Meet The Designers

MEET THE DESIGNERS | AOIFE MCNAMARA

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Aoife McNamara.

Visit aoifemcnamara.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am a Limerick School of Art and Design graduate and hold a BA Honors Degree in Fashion Design. My knowledge and background spans interning with Marc Jacobs, working with a Vogue stylist in Paris, supplying fashion to noted celebrities such as Vogue Williams, Roz Purcell, Suzanne Jackson, and working practically with Irish companies in uniform design and Capsule collections. I have also won Irish Country Magazine Fashion designer of the year 2019 and nominated in the top 5 for Gossies Fashion Designer of the year 2019.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining move in my career would have to be, moving to Paris straight after college by myself with no French, no job, and a dream to pursue a career in the fashion industry. I had previously been in NYC working, but Paris was a whole other level—learning the true detail to design and how cutthroat the real fashion industry is. Working many different jobs from styling to couture—I think throwing yourself in the deep end straight after college is the best way to learn and grow as a young designer.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Becoming a 100% ethical brand is what I want AOIFE Ireland to grow into. As a young up-and-coming designer, it is vital to have a voice in what I create and how I choose to represent my line. For me, that is reducing my carbon footprint anywhere we can—keeping my production in Ireland and choosing sustainable materials. We are not perfect, but we strive to achieve a brand that is known globally for its ethical morals.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

I wanted to keep my brand name very simple, clear and 100% Irish—choosing AOIFE Ireland just made sense.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Copenhagen Stylist Emili Sindlev. Her style is like no other. She is 100% my muse, from her colour palette to how she styles her clothes. It would be a dream to collaborate with her on an AOIFE line.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

A lot of different aspects inspire my creative process—the main one being Ireland and its beautiful sunsets. My current SS20 collection is called ‘She’s A Dreamer.’ I collaborated with Irish woolen mill John Hanly to create my Irish wool, which represents our beautiful skyline.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My phone, Filofax and a pocket sketchbook.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT WE DIDN’T ASK.

I am obsessed with training, whether it’s for a triathlon or first thing in the morning. I feel it clears my head and helps me work a lot more productive for the day.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AIDEEN BODKIN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Aideen Bodkin.

Visit aideenbodkin.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

The Aideen Bodkin label was established in 1999 to offer Irish women timeless, tailored contemporary style with a vintage twist. It was a career that chose me from a young age, having been influenced by the glamour of classic Hollywood films that I watched as a child with my mother and grandmother.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

As a relatively new designer on the Irish market, I was chosen to design an outfit for the then Irish President Mary McAleese for her inauguration for her second term. The attention this outfit received from the public and media gave the label a huge boost, and the brand gained a loyal following.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would like to see the brand gain a following in other markets, showing that Irish design can sit alongside and complement international labels.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name is my given name, and the surname “Bodkin” coincidentally is a blunt needle used by tailors for sewing leather.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to collaborate with an Irish weaving company to reintroduce Irish handcrafts in a contemporary way to a worldwide audience.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is a fantastic platform that presents the best of Irish design to a worldwide audience.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

A sense of place is part of the fabric of being an Irish person and is key to our culture. Irish designers understand the sense of occasion and family that is at the heart of many of our celebrations. We design clothes to suit the uniqueness of our culture and the several occasions that we celebrate.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A great dress that can be worn to an event or dressed down for everyday wear.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Books, family, and friends.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | NIKI COLLIER

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Niki Collier.

Visit designireland.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Niki Collier is a genuine story of modern Ireland. Twenty years ago, I arrived from Bulgaria to complete a doctorate. Today, my handmade designs and art pieces have been appreciated as part of the Irish creative movement.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been many defining moments in my career including being the first Irish felt designer to be sold at the British Museum Shop and the first felt designer to be sold in Kilkenny Design.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To collaborate with film, music and fashion houses, while keeping my boutique stockists and developing the workshop as a destination for curious folk looking to enjoy a unique studio experience.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

A yearning to tell authentic stories through products that capture my passion for heritage, materials and origin—such as my Wild accessory range, the first truly Irish felt tweed.

 


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My name. I am a small studio with occasional support for exhibitions and big orders who was never interested in having any notions.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Katniss Everdeen the Mockingjay. She’s a character with a purpose and a voice, who never fails to be both human and hero—even when faced with adversity. 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to make a hugging scarf for Oprah—the woman known for giving best hugs—and also be on the list of go-to craftspeople for director Peter Jackson.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish showcases our work with grace and love and inspires designers to create authentic pieces with strong stories.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

The list is long! Stephen Colbert’s wife, Evelyn McGee-Colbert and all of the Emmas: Stone, Watson and Thompson. Also, Christy Turlington, Rhianna, Meghan Markle, and Michelle Obama.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

My process is simple. It starts with something that I see as a problem, and I look for ways to solve it. This need transpires into a collection that people wear or in sculptural pieces that I share with folk with a passion for visual interpretation of our world. Initially, I start with complex ideas and an array of materials. During the process, I learn and simplify the concept and the elements so that the message is powerful, and the piece is elegant and sophisticated.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

The Irish culture, community and textile heritage have made me who I am today. I collaborate with local sheep and alpaca farms, developing pieces that are truly Irish. Ireland informs everything—from my first truly Irish felt, to my interpretation of an Aran sweater.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Coats and hats.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Hope, my family and textiles.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Layering because it allows you to hide and emphasize different areas of the body. For example, a piece of luxury textile could be used as a coat, wrap, dress, top, trousers, skirt, or scarf.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I work with one hand as I have nerve damage from birth, which has influenced all my designs and narratives. All my pieces are easy to put on, and they are very playful, yielding to the transformation of function and interpretation of purpose, but never making you faff around. Textile is my voice and identity—it enables me to connect with people around the world.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | PETER O’BRIEN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Peter O’Brien.

Visit peterobriendesign.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in London to Irish parents but moved back to Ireland as a child. I seem to have spent my entire childhood with a pencil in my hand (invariably drawing grand ladies in ballgowns). At 19 I moved to London and worked in window display—now called visual merchandising. Prompted by a meeting with a fashion journalist I applied for a place a Saint Martin’s School of Art. I graduated with a degree in fashion design and subsequently did a year on an exchange program with Parsons in New York doing fashion illustration.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Probably my first week working as a lowly assistant in the couture studio at Dior in Paris. There was a WWD preview, and I found myself on the Pont Alexandre III bridge with two models in evening gowns, a photographer, various hair & make-up people, Andre Leon Talley and me! I felt like Kay Thompson in “Funny Face.” I kept pinching myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

That as many women as possible get to wear my clothes and get pleasure from wearing them. 

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Quiet drama. I love making impact with a whisper. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My name.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I like to design for real women.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

To design the costumes for a production of Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” that would be directed by Marianne Elliott and starring Laura Linney as Desiree and Olympia Dukakis as Madame Armfeldt.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Getting the message out there about Irish design can only be a positive thing.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

As many people as possible! 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I draw and draw and draw and draw…and procrastinate! The starting point is almost invariably a piece of fabric that inspires me. I don’t do anecdotal clothing; I never ‘tell stories’ about kidnapped princesses or imaginary journeys. I design very instinctively, informed I guess by a lifetime of being a culture vulture.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I think anyone who does creative work will acknowledge that a sense of place deeply, if not always consciously, informs the design process. I lived outside of Ireland for 35 years, so my influences cannot be anything other than a sum of the many lives I have lived. I work from the gut, so in a sense, the concrete influences of being Irish or living in Ireland are almost impossible for me to articulate. I fear I’m not much given to navel-gazing—I just do it.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Women seem to love our coats, and I’ve built up a loyal following of ‘collectors.’

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My books, Steven Sondheim’s music, and Serge Lutens’ Iris Silver Mist Eau de Parfum from Le Palais Royale in Paris.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Simplify!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I hate electric guitars.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AISLING DUFFY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Aisling Duffy.

Visit aislingduffy.co.uk for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I grew up in Dublin. I wanted nothing more than to attend art college; the day I received my acceptance letter to the National College of Art & Design, I cried. I spent four years at Ncad where I specialized in printed textiles. After graduation, I was accepted to the Edinburgh College of Art, where I spent two years developing my design style. I graduated with a master’s with distinction in textiles. I moved to London and worked as a Print Designer for a small studio. When the studio closed down, I decided to be brave and start my printed fashion label!

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

If I had to pick one moment, it would be seeing my designs on the runway at The Rose of Tralee International Festival in August 2019. I worked tirelessly within a limited time frame to produce three catwalk looks. Each look explored Irish identity through print and hand-embellishment. I felt so proud of what I have managed to achieve and incredibly thankful to be given such a huge opportunity to showcase my work.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition for my brand would be to produce fully sustainable, ethical, and unique collections with instant brand recognition and to be worn by musicians on stage and seen in music videos.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Print, hand-embellishment, personal exploration and ethics.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It’s my name—Aisling Duffy. Given my label and designs are so much about personal exploration, it seems natural to hold onto my name. Plus, ‘Aisling’ is such an Irish name, and it is fun having always to tell everyone how to pronounce it all the time!

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I have so many! I am mainly drawn to people’s journeys, artistic talent, and drive to change the world for the better.

I would love to dress Jonathan Van Ness, Billie Eilish, or Charli XCX, but equally, I find the personal journeys of the people around me, such as my grandmothers, my mother, and my friends so inspirational.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

A pop-up or window display for Brown Thomas; stage costumes for Charli XCX, Billie Eilish, or Grimes; or a fashion collaboration with Stella McCartney (leading the way for ethical fashion), or Simone Rocha (one of my favourite designers).

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Being an Irish designer based away from Ireland, I have found the WearingIrish movement has helped me understand that I am an Irish designer regardless of my location. This insight has given me strength and clarity when I have struggled with how to define myself.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want to think that Irish design could be worn globally. I would love to see more designers promoting themselves as Irish designers when they show at London Fashion Week.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I generally begin by making collages and artwork using imagery related to the theme of the collection. I then create fabric prints using my artwork. I develop pattern cuts and styles for my fashion collection, mainly from my collection of vintage items. I hand make and hand embellish all my collections at my London studio. It is a genuinely immersive and inspiring process for me, and I hope I never lose that element from my work.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I grew up in the suburbs of Dublin near the coast. This mixture of urban and nature has always played an influential role in the imagery I use for my collection. I love the contrast between the beauty of nature but also the beauty of urban life—graffiti, derelict buildings, windows, and reflections.

My family, their Irish accents, Irish sayings, their homes, and stories, all of which are uniquely Irish, are all part of my inspiration, and I draw from this constantly when creating new work.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

This question has always inspired my work. My recent collections have explored Irish identity through print and imagery. I utilize a lot of Irish symbols, native animals, and the Irish language.

Living away from home, you start to question your sense of self. But in a way, I feel even more Irish now. When I introduce myself to others, I say, “I am an Irish designer based in London,” so I believe my sense of being Irish is vital to me and my work.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item is probably a transparent oversized vest I created in 2018. It is covered in velvet patches, sequins, vintage buttons, and reclaimed gems. It took days to create. It isn’t for sale, but it is so popular that I allow it to be used in photoshoots and styling edits—as long as those using the vest guarantee to take good care of it!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Vintage finds, the freedom to create, and family.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Always wear whatever you want regardless of trend. I’m rarely seen without a beanie or a load of jewellery, and I’m nearly always wearing vintage or thrifted finds. 

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I am incredibly clumsy, and I am a proud member of the left-handed club!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | TRIONA SPELLMAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Triona Spellman.

Visit darcybow.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I grew up in Gorey, Co. Wexford and while I travelled all over the world and lived in London when I decided to settle down with my husband, we returned to Gorey. I am still cabin crew with a large international airline, so I get to satisfy my passion for travel and keep an eye on fashion trends across the world.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I made my goddaughter a dress for her first birthday because I just couldn’t find “the dress.” She wore it for her party and I received so many compliments and requests that I knew there was an opportunity to turn this into my dream job. Now, I am being stocked by The Tot in the United States.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would love to see a return to people buying quality clothing that has been designed to be worn and worn again—the clothes we wear are part and parcel of our childhood reminiscences. I want to see Darcybow become part of childhood memories for generations to come.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Inspired by timeless, classic tailoring with a touch of whimsy, each piece is lovingly made by hand anddesigned for your child’s comfortwhile never relinquishing on style. It is clothing intended to become her favourite and treasured always.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

When it came to the name I knew it would incorporate “bows” in some way—I have been obsessed with them since I was a child. My married name is Darcy, so I decided to combine the two.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Princess Charlotte. This little girl is breaking perceptions of what a princess should be—fun and fearless with boundless energy. She seems to delight in the world around her.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Emilia Wickstead—I love everything she designs as they are timeless, sophisticated and unique.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is showcasing the incredible talent and the diversity of styles that we have in this country. For so long we thought of Irish design as tweed and wool, but to see what designers are now doing with these incredible materials, it sparks our imaginations and reminds us what a wealth of culture and style we have to inspire us.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

As a child, I was obsessed with clothes, especially dresses. I was very particular about colours, how it felt when I wore it, how the cuff closed, and where the ribbons were placed. I keep all these details in mind when I am designing for kids. For me, the fabric is critical—you need to feel the quality just by touching it.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I love that the Irish people still “get their glad rags on.” We choose to step out of our everyday wear for something special when we wish to mark an occasion; what we wear is intrinsically linked to those special events. That is what Darcybow is all about, creating something beautiful and unique for that extraordinary occasion.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Darcybow Capes—they encapsulate my design values, timeless, elegant style in sumptuous fabrics that can be enjoyed across seasons. Our capes tend to sell out as people love their versatility.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My boys, my phone and a decent cup of tea.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Love what you wear! Keep it simple with good tailoring, great fabrics and be comfortable.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I am a great listener and I LOVE to hear people’s stories—there is nothing more enjoyable than meeting new people (preferably over a strong cup of tea).


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KAREN YATES

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Karen and Ellen Yates.

Visit tayloryates.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Karen Yates: I worked for Jaeger, a company that made clothes for M&S and then, in the family design & print business before founding Taylor Yates.

Ellen Yates: I’m still at university in Manchester. I return in September to complete my degree in Fashion Business Management, after a placement year working full-time at Taylor Yates.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Karen: That’s a hard one to answer! Eighteen months after launch, we were invited by the British Fashion Council to London Fashion Week, which was amazing. We have had tremendous support from our friends and family; in the beginning, most of our sales were to people we knew. When we received our first online order from America—from someone we didn’t know—it was a true “wow” moment.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Karen: To be a British luxury brand, founded with a beautiful purpose—authentic, socially conscious, and sustainably focused.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Karen: To change lives and protect the planet by making beautiful things for people to love.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Karen: It is the combination of my maiden name and married name. Also, Ellen’s full name is Ellen Taylor Yates, so the name serves as a tribute to the strong women that surrounded me growing up.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Karen: Can we have two?! Emma Watson and Helen Mirren are our dream muses. We love how active they are in advocating for equality for women. They both live an “attitude, not age” philosophy, and we love both of their styles.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Karen: We love what Margaret has achieved. Irish designers and brands are receiving valid recognition from the WearingIrish movement, and it allows brands to expand their audience in countries they might not otherwise have been able to reach.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Karen: Everyone!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Karen: We typically start with the shape. Since leather is soft, it enables us to create forms not often possible with standard leather. We love the development process. Colour also plays an important role. We have long debates about whether a shape or style will work in a specific colour. Sampling can be expensive, and as a small business, we sometimes have to go with our gut feel and trust our customers will like our pick!

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Karen: Our colour palette takes inspiration from Ireland’s stunning north coast, where we live. It is hard not to be influenced by the beauty of the country. The sea, the sky, and the land continually transform with the weather.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Karen: Ireland is all about being warm, friendly, and approachable; the Irish can be quite understated, too.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Karen: The Tilly bag in petrol has been our most popular style, but the new Agnes bag in plum is becoming quite desirable among our customers.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Karen: Use bronzer as eyeshadow and of course, add a Taylor Yates bag to your outfit.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

Karen: Taylor Yates is a business with a beautiful purpose. We want to build a company that gives back and supports young women from a young age. Currently, we are helping a group of local girls to launch their own business.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | HEIDI HIGGINS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Heidi Higgins. 

Visit heidihiggins.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

When I finished secondary school, I took a year out to concentrate on my portfolio for art college. The following year I started studying at the National College of Art and Design, where I specialized in Fashion Design. When I was in college, I spent a summer in New York and worked in Fitzpatrick Hotel at the reception desk and did an internship with Daryl Kerrigan. In 2009 I set up my label, and in 2010, I opened my flagship store in my home town of Portlaoise, Co. Laois. This year marks my tenth year in business!

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Opening my store as it gave me the shop window to showcase my designs and professional retail space to meet my customers. I have my design studio upstairs from my boutique too, which is great to have the whole business all under one roof.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Elegance with a twist!

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Luckily, it’s my name!


WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I have always worn Irish design as it’s unique and I know how much work goes into making them, so I think it is great to see the #wearingirish movement helping shine a light on Irish brands!

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Since I have started selling online, we have customers from all over the world who have no connection to Ireland but love the brand. I find these customers exciting as they just came across my collection and saw what they liked and of course we have great support from the Irish abroad too!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

As I have my store, I am very aware of what my customers are looking for, so that is always a crucial starting point when designing. I travel to Premier Vision in Paris twice a year, which is the largest fabric fair to source fabrics and meet my suppliers. Travel is an excellent source of inspiration and takes you out of the day to day running a business, so your creativity can come to life. I work mostly on the mannequin and draping the designs I want as I adore working with beautiful fabrics.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Although I enjoyed my time in New York when I was a student, I have never had a desire to work anywhere else but Ireland. I love to travel and bring ideas home with me, but I am very proud to have my store in Ireland and still have an international brand that sells to customers worldwide! Irish ladies have a great sense of style and love colour, which is a big part of my collections!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My Daphne coat; it’s a classic HH design that I have recreated many times as it’s so timeless and elegant. An investment coat is a must in Ireland!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Besides my family and friends: my phone, my shoe collection, and my Mini car!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Add a pop of colour either in the garment you choose or through your accessories—it will uplift your mood and help you put your best foot forward!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LOU BRENNAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Lou Brennan.

Visit loubrennan.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in London to Irish parents from Co. Mayo, and I was the first graduate on the MA programme in Fashion from NCAD, Dublin over 20 years ago. I went on to work as the textile manager for John Rocha before returning to London to establish my studio.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

My friend Seta Niland was the stylist for Alexander McQueen and fashion editor for The Face magazine, and she introduced me to Lee after I finished my first degree. I started producing textiles and catwalk pieces for him and will never forget seeing my first design for him in The Observer Life magazine.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I wish to create a brand of beautiful textiles with a strong Irish DNA, a recognizable ‘Lou Brennan’ handwriting and with a strong international appeal.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

My love of Irish textiles is at the heart of my collections, and the quote from a recent Irish Times article about my new range perfectly described the brand— “Brennan’s fusion of romance and heritage is a winning combination.”


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

I decided to use my name for my brand with “Brennan” having a strong Irish identity and history.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would be an amalgamation of strong, beautiful, creative women not afraid to carve out their path, such as Maud Gonne, Georgia O’Keeffe, Eve Arnold—women with great personal style.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I am particularly inspired by the collaborations that Dior’s artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, is forging with numerous creative practitioners, with an emphasis on handicraft and tradition, merging new and old-world techniques. Closer to home, I would love to collaborate with a woolen or linen mill to produce a range of embroidered/printed scarves.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement has galvanised so many Irish designers to promote their businesses on a broader international stage. The spotlight that is being shone on those participating makes me so proud to see the wealth of talent and creativity in Ireland today.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I have created my business and this first collection of luxury scarves to appeal to women who seek out something special in their wardrobe. The inspiration behind my collection, that of the story of Irish textiles has a universal appeal as our fabrics have been cherished through the centuries.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

For this first collection, I was inspired by the iconic Galway shawls, many with paisley designs and lace borders. I hand drew motifs from my vintage Carrickmacross wedding veil and repeated and arranged the motifs to echo the patterns in the shawls.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I live in Mayo, in a boathouse, on the edge of Lough Conn surrounded by nature and space to create, so my surroundings continuously inspire me. Once there were lace schools and linen mills all around and fortunately, one of Ireland’s last working woolen mills, founded in 1892, is nearby.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

As the daughter of emigrants to London in the 1950s, my sense of being Irish is exceptionally acute. It was said that the spirit of loss was magnified, which is why I’m so drawn to the history and the culture of Ireland. Like the playwright Martin McDonagh, it’s the Irish stories that I’m more qualified to tell.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The “Kathleen” Irish lace print scarf in magenta and port wine, so named after my mother, who gave me my vintage Carrickmacross wedding veil that inspired this design.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Other than my family, which are everything to me, I love communicating with people and learning, so my iPad is never far away. I paint, so my art materials are vital as well as my sewing machine.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Naturally, I would have to say one of my scarves whether it’s one of the generously proportioned cashmere blended styles or a silk twill square tied in a bow with a mother of pearl scarf ring.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

My life as a freelance textile designer allowed me to travel the world as my husband is a musician, attending the Grammys twice and designing stage clothes for Peter Gabriel’s “UP” tour. At Alexander McQueen’s “Banshee” show in at The Café de Paris, I was the voice of the banshee.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JULIE DANZ

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Julie Danz of Juvi Designs.

Visit juvidesigns.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

We are a husband and wife duo.  After studying art history in UCD Dublin, I moved to New York City to work in the world of interior design. Vincent is a talented silversmith who honed his skills in Mexico. Having both returned to Ireland, we set up Juvi Designs from our living room in Rathgar, Dublin in 2006.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Winning “Best Accessory Designer” at Dublin Fashion Week was a big break for us and allowed us to open a pop-up at Dublin’s most prestigious department store, Brown Thomas.  This was the catalyst for a change in our business and our profile.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To be a world-renowned destination brand for anyone looking something special for themselves or as a gift for a loved one.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Storytelling is at the heart of all we do. Jewellery is such a personal possession, and everyone has a story reflecting how they came to own a specific piece, the memory behind it or what it symbolizes. This is synonymous with the Irish charm; everyone has a story to tell.  Our tag line is “each piece is a story brought home” – the creation of each piece is guided by our story, but we are most inspired by the stories the wearer brings to their special piece.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Juvi is exactly who we are—Ju from Julie; Vi from Vincent. We are a partnership, and we both bring our strengths, inspiration, style, and vibe to every collection. 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I love Helena Christensen.  She is naturally beautiful and emits that effortless boho vibe that inspires us. She is a fabulous photographer and oozes creativity. 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Philip Treacy and Temperley London always inspire me. Their flair for colour, femininity, intricate craft, and the inclusion of natural elements like feathers, leaves, and fine materials lures me in every time.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is dedicated to advocating for Irish craftspeople, recognizing the craft, ethos, and beauty created and inspired by our little island.  We may be a small country, but we are competing on a global stage.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I think everyone who appreciates craft, storytelling, heritage, and design should wear Irish.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Travel is always the starting point for our creative process. We travel the world searching for beautiful, ethically sourced gemstones, and I still spend the return flight sketching.  When we return to our studio, Vincent and I work together to bring my sketches to life, experimenting with finishes, different gemstones, and feeling out the story we want the collection to tell. 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

We are so lucky that our studio is nestled at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. From our workshop, our views are of the rugged and ever-changing landscapes as the seasons change. As we move into autumn and winter seasons, I feel the pull of darker gemstones like garnet and onyx, yet as the brighter evenings roll around, I am inspired to work with exotically colored stones like aqua chalcedony and green tourmaline.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I think Irish people have an affinity with nature and the wilderness. Our little island is always affected by the elements, and likewise, for such a small part of the world, the Irish are known to be forces of nature.  This is reflected in our jewellery—we work directly with gemstones created and forged naturally from the Earth. 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Rings, colourful rings!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My kids, dog walks by the sea and my sketchpad.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

I believe any casual outfit can be transformed with a good pair of earrings.  I am always drawn to black, so a great vibrant pair of earrings can add that perfect pop of colour.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

Interior design is still a huge inspiration and creative draw for me. Having worked under Carlton Varney, one of America’s most adventurous and bold interior designers, I am always chatting all things design. From colour combinations, redecorating our home and studio and helping friends with their interior design plans.  I am all about colour!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | ELAINE MADIGAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Elaine Madigan.

Visit madigancashmere.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I learned my trade as a young teenager from my very talented mother, Maureen. She taught me how to create beautiful garments from beautiful fabrics. I studied knitwear design at Limerick IT. 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career has been the realization that people want to be part of our story and choose to buy into the Madigan brand.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To continue to develop our luxury Irish products within the brand and to market worldwide.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Designers, manufacturers and purveyors of Irish luxury.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Madigan is our family name, which for five generations has been synonymous with making and selling luxury Irish goods.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse is Coco Chanel. She personifies elegance, determination, and self-belief.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with Chanel.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The recognition of our historic Irish design skills, taking them into the now, which will allow them to evolve into the future.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone should get the opportunity and experience of WearingIrish.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

We make everything here ourselves in Ireland. From my studio in County Kildare, I design and create the first of everything.  I then work with my team of ladies to produce our cashmere collection.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

My sense of place is what fuels my imagination. I’m lucky to live in the countryside in Straffan, which continues to offer me something special to inspire my creative process. It is where the magic happens.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish gives me a tremendous sense of identity and heritage, and this is what has influenced my creations.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My new Madigan Heritage Aran collection.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Space for creativity, family, and great food.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Start your day with the piece you want to wear and make everything else work around it.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

Having set up many businesses over the past thirty years, I’ve finally found my niche, and I’m doing what I love.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | NATASHA SHERLING

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Natasha Sherling.




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I have a business degree from Trinity College, but after graduating I followed my love of design to magazines; I worked as a fashion editor for several years, but the draw of jewellery was too strong! I moved to New York to study gemmology before returning home, where I continue to source the most beautiful gemstones for my collections.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I have been so lucky that my pieces have been used to celebrate the most beautiful moments—marriages, babies, promotions and even a trip to the Oscars. All I can ask is for that to continue—for me, it will always be about the story at the heart of the jewellery.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It’s my name—there’s such an essential element of trust with fine jewellery, I have always believed that it’s imperative to have my name over the door.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Ashley Olsen accessorises like no one else; her appreciation for antique and contemporary jewellery is evident.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I have always maintained that we have some of the best creative talents in Ireland. The WearingIrish movement is key to shining a spotlight not just on the makers but on the stylish people who choose to wear their work.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

In terms of bespoke work, everything starts with the stones, which I then design around. Depending on the intricacies of the piece, we go between sketches, CADs and even 3D prints to try on! Having a team of goldsmiths here in Dublin is imperative to my process; nothing beats face-to-face discussions when it comes to jewellery details.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I find Ireland to be quiet but majestic. This sense of elegance is what runs through my work; perhaps unassuming at first, but ultimately powerful—the best gemstones, weighty gold and clean lines for a sense of polish. Our heritage, our wonderful tradition of storytelling—it all feeds into my work, which is designed to be multigenerational, carrying new stories within each piece. I always say jewellery tells our story better than anything else we could choose to wear.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It has to be my first morganite and diamond ring. It was a bespoke piece that featured a six-carat Asscher cut morganite surrounded by diamonds set in platinum. I fell in love with morganites while studying gemmology—and I was one of the first in Ireland to use them regularly in my collections. I remember being told I’d never sell the pieces as no one knew what morganite was! Now they have become so popular, and I get so many requests for them. That original ring was made for Brown Thomas and appeared in their Christmas windows and ad campaigns, but I’ve created so many others based on the original design—with different centre stones too, including sapphires, peridot, and diamonds.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family, gold bangles and cashmere.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Pearl earrings are an instant pick-me-up! If your skin isn’t looking great, pearls are a must—they bounce light back onto complexions, giving an added glow.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I love the sea and would swim in it every day if I could—although when it’s a bit too cold to get in, a pleasant walk along the shore is the perfect tonic.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MARGARET O’ROURKE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Margaret O’Rourke of MoMuse.




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Fifteen years ago, I started to sell some pieces on Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar. It wasn’t until MoMuse that I found an outlet for the creativity I always knew I had. We began in ‘The Loft,’ a market-style space for independent designers, before opening the same standalone store we still call home. 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

July 2017, when MoMuse was featured in the New York Times as one of “Five Places to Shop in Dublin.” The article was hugely validating for us as an independent business and introduced us to an international customer base who still shop at MoMuse today. 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

As long as we continue to adorn our customers in simple, timeless jewellery that become their most valued everyday pieces, we’re happy!

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Simple, fine, and elegant jewellery, which is something we come back to time and time again. 


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Initially, I had thought about calling the brand ‘Muse,’ but a friend recommended adding a personal element. My full name felt too long to use, so I decided on ‘Mo.’ It’s a name many of my closest family and friends would call me. In Irish, it means ‘my.’

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

For me, my customers are my muses, but I’m also inspired by Julianne Moore and our very own Saoirse Ronan.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Alexander McQueen—I’m a long-time wearer—or Simone Rocha. Both brands have an ethereal quality that I feel marries well with MoMuse.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish has fostered a great sense of community and support for small businesses and Irish designers.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

With the wealth of talent that exists within the Irish design community, I feel that everyone should have a piece of Irish design in their wardrobe. We have everything here from luxurious cashmere brands, such as Eilis Boyle to the handmade bespoke couture of Helen Cody and the tailored genius of Peter O’Brien.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Travel and people inform my process. I have a small creative studio in the heart of Dublin city where I sketch and design; it’s a very peaceful space. Early on, we designed pieces that we continue to produce today: our fine stacking rings, simple gold disc necklace, and delicate stud earrings. Focusing on what we and our customers and we love and staying true to this is an integral part of this creative process. 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

My childhood in Killarney gave me an appreciation for the outdoors. I spent my summers exploring Muckross House and Gardens, where my Dad worked. Today, I’m fortunate to live near Dublin’s Phoenix Park. It gives me a tremendous sense of space and freedom each time I visit and reboots my creativity if I’m ever in need of it. 

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Every time I travel, I’m struck by the reception we Irish people receive abroad—we’re seen as a nation of genuine and caring people (who tend to talk a lot!). My pieces are simple and charming, and I think you could say the same thing about the Irish character. 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our classic 9kt gold interlinked circle necklace is still one of our most coveted pieces. For me, it epitomises MoMuse—minimal, simple, and enduring. The two circles symbolise eternal support and unconditional love.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I cannot live without travel, friends & family, and Dublin humour—particularly my husband’s!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

A classic black look with red/coral lipstick and fine jewellery.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I come from quite a musical family and got to perform in New York’s Carnegie Hall with Jury’s Irish Cabaret. I was still in school, so it was incredibly exciting.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | YVONNE KELLY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Yvonne Kelly.




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in Co. Cavan and studied international languages in NUI, Galway. I worked in the airline industry and advertising before finally following my heart to study to become a professional jeweller. After graduating from college with a distinction, I set up my jewellery brand and have never looked back!

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being asked to design a nautical-themed wedding band for a Hollywood celebrity!


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To be an internationally successful brand and to continue making memorable pieces of jewellery that connect with people and make them happy. 

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The heart and soul of my brand is wearable art that has love, good humour, and quality Irish craftsmanship at its core.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name is my name, Yvonne Kelly. The surname Kelly is a popular Irish name, and I’m very proud of my heritage.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I’d have to say, Meryl Streep. I admire her talent, integrity, style, and sense of fun!

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with Lady Gaga as I love her quirkiness, and she certainly doesn’t let boundaries limit her imagination!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement is an incredible platform for telling the stories of talented Irish designers and craftspeople and helping expose their brands to an international audience.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone who appreciates quality and unique style.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

When making jewellery, I like to take an unconventional approach. I am inspired by ordinary things and giving them a new life or dimension in metal form. My flip flop collection is an example–even though we don’t get to wear flip flops much in Ireland, you can always wear one around your neck!

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Ireland and its people are a constant source of inspiration in my work. This land is bursting with creative talent and to be surrounded by such talent is a privilege. At the heart of the Irish psyche is good humour, charm and creative abundance; I endeavour to capture this in my work. 

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I am proud to call Ireland my home, and I designed the ‘House of Love’ pendant as a symbol of the importance—of having a place to call home, be it a physical place, building or simply a feeling of being ‘home.’

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My best selling ‘Buckets of Love’ pendant—it is a reminder to me every day to fill it up with love, spread the love and never empty it!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Love, laughter, and strong coffee!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Keep it simple and wear a smile with every outfit.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I climbed Africa’s highest mountain Mount Kilimanjaro (for my sins!), but it taught me the meaning of resilience and never giving up!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KIRKBEE DESIGNS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Karen Kirby of Kirkbee Designs. 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the Grafton Academy in 2000 with an honors diploma. Upon graduating, I went straight to work in one of the largest fashion houses in Ireland, where I stayed for seven years going from intern to head of design. Within the role of head womenswear designer, I led a large team and travelled extensively within this role. Travel has been my main catalyst in opening my mind creatively and a massive influence on launching Kirbee.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career was launching into Brown Thomas in Dublin and Cork in January 2019. Sitting alongside international brands in such a premium store is a dream come true.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My main ambition is to grow the brand internationally and have Kirbee as the premium childrenswear range in the Irish market.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Kirbee is all about a feeling of nostalgia and creating memories; the beauty of childhood innocence.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My maiden name is Karen Kirby. My mum was a talented tailor and seamstress—that’s were my love of design came from. The brand name is a nod to my family.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Princess Charlotte. I absolutely love the way Kate Middleton dresses her children in this very innocent, childlike way. It’s magical, and the portraits she has of her children are timeless.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with a company like Foxford. I adore what they have achieved with their brand, making it commercial while still honoring the strong roots of their heritage.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland is a magical land of creativity; an island of artists. Wearing Irish is a fantastic way of showing this to the world.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everybody! Like Spain is known for its excellent wine, tapas, and sunshine, why shouldn’t Ireland be known for beautifully made clothes?

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I usually start with my colour palette for that season, which can be influenced by something in nature to a colour combination I have seen in a Beatrix Potter book, for example. Travel is also a significant influence on my collections. I also try to inject new shapes into every season’s collection, just like I did when I was a womenswear designer. When colours are finalized, I work on incorporating them into beautiful prints.

Cotton is the main fabric used in my creations as it is the most natural fibre to have against a child’s skin. My coats are made from a soft mouflon fabric, and I produce the coats in the collection’s main colours, so they will coordinate with my dresses. Every season I add new silhouettes with my coats, and they really have become the signature of the Kirbee brand.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I travelled extensively as a womenswear designer and noted how beautifully the children dressed in European countries like Spain, France, and Italy. I wanted to create this beautiful, timeless way of dressing children, taking my influence from Ireland and Irish culture. It has become hugely important for Irish people to support Irish design and Irish industry.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Family is everything to me, and this is the core of Kirbee, deep-rooted in my great-grandfather having his own tailoring business in Dublin city. Living and being born in Ireland has given me a great sense of belief, belief that we as a country can be independent and take inspiration from our beautiful land. We are submerged in beauty, craft, and history; we are a country with amazing working fabric mills from the depths of Donegal tweed to Foxford in Mayo. Fashion is back, and craftsmanship is relevant again. Wearing Irish is such an incredible platform to expose the world to the talent in our small but wonderful country.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our coats. We have a full range of dresses, pinafores, blouses, but it is our coats that signifies what our brand stands for—classic pieces with a contemporary twist.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My children, sunglasses, and my heart shaped Chupi earrings.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Always pare it back. Less is definitely more.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I grew up in North County Dublin by the sea. This is my most special place, looking out to the sea and knowing that as Irish people, we are united on this beautiful island.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LUKE DULLY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Luke Dully of Walker & Hunt.




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I studied commerce at National University College Galway before graduating in 2016. I began working in a finance role in Dublin before moving to Austin, Texas, to gain more experience. I had the opportunity to work at Facebook and work part-time in Kendra Scott’s international fulfillment centre before coming home to launch in 2019. I’ve always had a love for fashion.  I suppose I come from a slightly different angle than most designers. I come from the business to the fashion side, whereas most come from a fashion background.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment was when I first realized the actual size and scalability a business like this could have. From seeing the size of the operation, Kendra Scott had and listening to her journey to success it gave me the motivation I needed to start Walker & Hunt fully.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To become a global brand name with a wide range of products and accessories. I hope to make Walker & Hunt a sustainable and Eco- Friendly brand over the next few years as I think there is a significant shift coming in this direction.


HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Refined. Versatile. Sophisticated.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

It would either be Andrea Pirlo or Tom Hardy. Both staples of masculinity.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

When I was working in Dublin, I realised that there wasn’t an Irish High Street brand that represented me. All my friends, including myself, were buying global brands. That was one of the main reasons for starting Walker & Hunt. I am thrilled to see that there are so many other Irish designers like me who are inspired by the WearingIrish movement, and together, I think we can continue to put Ireland on the map.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

All people who like a subtle and classic look and share our brand values. When a foreigner thinks of Ireland, certain things come to mind—Jameson and Guinness; writers like Yeats and Oscar Wilde; our lush green landscapes; Riverdance and U2. Ireland is a small country full of icons that have been exported around the world. I hope to create something on par with our other icons, and that represents Ireland on a global stage.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Throughout the years, I have built up a portfolio of designs and ideas.  The team and I sit down and decide what suits before bringing our samples forward to retailers for their opinion. Because we are so new and relatively small, we have to pick and choose wisely before going into bulk production. We hope to continue to add to our product range as we develop.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I think that Ireland has inspired Walker & Hunt’s subtle and classic designs hugely. I believe that most Irish men like a simple and refined look, as I do. I think that one of the factors this comes down to is how small Ireland is. The close-knit communities in which we live in is what keeps most Irish people so grounded. I think this is fantastic. If you start to get notions about yourself, it won’t be long before being brought back down to earth by your friends or family.  I think this similar grounding reflects in Irish male fashion as they tend not to dress too extravagantly.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish means our heritage, our people, our beautiful landscape, and the simplicity of life. I think this is why Walker & Hunt being an Irish company, works so well. We focus on a subtle look and use Ireland’s iconic scenery and rich heritage to amplify that.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Either our weekender bags or our sweatshirts. We have a new range coming out over the next few months, and I hope people like them just as much.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Friends, family, and tea & biscuits.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | GERALDINE O’MEARA

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Geraldine O’Meara. 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in Manchester, England to Irish parents, both from Co. Offaly. I always loved Ireland and moved to Offaly on my own when I was 19, to set up a dressmaking business. I am a self-taught designer, sewing from an early age and gaining experience in design and manufacture through the years. The business has evolved, and my label Geraldine O’Meara Designs is now established in Crinkle, Birr, Co. Offaly.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been a few. I designed outfits for the former Taoiseach’s wife, Mary Cowen, on her St. Patrick’s Day visit, to the White House, two years in a row, to meet President Obama and the First Lady.

My designs have also been worn on the red carpet in Hong Kong at the premiere of Transformers 4 movie, and I have had the opportunity of dressing many Irish TV celebrities for red carpet events—Kathyrn Thomas, Claire Byrne, Lucy Kennedy, Lorraine Keane, and Laura Woods.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To continue designing and making quality bespoke dresses for special occasions, but also to expand my ready-to-wear collection.


HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

My brand is based on creating well-made occasion wear for the modern woman—classic designs with a twist and a touch of elegance.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My own name, Geraldine O’Meara.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would be Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who epitomises pure elegance and style. She is a classic beauty, perfect for wearing my day dresses and evening gowns.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to collaborate on an evening wear collection with Elie Saab, as he uses the most beautiful fabrics and laces, and knows how to do red carpet looks so well.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The #WearingIrish movement has grown rapidly through social media, creating a fantastic platform for Irish designers, placing them in the global market and showing off the vast talent that is available in Ireland.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone, especially the Irish people abroad, who can continue to showcase the exceptional talent and creativity that Ireland has to offer.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Each creation starts with the fabric rather than a sketch. I might have a design in mind, but it is influenced by the drape of the material or the design and quality of the lace I’m using. The finished result is often completely different from my original design. The creative process can be straightforward, but it usually takes a few detours to achieve the desired look.  

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Being able to work in Ireland, the country I love, designing and producing my collections is of great importance to me. I am lucky enough to work from my home studio in rural Ireland away from the madness of the city, so creativity is more free flowing with fewer interruptions. Working from home means, I am always thinking of new ideas and designs and can work at any time of the day (and often the night).

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I am proud to be Irish, working in a country I love, that is full of heritage, history, and amazing people and places, all of which inspire me to create classic designs.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The “Elaine” red and black coat. It has a timeless, elegant design and can be worn over a simple classic dress.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, scissors, and a sewing machine.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Keep it simple, elegant, and classic.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I am married to Denis and have two adult children, Laura and Dermot, my greatest achievements in life.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | ASHLEIGH MYLES

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Ashleigh Myles.

Visit ashleighmylesmillinery.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’m a self-taught milliner. From as far back as I can remember, I have always had a love of fashion, experimenting with knitting and sewing. Millinery has become my first passion. I love that I can be as creative as I feel and transform that feeling into a wearable hat.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

It would have to be winning Millinery Designer of the Year at the Irish Fashion and Innovation Awards in March 2019. It was a huge honour to be recognized for my work amongst inspirational and successful business persons.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To gain as much exposure as I possibly can and reach out to as many ladies as possible to share my creations.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

To be recognized as a unique milliner who has a passion for making clients happy and feel beautiful, and that more fashion lovers will come to choose me to help create their perfect hat. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It’s my full name.


YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I am living the dream at the moment by getting the opportunity to display my creations in the iconic Brown Thomas in Grafton Street for CREATE 2019.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It would have to be the strong, fierce woman behind this movement—Margaret Molloy. She has such dedication and a love of Irish designers, and she is helping expand designer awareness each day, both at home in Ireland and abroad.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone should wear and appreciate Irish designs as there is always a beautiful story of dedicated craft and passion behind every creation.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I have an idea and start by blocking the base; I hand sew, wire and cover in chosen fabrics. I create the centerpiece using all types of tools and materials. For example, my recent collection in Brown Thomas was created using recycled cable ties. I always try to think outside the box.   

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Ireland is full of beauty and quirkiness, and it’s very inspiring to me. I am very proud of my Irishness, and the beauty Ireland has to offer. I like to create this in my hats. It can be from everyday objects to remarkable landscape designs to plants and flowers.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I am very proud to be an Irish woman and an Irish designer; I feel incredibly fortunate and thankful that I was born with a creative and sometimes complicated mind.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It would have to be my “An Awen” cable ties collection.  It was a very proud moment seeing my collection win the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards 2019 Millinery Category by the use of the humble cable tie.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My work, my mobile phone and my blusher brush.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

It would have to be my only ever extravagant gift to myself, my bifocal Prada glasses to hide my hardworking tired eyes!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I can play Salley Gardens on the fiddle.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | CATRIONA HANLY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Catriona Hanly.

Visit catrionahanly.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I established a jewellery line in over 350 boutiques throughout Ireland and the UK. When I was in the US, I went on to deliver interior projects in leading hotels and private residences, from which I gathered experience and went on to the fashion world, creating timeless heritage pieces.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When I won the VIP Style Award for best jewellery in all of Ireland. Also, in 2018, I was named Designer of the Year at The Rose of Tralee Fashion Show.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To grow my brand globally and to expand the collection further; I would love to do a luxury kidswear range.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Unique timeless statement pieces with signature collars and cuffs, designed in luxurious fabrics.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Since my heart and soul goes into the designs, the brand is my name.

YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Amal Clooney—I love that she embodies such style and elegance so effortlessly, from her workwear as a busy career woman to her evening wear in front of LA’s glitterati.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I have great admiration for Bergdorf Goodman as a retailer, so I would love to collaborate with them to have a collection in their store.  

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It’s impressive to see so many talented Irish men and women get a platform to showcase their designs.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I’d love to see Cate Blanchett wear Irish because of her timeless elegance and Jennifer Lawrence, embracing her Irish roots!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

Fabrics set my world on fire! I’m inspired by the rich and luxurious fabrics that I incorporate into my collections.  I’m inspired creatively by many things: fashion past and present, travel, art. However, it is when I see the fabric that my creative journey takes off.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

My Irish roots and time living here have inspired my collections, especially the tweeds. You can’t get much more Irish than that fabric. I grew up in the countryside around Irish castles and manor estates, so this influence is very prevalent in my designs. 

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

As I’ve traveled so much, I feel like a citizen of the world. However, I can’t deny the strong influence my home country has on the look and feel of my collections. 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

I love the suits; they are streamlined, edgy, and fun. 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My phone, my pearl earrings, and a spritz of Hermes perfume before I go out. 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

An elegant silk scarf (preferably Hermes) lifts an outfit to the next level.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

If I weren’t a fashion designer, I’d love to be a race car driver! 


MEET THE DESIGNERS | DEBBIE MILLINGTON

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Debbie Millington. 

Visit debbiemillington.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

After graduating from the National College of Art and Design with a degree in fashion, I worked as a style assistant in Brown Thomas before moving to London to work for a TV production company, The New Renaissance. It was in Australia that I began assisting in the costume departments for films, such as Star Wars and Moulin Rouge. Now I juggle motherhood, travel and movie making, continuing my love for costume design in the film world.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Costume designer Colleen Atwood bought some of my scarves for Fantastic Beasts. Also, celebrities Paul Weller, Anna Friel, Jude Law, film director Reed Morano, costume designer Stranger Things, Malgosia Turzanska and Bond producers have various designs from my collections. Another client, who is a big fan of the brand, told me she would keep my scarf with her Hermés collection as an heirloom piece, to pass down to her daughters. 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I hope that over time, the brand will gain international recognition and become a successful household name; the go-to scarf brand of choice, famed for unique designs, vibrant colours, and luxuriously soft silk. I hope to see my scarves selling in Liberty London, Harrods and Barneys New York.


HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The scarves are inspired by a wonderland of personal travel photography and experiences from around the world, injecting each scarf with vibrant exotic colour and pattern, that promise to boost your mood and complexion while making you look and feel a million dollars.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

The brand name comes from the brand founder and designer, Debbie Millington.  

YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I have always adored Iris Aphel, her sense of dress and the way she wears colour. At 97 she is still a force of nature. As she says “Life can be dull but you can always have fun with colour when you dress”. She is so confident in what she wears and her combined use of pattern, colour and texture within the one outfit is simply outstanding!

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to work with Timorous Beasties the surreal and provocative wallpaper design company or Chinese couture designer Guo Pei, whose extravagant embroideries and larger than life costumes are unrivalled sculptural works of art.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish offers a sense of community for designers and a unified collective strength, bringing together creatives from all walks of life. They open doors and offer opportunities to designers to showcase their brands on a more global stage, taking the idea of what is “Irish” out of the traditional sense and benching Irish products in a more contemporary forward thinking platform, which I love.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I would like more Irish people to wear and show more support for local designers and crafts. There is such a wide variety of high quality home grown products here in Ireland, from woven textiles, pottery, ceramics, fashion, accessories, homeware and soft furnishings. The choice is endless and there is little to no need to look abroad when gifting.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I do not follow trends or seasons and produce two new collections a year. Design ideas for me generally start from a travel memory or photograph, which I then draw or use directly to create a repeat pattern in Photoshop. I often overlay many photographic images to create a layered design within the square. I then send the finished files to a highly reputable UK based print company, where they sustainably print ( using non toxic Azo Free inks) , cut, hand roll and sew each individual silk scarf. I have chosen to print in the UK as I can carefully monitor production and know that all work meets strict EU quality and human rights standards. No tiny hands are used in the making of any of my silk scarves and they are not mass produced in China. 

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Ireland continually inspires my work. I love to visit botanical gardens and stately homes for inspiration, drawing on ideas from flowers, trees, wildlife, nature, interior decor, furnishings and architecture. The magnificent landscapes and seascapes and the diversity of Irish culture, music and fine art painting provide an endless source of inspiration for me.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I am always proud to be Irish travelling abroad, everyone always loves the Irish and welcome you with open arms. Being Irish has opened many doors for me and allowing me to visit and enjoy so many countries, people being overly generous with their time. Eventhough I have always cherished my traditional heritage, I am keen however to produce a product that offers a more contemporary twist on the Irish scarf.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Jellyfish design was inspired by the aquatic pulsating jellyfish I witnessed in the West of Ireland. It is such an unusual print but one of my best sellers, the combination of the elegant black and punchy orange border, with highlights of gold in the tentacles, is truly indulgent in sumptuous silk. Also the Zebra print, inspired by an overland safari trip in the African Serengeti, is an iconic design. Exquisite in all the colour ways – pink, red, green and citrus yellow, it is a dramatic statement piece sure to turn heads. 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My camera, fun, family and friends.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Have plenty of block colours in your wardrobe and let your silk scarf add the pattern, colour and dramatic touch to your ensemble, letting the vibrant colours of the scarves naturally boost your complexion and enhance your skin tone and features.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I struck it lucky gold panning in the gold rush town of Dawson City, Alaska.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | ROBBIE HENSHAW

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Robbie Henshaw of Henshaw Eyewear.

Visit henshaweyewear.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am from Athlone, Co. Westmeath and grew up on the banks of the River Shannon. I have recently completed a degree in Economics at University College Dublin, and I play professional rugby for Leinster and Ireland. The idea for my eyewear brand came after I began to experience problems with my eyes after prolonged time looking at screens. I researched the issue and discovered I was suffering from digital eye strain.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

It has to be winning the PRO12 Trophy with Connacht in 2016. A lot of people gave us no chance, but we believed in ourselves, our strategy, and most importantly, we believed in the people of the province who backed us all the way. It shows that despite all the odds if you believe in the process, you will increase the chances of success, which is something I have taken with me into the business.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To educate society on the importance of eye health and eye care. I want to develop an internationally known eyewear brand from Ireland.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

We played around with a few different names, but I kept coming back to “Henshaw” as I wanted to keep family rooted in everything we do.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I want to collaborate with Niall Horan. He’s also from Westmeath and is a talented musician making great strides in the USA.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

 WearingIrish has inspired us immensely on this journey, showing us that when you put the work in, global success is possible. Designer Alison Conneely is an incredible story coming from WearingIrish, and in time we hope we’ll have a similar path.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Young and old, from every corner of the planet. The creativity coming out of Ireland is world-class, and WearingIrish designs is a gift.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

My latest collection is inspired by my love of the river and especially Lough Ree. We have created a collection for those who love the outdoors, who love an adventure. I named each of the frames after a part of Lough Ree in Athlone. The Lecarrow frames are my personal favourite in the sunglass collection.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

My whole career revolves around my pride in being Irish. Wearing the green jersey has opened my eyes to Irish communities both here and across the world. I am proud to represent Ireland on the rugby pitch and equally pleased to have launched an Irish eyewear brand.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My favorite pair are the Henshaw I Blue Block glasses.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Coffee, my BBQ, and my accordion.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

You can’t go wrong with a plain white T-shirt.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I have 20/20 vision, so I never needed to wear prescription glasses. However, due to my use of screens, i.e., laptops, smartphones, etc., I began to experience eye strain. This inspired me to create my brand. I want to educate people about my blue light glasses and the importance of wearing them, regardless of whether you have a prescription or not.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | RUZA LEKO

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Ruza Leko of Leko and Leko.

Visit lekoandleko.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Growing up in war-torn Croatia, opportunities were rare and the atmosphere gloomy. I travelled to Ireland, studied here, and have worked as a designer since. One day I made a necklace while upcycling an old belt, which inspired my father to work with me on developing more ideas.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

My first full-time job as an in-house designer at Science Gallery. The position ultimately shaped how I work, think, and problem solve. Working with talented and diverse people over the years motivated me to create my projects.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would love to see Leko & Leko jewellery featured in more galleries and exhibitions, both here and abroad.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Leko & Leko pieces are dark, yet elegant and delicate, echoing the nature of the material—5,000-year-old bog-oak.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Leko & Leko is a brand designed and made by father/daughter duo, Ivan Leko and Ruza Leko.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

In a society crowded by an impersonal fast fashion industry, the Wearingirish movement shifts the motivation to buying something if you love it, if you need it, and you know how it is made.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone with good taste!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I start by sketching out ideas, after which I meet my dad to work on new pieces a few times each year. We make several versions until we are pleased with the design. Working in bog-oak can be slow, but it is always rewarding to see the finished pieces.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

For me, Ireland is a good place. I feel good here. Attitudes, opportunities and humor, it all affects my own sense of place, how I feel and therefore the work I produce.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

As a Croatian national living in Ireland for the last 17 years, Ireland is now my home and has influenced me tremendously—check out the material I use!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Gaia pendant!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My dogs, yoga, and nature.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Wearing simple combinations of black, white, and grey works for me and my jewellery.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I have 47 house plants.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KATIE O’RIORDAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Katie O’Riordan.

Visit theoandgeorge.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I have always loved fashion, but I took the long route to get here.  With a background in physics and architecture, I was always curious about science and design.  My first major stint in fashion design was with Burton Snowboards, where I managed the outerwear division and designed technical garments.  It wasn’t until I moved to Ireland when I was 30 that I got formal training from Grafton Academy and started Theo + George.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

While I was working for Burton Snowboards, I had the opportunity to work on the designs for the US Olympic Snowboard uniform.  I was flown out to Vancouver to watch the Olympics and got to meet fellow Olympic designer Vera Wang.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition for Theo + George is for it to become the go-to premium, sustainable essentials brand.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Our brand idea, Everyday Effortless, is about simplifying your life, making the right choices to live life with more ease.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

The brand is named after my two grandfathers.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Emma Stone because she is a natural beauty, refined and elegant. Plus, she believes in and supports sustainable fashion.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to collaborate with American brand Everlane, Cuyana or Reformation.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland is a small country, but it harbours incredible creative talents. I’m inspired by how the WearingIrish movement is creating connections for Irish talent globally.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am constantly documenting inspiration on my phone—from architecture to textiles.  For me, the creative process doesn’t have a start or finish line. It is something I’m always refining.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Ireland has a huge influence on my designs, especially the climate.  Each collection I design is usually centered around a key outerwear piece.  If you live in Ireland, you know how important these staples are to you wardrobe.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Alannah bomber jacket is by far the most coveted item in our collection.  It was designed for our first collection and worn by Amy Huberman that year. To date, it is still one of the most sought after styles.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family, friends, and the perfect t-shirt.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

I’m a big fan of the French tuck. By tucking in your shirt slightly in the front, you instantly look more polished.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LOUISE MONAGHAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Louise Monaghan of Rant and Rave.

Visit rantandrave.eu for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My dream was to become a fashion designer but in the mid-’80s this created head-scratching moments for my teachers and my parents as to how to go about doing fashion. I completed my A level Art in Armagh, which led me to Harrogate Institute of Arts and Technology to study foundation art. Suddenly fashion became a very realistic option. I went on to UWE Bristol to earn my fashion degree. I was fortunate to live near Moygashel Co. Tyrone, where Paul Costelloe had an office.  I had the privilege to work there during summer holidays and get sponsored for my final collection with beautiful Moygashel linen.

My first job was with a denim plant in Athlone. I loved everything about denim manufacturing and learning the ropes at the factories. When things got tough for Irish manufacturing, our directors decided that to stay in business we had to set up our brand. So, in 2005 Rant and Rave was born. 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I probably have two defining moments.

The first is being involved in Rant and Rave from the get-go. Witnessing how it has evolved into a reputable brand fills me with immense pride. Also, seeing people wearing Rant and Rave is as exhilarating today as it was for me 14 years ago. The second moment was being mentioned a few years back in my local primary school pantomime: Cinderella was asked if she was wearing a Louise Jordan (my maiden name) creation. I was gratified to think that one day, I could inspire a whole new generation to dream and to achieve as I did.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I will always strive to design products I love and to grow as an Irish brand. I hope Rant and Rave will encourage and inspire a new generation of talent to come and work with our team.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Each season we create a refined, powerful, and inspiring collection of colour and pattern with a formidable love and appreciation for denim.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Our marketing executive Carina came up with the name for us. It reflects our ambitions, which was for women to wear our collection and immediately want to “rant and rave” about it with their friends.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. She is simply stunning and never over worked.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

This is a brand goal for us, so we will not mention any names for now.  However, it will be with an Irish name; we just need to be sure the timing and product are right.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The #WearingIrish movement is an inspiring platform to showcase and create awareness for all the incredible Irish talent we have. At Rant and Rave, we feel privileged to be part of this.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone who is Irish; I feel it is so vital to support homegrown talent.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

A sense of place is crucial to the roots and history of any brand. For me, the deep Monaghan roots of Rant and Rave strengthens the ethos of our brand. Understanding that our natural heritage is steeping in creativity only inspires our originality. Known as the Farney county, Monaghanmay be the smallest county in Ulster, but it is full of creativity, providing us with one of the country’s most celebrated poets—Patrick Kavanagh.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish fills me with gratitude, pride, and has taught me that we can be the best. Riverdance in the 1994 Eurovision showed global audiences that for such a small country, Ireland’s creativity is world-class. For me, this is the moment the world saw what we were capable of.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It would have to be our very first style, the Rosette Flare. This style is the reason we are in business today as it established our label from the beginning. The Rosette was a heavy stonewashed flare. This summer we even had a flare back in our range for the first time! For sentimental reasons, I will never part with mine.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My boys (my husband and my son), my phone (solely for the camera—pictures record history, which is so important) and flowers (creating sunshine even when it is raining).

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Never over coordinate! As a general rule, two colours is a “no” for me. Always add a third colour!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

My parents taught me to walk on the sunny side of the street. I always try to look on the bright side of life and I hope that I can pass this outlook onto my son.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KATE O’SULLIVAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Kate O’Sullivan.

Visit irelandseyeonline.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

IrelandsEye was founded in Dublin in 1988 by my grandparents and their children. What started in the garage of my grandparent’s home has, over thirty years later, now grown to become a well-known Irish knitwear brand exporting to over twenty countries worldwide.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To become the world’s most sought-after Irish knitwear brand.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

We create effortlessly stylish garments for life, by stitching the essence of what the world loves most about Ireland into each piece.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Our brand name was inspired by Ireland’s Eye, a small uninhabited island located just off the coast of Howth in Dublin, near where we manufacture.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement is a platform showcasing to the world that Irish design is something to be coveted.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone!


TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Our creative process begins with our design team taking a look at the full story of what is happening in the world and where we fit in. Trend forecasting inspires the new colours we bring in to our collection, as well as the overall theme for the collection and original designs.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

As one of the few Irish knitwear manufacturers remaining on the East Coast of Ireland, we take inspiration from our unique location—situated by the coast but on the edge of the bustling city of Dublin. Our garments are designed specifically with that urban coastal lifestyle in mind.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish means being proud of my roots and showcasing that to the world. It heavily influences our designs; you’ll find a nod to our Irish heritage across all of our pieces.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My personal favourite is our Milford Hooded Coat. Made with a wool cotton yarn, it’s the perfect transeasonal piece.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, coffee, and a good sunset.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

You’ll almost always find me in black jeans—I can dress them up or down, and they pair perfectly with any IrelandsEye garment!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I’m a qualified microbiologist!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | CIARA SILKE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Ciara Silke.

Visit ciarasilke.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’ve always loved art and design and knew that somehow, I would carve out a career bringing together the elements of these that I love. After completing a degree in Printed Textile Design in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), I worked as a designer for a small surf-wear company in Ireland.  When the opportunity arose, I jumped at the chance to work for Diane Von Furstenberg in New York and the experiences I had there really inspired me to set up my label. At DVF, I was surrounded by vibrant prints, embellished opulent fabrics, and most importantly, freedom for expression.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Seeing one of my scarves around the neck of an attendee at the Oscars ceremony a couple of years back was a real defining moment for me on a personal level. It gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment that one of my designs was rubbing shoulders with the brands worn by Hollywood royalty on the red carpet.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

The dream is to keep growing my business on an international level and continue developing new product ranges building on the aesthetic of Ciara Silke. Maybe even a Ciara Silke store someday!


HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Unusual color combinations combined with a simple and elegant luxury aesthetic.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

People always remark on the fact that my surname is Silke and I work with silk. It was meant to be. But the name came first.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Little old ladies in headscarves inspire me, especially when they have a unique perspective on combining their scarf with a trench coat that has not been seen outside in twenty years.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Loewe is a fantastic brand. I’d love to collaborate with them sometime. They are really into the craft and producing beautiful lines.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is highlighting the talent we have in Ireland. There is currently such an array of amazing designers and artisans brave enough to launch their brands and finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want people to wear Irish who might never have thought that they would. I want people to invest in new Irish designers because there is something there for everyone’s taste.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Nature is a huge inspiration for me. Wildflowers and exotic flowers I have come across on my travels all feed into my collections. I love the Irish landscape and unique elements we find on our little Island. I live by the sea, so I’m lucky to have this as a constant inspiration. I find nature provides the most stunning colour combinations, shapes, patterns, and textures.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

I am very proud of my Irish heritage and culture. This pride can be seen in my creations—both in the designs themselves which extract from our beautiful Irish flora and in the Gaeilge names that I give the scarfs.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Recently I have been working on a capsule collection of neck scarves. These are exciting designs that will launch soon on my website. Product development is lots of work but so much fun when the new collections come together. 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My Bláth Poipín silk scarf which is so luxurious—when I wear this on my travels I get so many compliments and it always reminds me of the wild fields of poppy flowers in Ireland. My work phone for business purposes. My Cloon Keen Bealtaine perfume made by a local perfumer here in my hometown of Galway.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

My personal styling rule ties in with the Ciara Silke brand. A colourful and beautiful accessory—be it a colourful scarf, piece of jewellery, or handbag—is the perfect way to imbue any outfit with an extra touch of style and elegance.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

That I love meeting my customer in person and building that relationship.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MICHAEL TUTTY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Michael Tutty of Tutty’s Handmade Shoes.

Visit tuttyshandmadeshoes.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Tutty’s Handmade Shoes is a family business. Started by my grandfather George Tutty in 1946, he ran the business alongside his wife, Nelly Tutty. Eddie, his eldest son and wife Mary took it over, followed by my parents George and Marian in 2005.  I’m stepping into big shoes.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Returning to the family business after taking a sabbatical. The sense of pride and excitement I felt continuing the tradition of my family business is something that motivates me to bring the brand to the next level.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

For Tutty’s to become a relevant heritage brand and in turn, develop a robust international presence in the premium footwear market. 

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Family is the heart and soul of our brand. Tutty’s Handmade Shoes is built on the passion and expertise that the family poured into the brand over the past 70 years.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My grandfather George Tutty, Snr. established Tutty’s Handmade Shoes back in 1946. What better way to show pride in your work than putting your name to it?

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish Movement has inspired us to use “the pride of being Irish” as a marketing tool.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everybody!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Our creative process begins and ends with our clients. It is their personality that we embrace to create our bespoke footwear.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Handmade crafts are a big part of our heritage here in Ireland. At Tutty’s Handmade Shoes, skills have been passed down through generations to maintain our work, holding onto the values of a craftsperson and shoemaker to keep our heritage alive.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

We are a proud Irish family. George Tutty, Snr. originated from Dublin, trained in Ennistimon in Co. Clare, before moving to Limerick and starting the business in Naas Co. Kildare where we have been ever since. We are proud of our roots, the skills and knowledge we have picked up along the way.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Classic Oxford Shoe. The possibilities to put your stamp on the design are endless.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, friends, and a good pair of shoes.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

A stylish yet comfortable pair of shoes will always boost your confidence—and what’s more stylish than self-confidence?

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I studied mechanical engineering in college and worked in America for several years before returning home to Ireland to work in the business alongside my father.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JULIE SWAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Julie Swan of Forgotten China.

Visit forgottenchina.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started Forgotten China in 2013 after nearly a decade working in marketing for the drinks industry, and later on, within the educational field. I loved anything creative and always had dreams of setting up my own business.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Forgotten China started as a hobby, selling cake stands and teacup candles but after a gust of wind at an outdoor market resulted in a mound of broken china (and a lot of tears!), I decided to turn the broken china into something beautiful. And so, the Forgotten China jewellery range was born.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I am very focused on growing the online sales side of the business, particularly within the U.S. market.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

“Preserving memories” is very much at the heart and soul of the business.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Forgotten China describes all of the discarded and unwanted china pieces that I have sourced in auction rooms and charity shops across the country.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would have loved to work with Arklow Pottery (when it was in existence), producing an exclusive range of jewellery pieces from their “seconds” and discarded pieces.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I find the #WearingIrish movement inspiring because the diversity of pieces that are now created in Ireland allow anyone, regardless of their style or their budget to wear beautiful Irish made products.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I think that Irish politicians and TV presenters could make more of a concerted effort to wear and support Irish designers, particularly when working abroad.  They could be massively influential if they actively supported the #WearingIrish brand.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I source old, vintage china from charity shops and auction rooms around Ireland specifically looking for discarded, unwanted pieces, with which to make my jewellery. It gives me tremendous joy to see these old, dusty pieces become new and treasured possessions.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

I actively try to source Irish china and pottery, particularly Arklow Pottery (which is now closed down). These pieces of pottery and china are part of our heritage and our culture, and so many of the patterns and designs are not desirable anymore in their original state as teacup and saucers. Sourcing authentic Irish china or pottery and with it creating unique and modern pieces of jewellery that can be worn and loved daily is very rewarding.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish is a huge honour for me and preserving the craftsmanship and designs of Irish pottery and china is a key focus for Forgotten China.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The commission pieces that I create are the most coveted items in my collection. It is an honour to be asked to make jewellery from my customers’ china; a privilege to hear the background stories when I receive the china and to witness the (happy!) tears that regularly appear when customers see the finished pieces. 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, great friends and regular trips to one of the best spots in Ireland, Caherdaniel in Co. Kerry.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Less is more.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

A piece of advice that I was given when I set up Forgotten China was to be mindful that the highs will be higher than anything you may experience working as an employee, but the lows will also be lower. It has proved true so many times over the past few years, and it has regularly helped me keep things in perspective!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | EVA POWER

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Eva Power.

Visit theethicalsilkco.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I have a bit of a varied background having studied Sociology and Greek & Roman Civilisation and then going on to study and practice craniosacral therapy, working mainly with lovely, little squidgy babies.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When I started paying myself.  The Ethical Silk Company is self-funded; I grew it slowly and put all revenue back into it for the first few years while I worked part-time as a therapist. It was hugely gratifying to start drawing a salary from it, finally.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To continue to establish in the US and keep developing new collections and products, while continuing to build our sustainable production processes.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Luxury and ethics.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The array of talent that comes from our small nation means you no longer have to look overseas to find beautiful clothes that you can wear every day.


HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

We design all our prints in Ireland, so inspiration comes from what’s around and what’s familiar—colour variations, shapes. This is combined with the travel I’ve done in India and along the Silk Road, so I enjoy seeing the mixture of different places coming together.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My palazzo pants from our loungewear collection. Once I know I’m in for the evening, I’m in them. The pants are incredibly comfortable for curling up on the couch with a book or watching a movie.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My favourite pair of jeans, beach days and a good moisturizer.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Red lipstick makes any outfit feel like a “going out” outfit.

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

My most cherished items of clothing are two tops—one from each of my grandmothers. They are both over 50 years old, and as they are constructed so well, they still look great for an evening out. I feel special when I wear them.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | YVONNE BEALE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Yvonne Beale.

Visit instagram.com/yvonne_beale_design for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My mother and grandmother were forever creating, so I had to, too!  As a teenager, I first knitted for family and friends, and the orders just kept on coming!  In 2013, I designed the “Crafted by You” collection of crochet jewellery kits. In 2014, I turned my crochet hook to leather, and I haven’t looked back since!

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been a few for me!  The award for the Best New Jewellery Design and Best New Product Awards for my crochet necklace “Grace” at Ireland’s leading Craft Design Exhibition “Showcase” in 2011. 

The opportunity then to present this prize-winning necklace to First Lady Michelle Obama on her visit to Ireland in 2011.  Then to receive a beautiful letter of thanks from the First Lady herself!

In the Fall 2011 edition of Vogue Knitting International, my design was recognised as “… the genius of liberating traditional Irish crochet motifs…”


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Displayed on top catwalks in London, Paris, and New York with leading designers.

HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

Style and quality nurtured in hand and worth every penny!

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Christian Dior.  To see one of my necklaces or belts sitting on the ultimate little black dress? Perfection!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It is simply superb how the creation of WearingIrish links Irish design talent of every level, ready to be discovered. Irish fashion is now being displayed around the world and understood to be more than green shamrocks and lace.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone who understands and appreciates quality and style! 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Every design begins with one crochet hook and some leather cord.  Then a selection of crochet stitches with a selection of hooks and cords.  Different stitches and colours compliment different shapes.

HOW DOES A SENSE OF PLACE INFORM YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS— SPECIFICALLY IRELAND?

Every time I go for a walk, I am looking around and notice so much that I haven’t seen before!  Tremendous architecture, window shapes, decorative fanlights over main doors, decorative iron gates, colours, and more. There’s a lot to re-create in leather and crochet.

WHAT DOES BEING IRISH MEAN TO YOU AND IN WHAT WAY HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR CREATIONS? 

Being Irish is special to me. Where else would I have discovered all I can now do with a few needles and material of so many forms.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Drop Necklace with Silver Bead. Here is a leather crochet necklace dressed with unique silver findings and a wonderful silver ball crafted by fellow Irish designer, Inga Reed. This design has earned me significant honours including a listing on the Irish Premium Craft Portfolio in 2012, finalist in the Golden Egg Fashion Innovation Awards 2011, and selection for show at the Solus Nua exhibition of contemporary Irish Arts in Washington DC, 2011.  

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My walking shoes, my golf clubs, and a taste of chocolate!

TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THAT I DIDN’T ASK.

I love to walk every day!