I first discovered award-winning Irish designer and dapper dandy Rory Hutton while producing a fashion magazine for Irish people in London. At the time, Rory was developing a name for himself in the Irish fashion industry with his eclectic range of linen bow ties depicting tiny insects. He seemed to have leapt off the pages of an Edwardian novel; in interviews, he spoke of his antique-filled office resembling a drawing room and his love of silver flatware, antique linen and china. He had created a world or 'period drama' for himself in which to inhabit, and to me, this seemed wildly romantic and eccentric for someone so young.
As a child, Rory looked up to his grandfather, who wore bow ties all the time. ‘I remember seeing an old black and white picture of my grandfather wearing a bow tie; this began my fascination with men’s formal dress.’ Rory is now based in Glasgow and his menswear repertoire extends to silk bow ties, pocket squares and socks, all inspired by his imaginary travels across Asia, with features including Bonsai plants and cheese plant leaf. He recently won a Breakthrough Award in the Design category for Ion Magazine, Scotland's largest lifestyle magazine, and has been shortlisted for 'Great British Creative Industries Entrepreneur of the year.' Below, Rory offers a gentleman's insight into the subjects that remain close to his 'Edwardian' heart.
As a student I had lots of brightly coloured socks that I would mismatch, so I'd often wear a yellow and pink sock at the same time. When I was an intern at Vivienne Westwood in 2008, I was photographed in the street style section of The London Paper, which no longer exists, and they said something like 'Rory wears odd socks. Is this the done thing among Westwood's minions?', which still makes me laugh. Now I would never wear odd socks but this period stands out in my memory.
On personal style:
There’s a Vogue now for quite short, baggy trousers. I quite often wear my socks with Stan Smiths. I like that kind of casual thing. I have a really nice pair of patent shoes in a rich purple for a more formal look. I’ve also started wearing some of the pocket-squares as neckerchiefs. I really like old brogues… they’re old hat at the moment but I really like old, battered ones.
Menswear is a really nice niche. Womenswear is oversaturated, I don’t need to add to it. I would like to do it eventually but I would need to bring a freshness to it. I have also found that I sell a lot to women already, especially in boutiques in Asia, where I’m stocked. The market is almost divided 50/50. I tend to get a lot of girls who want to wear them there, but less so over here.
I always thought I’d love to be a children’s book illustrator, or work in a museum for the rest of my life. I like looking at the past and I love old stories. My mum was telling me a story the other day about how my great grandmother was at Dublin Zoo and a giraffe bent over the barrier and picked off her hat and ran away. I thought this was really charming and so Irish. I was like ‘Wow, I totally want to go illustrate that.’
On inspiration & interiors:
I tend to look at interiors a lot for inspiration as opposed to fashion designers. Generally, the only time I come across a designer I like on Instagram is if they follow me or like my photos. Some people say you should be looking at your competitors all the time but I think not because it stifles your own creativity. I’d rather do my own thing and get on with it and not be thinking too much about what anyone else is doing. I subscribe to The World of Interiors as they are really good for doing things like mood-boards with textures and colours, which I love.
I love the early 20th century and I love the 1920s. I also really love 18th century stuff, like Marie Antoinette. I based my degree collection on Oscar Wilde’s love letters – he is a huge inspiration for me. I am also fascinated by Irish country houses. I went to Russborough House last year. My favourite blog is The Irish Aesthete. He travels around Ireland and goes to all these country houses, ones that are in ruins and all kinds of conditions, no windows. He photographs them, does a little research on them and writes about the history of the houses. Lots of the time, they’re derelict but so beautiful.
On treasured possessions:
I have a set of Irish Georgian silver spoons I inherited when I was sixteen. I sometimes use them when I have friends over for tea and they make me feel like a lord. It is important as a fashion designer to understand the transformative power of possessions. I also store my books in two 1930s glass front bookcases and keep all my threads in battered vintage tins.
On a childhood in Carlow:
I grew up in Carlow where I spent a lot of time in my grand-parents house in the countryside. I loved playing and helping out in the gardens. My first bow tie collection was inspired by the creepy crawlies I was familiar with there. My grandparents are now dead but I grow a lot of the same plants in my garden and this reminds me of my happy childhood in Carlow.
Shop Rory Hutton's socks here and follow him on Instagram @roryhuttonldn