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Talia Byre is collecting her heritage

Recent graduate Talia Byre talks intimate details about realising her purpose and how to get through the "4 am on the kitchen floor" moments.

“The day I got my MA results, I cleared out my locker, and my sister and I went on an empty train-ride home,” remembers Talia Byre of the moment she learned about the lockdown a week after the fashion show in mid-March. The MA Fashion Womenswear graduate from Central Saint Martins belonged to the last class to present the final collection to a physically present audience of professionals, press, family, and friends. But what started as a trip on an empty train in retrospective represents a turning point for reflection and the start of a more significant journey on identity, heritage, and family.

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Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lineup

 “I did quite a lot of family research. There is such a rich history of womenswear that every generation passed down, which is such an inspiration.”

Talia Byre comes from a family of tailors and ladieswear shop owners from Liverpool, who later even extended the business further North. She grew up surrounded by elegant women, drapers, and craftsmen. Consequently, choosing to become a designer and study BA Fashion Design at CSM imitated an implicitness. “No one told me: ‘You can’t do that; you have to go and become a doctor,'” she recalls. Eventually, after spending a year as a graduate trainee at Alexander McQueen, Byre found she was not done yet and returned to university to do her MA in Womenswear. “I just didn’t know my style well enough to contribute to the team. Therefore, I really appreciated the master for I could explore why I was drawn to certain things.”

Indeed, the freedom to delve into her own style during the masters advanced Byre’s pursuit to pinpoint her identity, personally and professionally. “I did quite a lot of family research. There is such a rich history of womenswear that every generation passed down, which is such an inspiration.” By collecting the knowledge from old family members and family friends, and analysing the passed down clothes from her great-great-grandma, the young designer could explore her origin and discover the purpose she had been trying to track down. Byre says, “Understanding that this is my history and ultimately, what makes me tick, made me realise my heritage and that I shouldn’t take it for granted. I shouldn’t be shy about it!”

Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook

“I have to keep the tradition of the family going. As I’m continuing with that, I will put on the family name. It’s nice to know the next generation takes it on.”

Unsurprisingly, Talia Byre designed her final collection, The Feral Women of the Inish Fee, to be passed down through generations while the fabrics and silhouettes simultaneously breathe the past decades’ spirit. The centrepieces of inspiration were three of her great-grandmother’s skirts, which she paired with colours and materials stemming from charity shops. Carrying on her ambition to sustain local trade, Byre visited mills from around her hometown and very instinctively selected the materials for her graduation collection. Subsequently, the sourced cloth led Byre to become more involved with knitwear. “I approached the knitwear as if it was woven. I was a bit eclectic in my sourcing; thus, I repurposed all the knits that I found from various wardrobes of different people.”

Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic interfered with plans and, devastatingly, destroyed the lives of many. Byre speaks very frankly about the personal consequences of COVID-19, “The pandemic hit my family really hard. We lost a lot of family members.” The lockdown offered her the necessary time and space to be with her family and reflect. Deliberating the freshly finished master, her aspirations, and the way she would want to take from now on, she saw her plans for the future take form. “I have to keep the tradition of the family going. As I’m continuing with that, I will put on the family name. It’s nice to know the next generation takes it on,” she says with strength in her voice. “It was a big thinking time for me.”

Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook

“Find something that keeps you going, take a deep breath, and then keep on going!”

Although a future outlook is on the verge of impossible, Byre has a clear vision. After the lockdown was lifted, she got back on the train to London to continue creating a small-scaled collection embroidered with personal values and heritage. “It is a bit of a hybrid of my own work and the family name. The collection will be made of classical shapes while I am taking an effort to combine the traditional cuts with my work.” Repurposing old fabrics and materials, thereby supporting local mills and sustaining local trade, remains a core characteristic of every garment she sews. By doing that, Byre also relies on the same suppliers her father employed. “It has come full circle.” For now, she focuses on creating a space to realise her vision. “I heard so much about my family’s shops and the atmosphere they had, including the community around it. That would be my biggest dream.”

Reflecting on her time doing the MA Fashion Womenswear, Talia Byre relives the mornings at 4 am when she was sitting on the kitchen floor, desperately wondering how to pull the workload off. Asked for the advice she would give to students being in the same situation, Byre responds, “Find something that keeps you going, take a deep breath, and then keep on going!” The day after the interview, Talia writes via email whether we could change her surname Lipkin-Connor to Byre. All her work going forward will be under this name. It is the same name her family’s shop was under. Despite everything, Talia Byre has found her reason to keep on going and fulfilling her biggest dream.

Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Design Development
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre is collecting her heritage
Talia Byre, Lookbook