with I then start to develop print designs with it. This might be by repeating the sketch, combining it with other drawings or developing it further back in my studio. I work both by hand and digitally.

I believe my style of drawing gives my designs a distinctive handwriting. My designs tend to organic, bold and graphic. I find print design fascinating because for me it is a form of storytelling.

Illustration of model wearing Crimson Rose Tshirt design with photograph of Ibiza in the background with a pink filter.

What is it about travel that inspires you so much and acts as a starting point for your collections?

I have always loved travel because it is such a great way to experience new things. I am curious about the world around me and love learning about the culture and traditions of the places that I visit. Travel never fails to give me a wealth of creative inspiration. I count myself lucky to have been able to travel to some amazing places in recent years for work and for pleasure.

On a typical trip I will take photographs, make notes and keep sketchbooks. This material forms my personal library, a valuable resource in terms of colour, material and shape inspiration for my collections.

Crimson Rose illustration of the Egg sculpture in San Antonio Ibiza.

Due to the pandemic situation and being unable to travel the past year I have found myself delving into my own archive of research and resource material from  previous trips. This has provided me with a wonderful form of inspiration and escapism during these challenging times.

Our ‘Island Dreams’ collection is an ode to blissed out summers spent in the Mediterranean. It is inspired by Ibizan sunsets, flora and intense turquoise seas. Places where you explore by day and party by night.

To accompany the collection, we have created a series of Spotify playlists. We plan to gradually introduce more lifestyle aspects to the brand because for me travel is a multi-sensory experience and I want to reflect this in our collections and the products that we offer our customers.

Later this year we will be releasing a new series of exclusive designs called ‘Greetings from’. This will be a collection of silk scarfs available to buy framed. Each unique design is a silk postcard from an inspirational place that I have travelled to.

A collage of a Crimson Rose Island Dreams swing ticket with the sea behind.

The ‘Island Dreams’ collection is heavily inspired by the Mediterranean, in particularly Ibiza. What is it about the island that you love?

Ibiza is a really inspirational place to me because of everything it has to offer. I have found it to be a welcoming place that has a very creative community. As well as the music and night life, I think it has incredible beaches, beautiful nature walks and great organic food.

I really wanted the Crimson Rose ‘Island Dreams’ collection to capture the energy, the freedom, the fun.

All images © Crimson Rose.