Grafton Academy’s Colin Atkinson on the Kilkenny Fashion Week Scholarship

Grafton Academy’s Colin Atkinson on the Kilkenny Fashion Week Scholarship

For the last 3 years The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design alongside Kilkenny Fashion Week has given one budding fashion designer the opportunity to win the Kilkenny Fashion Week Student Scholarship. The Scholarship competition is decided by a panel of influential Irish fashion personalities that includes Grafton Academy Head Tutor Colin Atkinson. We caught up with Colin ahead of scholarship judging day for a quick chat about the scholarship and Grafton Academy.

Colin, you’re one of the judges for the Kilkenny fashion Week scholarship competition, how did the scholarship come about and what will you be looking for in a winning entry

The Kilkenny fashion week scholarship competition came about as Alma Feeley who handles the PR for Kilkenny fashion week approached the Grafton Academy to see if the college would be interested in sponsoring a competition in conjunction with KK fashion week. This is our 3rd year being involved and the competition is going from strength to strength. As one of the judges, we are looking for creativity, clever use of existing garments good design features, good sewing and finishing techniques.

Grafton Academy has a long history of producing some of the best designers in Ireland like Paul Costelleo and Louise Kennedy are there any young designers you’ve worked with who you think can follow in their footsteps.


Catherine Mc Evoy graduated this year and is now working for Alexander McQueen Couture; she’s definitely one to watch.

Catherin McEvoy

Catherin McEvoy


Why study fashion design at The Grafton Academy?

Why not! At The Grafton Academy there is individual tuition from the tutors and the student gets to work at his or her own pace. The student leaves Grafton Academy, with a great skills base in design development, pattern making, sewing and finishing. Basically the graduating student can design and make the pattern, cut out and sew up any type of garment. When the students go on internships to London/Paris the companies are often pleasantly surprised with how much our students can do compared to other interns.

Do you need to leave Ireland to forge a career in fashion?

You don’t necessarily need to leave the country to forge a career in fashion as there are many of our graduates working in Ireland as designers/pattern cutters. Other graduates have set up their own label, like Umit Kutluk, Sean Byrne, and Emma Manley

How has the fashion industry changed in the last 10 years?

In the last 10 years the Internet has changed the fashion business, with online sales becoming a huge part of fashions turnover. Social media has made access much easier to design and designers work.
Global brands have taken an interest in environment concerns, with an interest in recycling and up styling of old garments/ fabrics.
Also new fabrics in the last 10 years have been developed and are now used in mainstream fashion like never before.

For more information on Kilkenny Fashion Week and the Kilkenny Fashion Week Scholarship at The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design

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