Meet The Designers

MEET THE DESIGNERS | TAHNEE MORGAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit tahneemorgandesigns.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am the youngest of seven children, brought up in Drogheda, Co Louth, opposite the river Boyne. As a child, I knew I could see and understand things that others couldn’t. My mother knew of my gift but told me to keep it secret. For years, I did. I studied fashion and trained as a milliner, like my grandparents. I was lucky and was often featured on TV and in films and magazines, but denying my gift made me unwell, and finally, I understood that I needed to set it free—in my life and my creative work.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

May 2009, following an operation, I began to feel very unwell. In the ambulance, I left my body and went to a place of light and beauty, where I felt my deceased father’s energy coming through. However, I knew I couldn’t stay. I fought to get back to my body, to my family. I was told that I could leave, but that on earth, I must work with the angels. I said I would. I opened myself to them and, soon after, added a range of spiritual jewelry and luxury scarves to my milliner designs.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

7th Heaven designs are not just beautiful; they are imbued with the positive healing powers of the cosmic energy I channel when creating them; because of that, I would love everyone to know them and wear them.

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

In everything I do, I try to bring the grace and goodness of the angels together with the beauties of the Irish landscape.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

The name—7th Heaven—was spiritually given to me by Archangel Michael, when I was shown the colours of the seven archangels and inspired to create with their energy.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

No one person encapsulates what I do and believe in, except perhaps Mother Nature. Although seeing Minister Josepha Madigan wear the 7th Heaven Green Angel Raphael wrap scarf and bracelets for St Patrick’s Day 2019 in Japan was a particularly proud and beautiful moment.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I am already in deep spiritual collaboration with the angels; that is enough for me.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The passion of WearingIrish to showcase the best of this beautiful country’s designs resonates with my desire to bring this to a broader audience.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone who feels the pull of Ireland, through their bloodline or their imagination.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Each design begins as a story waiting for me to tell it; I work through exotic detailed embroidery, bejeweled fabrics, and crystals, but most of all, I work with the energy of the angels and the earth.

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

To quote George Bernard Shaw, “Ireland is like no other place under Heaven.” We are a nation of healers and thinkers, and I am always inspired by the people and the natural wonders of this ancient land.

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

It means everything: who I am, what I believe, how I respond to the world around me; I try to reflect the energy of this country in everything I create.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

7th Heaven is about positive colours and spiritual associations. One much-loved item is the Archangel Michael bracelet, representing protection, strength and courage.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family gatherings, yummy bread from The Foods of Athenry, and the magical views from the Ring of Kerry.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

One of my Angel Gabriel wrap scarves, with a matching Angel Gabriel freshwater pearl beaded bracelet, and a pair of handmade pearl earrings.

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

I can’t live without Kerrygold butter on my potatoes!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KDK

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Keira and Dairine Kennedy.

Visit kdk.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

We came to the fashion business late, having spent most of our careers working in the corporate world—Dairine still does—but we saw a gap for something we felt was missing. We love to get dressed up for events, but it can feel a bit soulless just dressing up in outfits that hold no huge meaning, and when we couldn’t find scarves in the right colours to pull an outfit together, we created our own. Each of our scarves is a recreated scene from a landscape or moment with significance to us from a street in Cork to a beautiful tree in Connemara, even an everyday scene of Dublin cobble streets. And it feels so special to wear something that has a memory attached or a story to tell.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The day KDK was part of the Night of Irish Fashion, a show hosted by the London Irish Centre. We were joined by all the Council of Irish Fashion designers, but it was a real ‘aha’ moment where we felt our collection had progressed, it was no longer digital print scarves when we saw how beautifully our photographs digitally printed on cashmere sweaters and silk kaftans, it felt really right.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

We want the brand to expand worldwide.

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

To translate the absolute beauty of the Irish landscape into wearable art. We want to continue creating products for people that they really love; there is emotion attached to our designs, the wearer gets more than something tangible when they wear KDK.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Our names! Keira and Dairine Kennedy—KDK.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

We have a fondness for Penelope Cruz and Blake Lively so to see either of them in a KDK piece would make us extra happy.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

We love Charlotte Olympia—her quirky designs are not only beautifully crafted but innovative, colourful, and most of all, fun.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

To see Irish talent and craft portrayed in a contemporary way is so inspiring. It’s incredible to see heritage craft and design from Ireland being promoted, but it is what people are accustomed to seeing, WearingIrish showcases how cutting-edge we can be amongst other global players.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Well, who wouldn’t want Michelle Obama to wear their designs? She’s fabulous in every way.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

We are constantly snapping—places, things, landscapes. Then, we play around with the images and see what designs we can digitally recreate; we tinker with colour, shapes, sizes—this can take weeks on a single design until we get it right. Then, we have to sample how it looks on different fabrics until we get it just right.

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

Our approach is simple; we take snaps of key Irish landmarks, unique places we’ve visited or even just beautiful, fleeting moments in time—then digitally remaster the photography and combine it with super-luxe cashmere yarns and playful colours. We want people’s memories of these special Irish places to last for more than just a moment, so their clothes have meaning, and a story to tell, which is the essence of Irishness in itself.

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

Ireland is known for its creative thinking, music, art, writing, and poetry—it’s in our veins, our Grandfather was also a painter—so we appreciate the artistic beauty in all of these things, that’s the essence of KDK.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted by our customers is the Waterfall full-length silk kaftan; the most coveted by us is the Poolbeg pink scarf that doubles-up as a cool summer sarong.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

A good mascara, a KDK scarf, and a spritz of perfume.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

At the moment, it’s the versatility of our mini silk scarves. In any one day, I can style one in my tied-back hair or wrap it around my wrist or the handle of my bag.

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

I have always been a keen horse rider. I represented Ireland in Horse Riding in the World Student Games.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JOANNA KAMINSKA

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit jokamin.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’m an artist/designer originally from Poland. My background is in languages and journalism; however, my career isn’t typical. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs including for an advertisement agency, a jewelry company and a gynecologist In New York. In 2005, I came to Ireland, had two sons and Ireland became our home.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Every step advances me in what I am doing. It is a slow process, and there are no shortcuts, but there is progress! As an artist, it is an honor to have my work in the National Gallery of Ireland shop. Also, being selected for the Brown Thomas CREATE 2019 showcase is very special.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To bring inspiration and happiness to my customers and steadily grow my customer base.

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

JOKAMIN is about looking for magic in every aspect of life. As an artist, I aim to speak a universal language that can be understood by everyone.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

JOKAMIN is an abbreviation of my first and last name.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

There are so many inspirational people around the world that it is hard to choose. I heard that one of my scarves was bought for Isabella Rossellini when she was filming in Dublin—that made me very happy because she is a style icon whom I admire.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to design a scarf for Hermès for obvious reasons, and I would love to collaborate with designers such as those from Gucci and Vivienne Westwood, to name but a few!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It’s a great initiative to support Irish creativity, and I applaud it!

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I don’t have any specific person in mind, but it would be great if people around the globe see Irish designs as being of such high quality and creativity that they are willing to pay for them.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I tell stories through my art, and when I work on a new design, it is a similar process. We are all connected, and I believe we experience similar challenges. Whatever I experience, or I see I throw it down on paper. However, if I am working on a scarf, I am more design-driven with colours and design placement.

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

I need nature to recharge. What I love in Ireland is that the landscape is peaceful and does not change drastically. I dislike visual chaos, and I find that there is harmony here.  I hope that Irish people realize how lucky they are to be surrounded by such scenery, and they should protect it.

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

Being Irish means being accepted and welcomed; living in Ireland has given me the freedom to create.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It’s funny but my very first scarf design “Marionettes” has an extraordinary place in my collection. People are drawn to it. Maybe because of the colours—a blend of grey-blues, yellow ochre, orange, and white—or perhaps because of the theme? Everyone feels like a marionette at times.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Air, movement and creating.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Be yourself, wear what you love and what makes you happy.

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

Three times a week, I train in Aikido martial art. It keeps me healthy and helps me deal with life.  Last year I achieved my black belt in Aikido, so I’m proud of that.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | SIMON BARBER

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit designireland.ie/designers/simon-barber-jewellery for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

We have a family-run jewellery shop in Fermoy, Co. Cork that has been in business since 1869. I have grown up around it; always tinkering in the workshop. I studied art and then horology (watchmaking) before returning to the shop. I started developing my pieces in my spare time, and things grew from there.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

My first trade show three years ago when I started supplying other shops.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

World domination.

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

Simple, elegant and different.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It’s nice to see someone showcasing all the small independent Irish makers who are quietly working away, and if they’re anything like me, not particularly good at self-promotion.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Walks and canoeing by the river have always been my way of clearing my head, and I often return home with the start of an idea.

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

I have always lived where I live, so knowing what is particularly different about being Irish is hard to say, it’s just the way I am. Having said that, there must be some cultural influence that seeps into you. Many people have said that my work is very Irish.

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

I never intended to make anything “Irish-y,” but people often say that they see Irish influence in my work.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Moonshine pendant.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Roast potatoes, Swiss Army knife, and a hat.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Old wool army trousers and a waistcoat, at least that’s what I have been wearing for years now.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | PAUL COSTELLOE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit paulcostelloe.com for more!




WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The first time visiting Princess Diana at Kensington Palace to dress her for an upcoming trip to India. When I walked into the drawing room looking out over Hyde Park, I was so thrilled.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To realise Paul Costelloe as a truly global fashion brand.

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

Material and texture. Only by understanding the origin of a fabric, its composition and the personal stories in it can we craft something customers will love and cherish.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Myself.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

Anyone who has a sense of humour.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

To be a costume designer for a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Christopher Bale.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland is now deservedly getting recognised for its young design talent, and the WearingIrish movement has a vital role to play in driving this recognition.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone. I am proud to wear Irish brands and materials, but prices must be competitive.

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

Ireland plays a big role in my creative thinking—working with Irish materials (linens and tweeds) and the landscapes of Ireland that I am constantly painting.

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

It helps to keep me grounded and realistic.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A red military coat from my Autumn/Winter 2019-20 womenswear catwalk collection.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My wife, my children, and my paint brush.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

For men, a white scarf to be an individual.

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

I failed most exams at school and didn’t even take my leaving cert exams.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | SOUL ENGRAVER

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit soulengraver.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

As a master hand engraver and jewellery designer for over 20 years, I have dedicated my life’s work to creating meaningful jewellery that inspires deep connections between people, the land, and the heritage of Ireland. Having served a six-year apprenticeship (rather a long time ago). I am one of a small band of true artisans in this field. Using classical hand engraving techniques that date back to the Renaissance, I apply dedication to the art, attention to detail and a sensitivity that is key to creating such unique jewellery with real meaning.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I was the master hand engraver for Weir & Sons for over 15 years. Working there I had the privilege to work on many prestigious things, most notably the Webb Ellis Trophy (Rugby World Cup). Upon leaving Ireland’s premier jewellery retailer, I launched the Soul Engraver brand with two collections, namely Resonate and Sacred Trees. The brand featured at Showcase 2018 run by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in the RDS. Soul Engraver picked up a coveted award for best new product, from a field of over 100+ startup companies. A week later, I was invited to meet An Taoiseach at City Hall—a very proud moment.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To stay authentic and create stunningly beautiful pieces from the heart that touch the soul.  It is our ambition to be the Irish jewellery brand synonymous with creating deep connections between people. Quality and uniqueness should be a benchmark for any brand.

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

While people love beauty, beauty alone doesn’t make a piece special—it’s about meaning. People give beautiful meanings to the things they love. It’s about marking moments in the stream of time, about love itself. In those many hours, and days, and years that I sat inscribing love into metal, an idea took shape. What if first you took the meaning, and then from that, you created the thing?

Creating deep connections between people and Irish jewellery with real meaning is the heart and soul of the brand.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Funnily enough, people assume I am the Soul Engraver, but as the master craftsperson, I merely give people a voice for what they would like to say to others (or what they would like to say about themselves). So, I am not the Soul Engraver. The person who gives the gift is the Soul Engraver. They have put so much thought into the gift/piece; it is they who will leave a mark on the receiver’s soul.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

Margaret Molloy is an inspiration to us all and wears Irish so well.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

We have been fortunate to collaborate with Weir & Sons, Dublin and most recently the extremely exclusive Adare Manor, Limerick. Fulfilling the needs of all our customers is of importance. With every collaboration, we live a dream.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

We can see a lot of synergies between our brands. The WearingIrish movement fundamentally inspires deep connections between people, the land, and the heritage of Ireland.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone! There is a little bit of Ireland in us all.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

For our ready-to-wear collections, we are united by a common theme—a connection to a land and its people, it is a living and breathing culture. It’s about being rooted—in relationships, in nature, in a personal and collective history. Together, we are stronger.

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

We are incredibly creative people and always have been. The people, the land, and the heritage of Ireland have influenced everything we do.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, family, and family.

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

Labhraim Gaeilge!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | EMER ROBERTS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit emerroberts.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I received my MFA in Sculpture with NCAD, Dublin in 2009. Since then, I have collaborated with culinary artists/philosophers MOUTH for conceptual banquets while working continuously in my studio. There is continuity in the varied projects I have had the privilege of working on. Authenticity is important to me.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Winning three awards consecutively in 2019: I was awarded Accessories Designer of the Year in Fashion and Textiles with the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) and Best Product in the Jewellery category at Showcase 2019; I went on to win the Jewellery Designer of the Year award with the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To be recognized for pushing boundaries with strong, original design.

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

An edgy and elegant luxury fine jewellery brand.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name is my name.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

A dream combination of Meret Oppenheim, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Eileen Gray. They were all forces of nature in their creative outputs, and for their individual aesthetics, which appeals to me.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

One such as Lee McQueen for his conceptual fine art intentions in fashion.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It is a potent opportunity to reveal contemporary Irish design to the international marketplace.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Those who appreciate quality art, craft, and design.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am up at daybreak and very content in the studio, designing as I create. My process varies with the architectural/art deco designs or the divergent Wearable Biology fine jewellery. With the wearable art designs, I work from my moulds and cast and manipulate in wax. Or deconstruct metals to reimagine new architectural pieces.

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

Waterstown Park, one of the most ecologically important parks in Dublin, was our extended back garden growing up. Close to the Phoenix Park, we had the best of city and country. My father brought his love of (Westmeath) country life to Dublin, breeding a variety of animals. This informed my fine arts practice which revolved around the mammal, similarity between species and the institutional space.

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

To me, being Irish is to be good-humoured and decent. Coming from a large, creative family provides an ever-evolving influence to never take myself too seriously in pursuit of authenticity.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My current Art Nouveau-inspired Jaw collection from the Wearable Biology, wearable art designs. Cast from the lower jaw of the rat, it is edgy in subject matter and elegant in execution and embodies the essence of my brand.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Thinking art, creating art and my little warrior daughter.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Stand tall.

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

I have one green eye and one blue eye.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | ELAINE KEOGH

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit elainekeogh.co.uk for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I grew up in the Georgian town of Birr, in the midlands of Ireland. I started millinery ten years ago while attending LCF before starting my official traditional training under Rose Cory MBE, (Royal Warrant holder for 47 years), my training lasted four years. Following this, I studied Sustainable Fashion in the Netherlands for one year.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

In 2016, I was chosen to launch my winter collection in Brown Thomas under the CREATE initiative, and this was an incredible achievement as the theme was sustainability and the focus of my new brand at the time.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I am undergoing research into new ways of making Elaine Keogh a more sustainable brand by looking deep into my supply chain work on projects that will incorporate positive change in the industry, sourcing fabrics responsibly, including Irish made fabrics.

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

My brand combines traditional craftsmanship and slow fashion to create responsible, quality, timeless hats that are a little hug for your head.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name is my first name, Elaine, which is a version of my mother’s name, Helen, and my family name Keogh, whose crest is a lion, an emblem of deathless courage with a hand which symbolizes faith, sincerity, and justice, so ELAINE KEOGH is a true Irish family brand.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

Meryl Streep as she uses the platform she has to give women all over the world a voice. I make hats for strong women like her.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Zac Posen—for his ability to allow his fabrics to whisper his designs to the world.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The Wearing Irish movement inspires me because it was set up by a strong Irish woman, Margaret, who has given a platform to Irish designers in the US and is connecting people through fashion.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Michelle Obama, she is married to an Irish man after all!

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

In 2015, I set up at Belmont Mill, Co. Offaly, an incredible 18th-century building, and gardens set in the wild landscape of the boglands. Inspired by the sparseness of the surrounding area during the winter months and the chaos of the wildflowers during the summer months each collection is born. The structural design of each hat reflects the scenery in rural Ireland and each hat trades excessive detailing for a purity of design, emphasizing a gentlewoman style.

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

I am incredibly proud of our heritage and culture and the high standard of craftsmanship around our country. While I have traveled for studies, I have always been drawn back to the midlands of Ireland where I am most inspired.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A hat named “Harriet.” I always know a Harriet client. She is a powerful lady—ever daring, sophisticated and stylish.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Burt’s Bees lip balm, sunglasses and a silk turban.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A silk turban is great to dress up or down and is known to turn fuzzy hair silky soft.

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

I love numbers: I am the youngest of seven children, the fifth girl and the ninth in our family. I incorporate these numbers into every collection I do—the number of petals in a flower, pattern pieces, or the amount of hats in each collection.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | PAUL GALVIN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

 I am one of a family of seven from Lixnaw, County Kerry. I play a lot of sport especially hurling and Gaelic football. I studied Arts in UCC and taught for almost ten years before authoring and editing my autobiography which was published in 2014. 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Publishing my first story with Dunnes Stores. It was called Vanguard and told the story of vanguard soldiers at the forefront of military formations. It also reflected those moments as a footballer standing to attention for Amhrán na bhFiann before big matches when I felt like I was at the vanguard of a movement.   

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To bring culture and meaning to menswear, to include more men in the conversation, to educate through storytelling.

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

Wearable culture, masculinity, and meaning.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name is my own name but each story or collection—Vanguard, Push, Born Mad, Mister, Shelby, Bogman, Raglan, Tattooed Man, Équipe, Scaffolder—could be brands in their own right.  

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

Language is a muse. My Spring 2020 collection is called Scaffolder. It tells the story of Mohed Altrad but the most interesting part for me is the collection name itself.  

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Art Comes First. Adidas. JW Anderson. Bjarke Ingels. Es Devlin. Annie Mac. Mohed Altrad. Cillian Murphy. Kanye West. Jackie Nickerson. Luke Kelly. Samuel Beckett. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Its positivity and intent to promote and support Irish business and creativity. 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Michael Fassbender. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I regularly run with a pen in my shorts so as to take notes when I stop for a coffee. I observe and absorb my surroundings and think about language. I refer to my dictionary app daily. When the right word comes to me for a collection name, everything else comes together.  I read a lot. Raf Simons speaks of incubation time for ideas. This is very important but requires silence and solitude which isn’t easy to come by.

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

If you are a cultural storyteller, then place is everything. I come from the bogs of north Kerry. I have referenced boglands, bog culture, bog architecture, bog music, turf, peat briquettes, and sleáns in my Bogman collection. I think that says it all about the importance of place in my work. 

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

I have been influenced for collections by the National Anthem, Michael & John Walker, Samuel Beckett, Patrick O’Connell, Cillian Murphy, Tom De Paor, Luka Bloom, The Dubliners, James F. O’Connell—all culturally important, masculine and Irish, through and through. Unfortunately, the “fashion” world excludes masculinity in many ways. I’m trying to carve out a place and a brand for men, Irish or otherwise. 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Flat caps. Then print storytelling pieces; peat briquette print shirts, Luke banjo print shirt, Dancing Man print shirt.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My wife, daughter and family. 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Good proportions. 

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

I speak fluent Irish.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | RITE WHITE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit rita-white.myshopify.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My background is in nursing and psychology. I am intrigued by the human condition and our ability to grow, transform and become whatever we desire to be. I studied fashion design and eventually, I earned my degree in art & design textiles from the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in 2012 as a mature student.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

To date, I think it would be winning the Accessories Designer of the Year Award at The Irish Fashion Innovation Awards 2019. It was a great honor to be acknowledged by one’s peers and those who know fashion.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I love fashion design, and I’d like to see my prints on garment separates such as dresses and tops and to reach a wider global audience.

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

The heart and soul of my brand is to brighten someone’s day with a colourful, inspirational and luxurious piece that makes them feel and look great.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

It’s simply my name with “art” added to the end.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would be a strong, mature, iconic woman representing strength and embracing maturity with style and integrity such as Oprah, Helen Mirren, and Jane Fonda.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Hermès, of course, would be the dream, as they love and appreciate art and the story on their stunning scarves; to design for them would be a dream come true.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Margaret Molloy is so very stylish and fashionable herself that one is delighted and honored to see her wear and style one’s pieces so well and creatively, often in ways and places that bring new life to one’s product.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Sourcing fabrics, manufacturing, and printing often have to be sourced outside the country, meaning a lot of time, finance, research, and dedication is required. All this is evident in the uniqueness of our products. I want the whole world to wear and appreciate Irish.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

My hand drawings are scanned and worked on in Photoshop where they come alive with color, becoming a unique design with a depth of meaning. They are then printed onto the best thick silks and finished with a hand rolled hem.

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

My drawings are inspired by what’s around me, such as people watching or after a walk among nature. I may draw amazing shapes and colours that evolve into abstract birds and plants, all of which are from uniquely Irish experiences in our quaint streets and countryside.

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

We are fortunate to absorb our amazing landscape and we have some great cultural traits such as friendliness, empathy, and genuineness—all of which I hope is evident in my work.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

I love the “Birds Wearing Shoes” design, as these birds drawn from my imagination have developed into little characters that want to wear shoes to express their individuality. Some appear as abstract robins or other Irish birds, and they are communicating with each other in a human way. It’s such fun, and there is exceptional detail in each character with its unique shoe design.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

 I hope I never have to live without chats with Laura, friends and fresh air.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A beautiful silk scarf transforms any outfit.

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

I want to live and work in America and bring my Irish designs to New York.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LINDA WILSON

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit lindawilsonknitwear.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a BA in fashion and design in 1993. After working in the knitwear industry in Ireland for several years, I established my label in 2000. In addition to managing my business, I also teach the fashion knitwear and textile course in LSAD.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I have so many, but one would be arriving in Dublin a couple of years ago and discovering an image of one of my jumpers on a billboard outside the RDS!


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To continue to create contemporary knitwear that is inspired by and produced in Ireland but selling worldwide.

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

Growing up in rural Donegal, I am passionate about the stunning landscape I took for granted as a child. In every collection, I strive to pay homage to the colour and texture that surrounds me every time I go home.  

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Issey Miyake for his use of technology in his fabrics, and Delpozo for their use of colour and structure.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland has a wealth of designers, and the WearingIrish movement has brought Irish design onto the world platform.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I love taking photos of anything and everything. My process always starts with these images. Usually, it’s a texture or a pattern that has caught my eye and inspires my process. From these images, I swatch allowing my fabrics and use of colour to lead the direction of the collection. 

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

Inspired by the rich tapestry of our Irish heritage, I strive in my designs to be evocative of the past but with a contemporary step into the future. Through observing what has gone before, as a designer, I endeavor to create garments that celebrate our sense of place and uniqueness.

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

It is fundamental to my business, and I am proud that every piece I create is designed and made in Ireland.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My tie blossom scarf. It has been in the collection now for several years, and it continues to grow in demand.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My camera, color and coffee.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Wear what makes you happy!

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

While I am passionate about knitwear, I sadly am an atrocious hand knitter!!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | EIMEAR LYNCH

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Eimear Lynch of Ella Green Jewellery.

Visit ellagreenjewellery.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I have always adored jewelry and have been designing and making it since I was a little girl, my mind’s eye full of treasures due to countless retellings of Arabian Nights and the Brothers Grimm. As a child, I was constantly taking jewelry apart to reassemble it a different way.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Getting Ella Green stocked in Dublin’s DesignYard. I’ve always admired the store and never dreamed I could one day be there with such an amazing selection of Irish and European designers. They are fantastic to work with, and I look forward to bringing new pieces to them each year.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To develop relationships with and be stocked by my favorite American stores: Roseark, Catbird, and Twist.

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

Ella Green is fearless, peerless, and precious.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

My daughter’s name is Ella, and I am obsessed with green, the color of nature!


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Saoirse Ronan because she is self-possessed, intelligent, doesn’t take herself too seriously and always looks immaculate but left-of-center, which I love.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to collaborate with American artist Ashley Longshore as she is brilliant, loud, brash and I think I think it would be brilliant fun and challenging to work with an artist with such a different style to mine!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It’s a great example of using the power of social media for something positive and life-affirming, and it just so happens to have been launched from the other side of the planet from the Irish themselves—how lucky are we?!

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Start with Irish people wearing more Irish and expand the movement from there—we can all be ambassadors for each other. Having documentaries like “The True Cost” highlight the terrible human and environmental costs of fast fashion is brilliant. The world’s collective fashion IQ is rising, and this is vital for the future of our planet. One of the upsides for Irish design is that consumers can feel good about choosing small batch design out of countries such as Ireland.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

It often starts with a dream or image that comes crashing through when I’m almost asleep or meditating and NOT trying to conjure anything. Then, I fashion a drawing or prototype in plastic or silver, and it goes through several Irish artisans; casters, setters, polishers before making its debut!

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

We’re all citizens of the world now in a global marketplace. However, the beauty of Ireland is always present in my creative process. Everything Ella Green is imagined, designed and 100% made in Ireland. Ireland is baked into my Ella Green’s DNA.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our Freedom Amazonian ring, inlaid with malachite, onyx and opal on hammered 14k yellow gold studded with tsavorite garnet. It is one-of-a-kind, so when it is gone, it’s gone!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Jewelry with stories and meaning, family and Apollo the cat.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My mother always said, “Invest in a good coat and bag.” She was right, so I have!

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

I used to play the trumpet!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | EDEL MACBRIDE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit edelmacbride.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born the eldest (and shortest) of six children in the one-horse, seven-church village of Convoy in Donegal. I was inspired creatively at home—my mum knit, so I learned to knit and sew, and I helped at my granny Margaret’s busy dressmaking studio.

I completed foundation art at LYIT Letterkenny and fashion design at LSAD Limerick. I was a fashion intern at Neiman Marcus in Boston while studying entrepreneurship at Boston College. Years of making, wholesaling, retailing and consulting followed under my Edel MacBride label in both Derry and Donegal. In 2010, I founded Knitfield to conserve local skills through sharing knowledge.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Winning “Knitwear Designer of the Year” at the Late Late Show Fashion Awards in 1995.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Excellence and evolution of sustainable knitwear using more 100% Irish provenance product. I want to monetize our design rich pattern archive of thirty years, too.

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

A desire to rebirth a local textile tradition in a sustainable manner.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

My brand, Edel MacBride, is my maiden name. I huff if the Ais left out of MacBride.

Knit-field embodied a feeling of freedom to indulge a craft dream for me.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

After watching “A Star is Born,” I found myself drawn to Barbra Streisand.

I love that Streisand’s manager of over fifty years, Marty Erlichman, was the one who made the Clancy brothers wear their white Aran sweaters on the Ed Sullivan Show.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I have been a Levi’s fan since my teenage years and loved their collaboration with Liberty print and feel they are tagging craft well to their brand heritage. I have ideas and have always loved patches!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

From the beginning, the simplicity of vision and lack of dogma made #WearingIrish an attractive mission to me—plus I believe in the power of a busy woman to get the job done.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Supportive customers over the decades aside, I wish more Irish in Ireland would believe in #WearingIrish. We need to offer the engaged diaspora more choice and more effortless fulfillment, too.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I constantly handknit swatches and fill notebooks with doodles. My studio combines hand framed knitting with highly skilled handknitting and crochet.

I like to design with a particular brief but expect artistic freedom. My sixth sense takes over in predicting great combinations of texture, colour, stitch reference and shape. I have learned to trust my judgment and look less at trends.

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

As an Irish knitwear designer, place has been both an inspiration and a drawback.I am very grateful for skills learned young, but initially, my call was to a world of fashion as defined by my diva-like aunts in the 1970s. Aran knitting, for example, was a ‘genre’ I was running from or at times, trying to change.

But eventually, the grasshopper became the master. Time and opportunity awakened within me a love for this unique Irish design language. I believe my role is to carry the torch and make it relevant, making the very best Aran handknits in the world and to #KeepIrelandKnitting.

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

Being Irish means different things in different places. However, I found a new alignment with my cultural identity by exhibiting at Milwaukee Irish Fest in 2011. People were so vocal and encouraging about the skill and quality of my work. I return every year for a confidence boost!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A Kelly green handknit Adam-Eve hoodie in a merino and mohair blend, spun in Donegal.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family, the clear Donegal air and the Derry sense of humor.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My grandmother always said, “Show off your best bits”.

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

A humblebrag is my thank you letter from Hillary Clinton, personally signed after their first visit to Derry in November 1995. I still remember the postman’s quizzical look at the large White House stamped envelope.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JOHN SHEVLIN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with John Shevlin of Shevlin Millinery.

Visit shevlin.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Shevlin Millinery started in 1960, in Dublin, as P.Shevlin Ltd, Millinery Manufacturers. It was a hat making company started by my late father. I grew up with hats around me; I also spent a few years in general clothing production, the experience of which has remained with me to this day.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I think it was probably getting the contract to design and produce the Aer Lingus uniform hat for the couturier Ib Jorgensen’s uniform design in the ’80s. It was a more substantial contract than I had expected, and I had a panic moment wondering how I was going to produce the initial order!

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition for my designs is to create and produce quality hats that can be worn for both everyday wear and special occasions worldwide.

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

I think the heart and soul of my brand is the passion I have for producing what I produce.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

The brand name comes from my family name, Shevlin.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

It would have to be Jean Butler, because she is a most glamorous Irish ambassador.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with Liberty London.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WEARINGIRISH movement is a fantastic promoter of Irish fashion and jewellery.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

All ladies and gentlemen who appreciate modern-day Irish quality.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

My creative process starts with a shape in my mind and not with a pen and paper. Hats are about the silhouette, and I prefer to work directly with the material and to experiment with the ideas in my head.

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

My sense of place is vital to me, being Irish and proud to be Irish. I have never really wanted to live in another country, and home is where the heart is, as they say. I want to be known as an Irish designer and maker of hats that have both local and international appeal.

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

Being Irish for me is very important as the Irish have a strong identity and history. In my hat making career, I have a strong history, and I’m proud of that. Ireland has become a leader on the world stage in several areas, and for such a small country we have a vast global influence in all walks of life. I also want to be a leader in my field.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in my collection is my leopard print classic trilby.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Good food, good company…and a good sewing machine!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

The trick is to look at how a hat looks on a real head; failing that, seeing how it looks on a head and shoulders bust.

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

I am well known as a James Joyce lookalike, and I’m the most photographed person on Bloomsday!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | CLARE O’CONNOR

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit clareoconnor.net for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am an artist/designer with a background in graphic design. I’ve studied design & visual arts practice, both to degree level, graduating in 2001with a BDES and in 2009with a BA. I have lived, worked and exhibited in Berlin and Venice.I launched my brand of wearable art in January 2018.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

In Berlin, I worked as an artist assistant for Thomas Kilpper on his State of Control project. We had access to all areas to the former GDR Ministry for State Security headquarters; Thomas carved 90 artworks into the lino floor of the 1,600 sqm canteen. I managed the studio space and helped Thomas prepare, ink up and create large-scale prints from the carved floor. Such a fantastic project to be part of.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I plan to expand my accessories range and create a full RTW collection and a select range of household special editions, which will be available through selected luxury stores worldwide.

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

My brand and my creative practice are all about colour, energy, and positivity. I aim to create a brand that empowers us to be ourselves, uplifts us and makes us feel good.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

My brand name is my name. I did consider using my great grandmother’s name Brabazon as it is a unique surname, but I like the way Clare O’Connor is distinctively Irish; I think that is an integral part of my brand as it is my heritage and I am very proud of that.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would have to be Saoirse Ronan. She is so natural, elegant and has an effortless style with an edgy, quirky side too, which I love.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to collaborate with Dunnes Stores; I love the way they have upped their game. They have worked with a selection of Ireland’s top designers, which celebrates, promotes and supports Irish design, bringing awareness and giving the general public access to quality, contemporary Irish design.   

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is encouraging people to buy and wear Irish and be genuinely appreciative and aware of the fantastic quality and diversity we have available to us through Irish designers.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I take inspiration from my paintings and prints. I like to layer and work intuitively when I paint, so I combine splashes of paint, drips, stripes, collage, tape, patterns and lots of colour.

My paintings result in vibrant, bright pieces that are full of positive energy. I aim to communicate a heightened sense of power, which uplifts us. I then take photos of my paintings, and I use sections for my designs and import them into Photoshop, where I sometimes layer them further or use them as they are.

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

I live in Meath, and I have a great connection to Tara—I go there every week for meditation, to recharge, centre and align my energies, and I try to channel those energies through my work.

Irish people had deep spiritualism, like the Native Americans, which was muddied and disregarded by patriarchal Christian colonialism. However, a lot of people are reconnecting with that now. The connection I feel to Tara helps me to strengthen my relationship with my inner creativity and helps hugely to focus and develop my creative process. 

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

We are known to be one of the friendliest nations on earth. Everyone generally loves the Irish, and I think that is down to our fun, down-to-earth, open and honest way we communicate and our adaptability. I think that naturally comes through my work, as my style is fun, dynamic, eclectic, and full of positive energy.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My signature large scarves. They are so versatile and wearable, bringing luxury to everyday life.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Painting, my cats and Chanel perfume.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Layering. I love dresses over jeans and trousers or jumpers over dresses and of course, always finished off with a scarf.

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

To finance my life and my creativity, I have worked in many exciting jobs along the way: the Venice Biennale, a tour guide, a painting assistant for Anselm Reyle; a travel writer for National Geographic, but the most fun was working as a celebrant. I once married a lovely couple on a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice—we must have been in thousands of tourists’ photos!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AND TATE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Sharon Hoey of Andtate.

Visit andtate.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in Dublin and live here with my husband (business partner) and three sons. I began my career at the Grafton Academy Dublin and started my fashion business in 1985. I have had the business all my working life, and I am very excited about my new brand—Andtate shirts.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

It was closing a deal to stock a chain of top UK stores in 2000. It changed our business entirely and allowed us to think like a big business, to grow and experiment with new markets and products.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

To build Andtate Shirts into a successful global brand.

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

Real shirts for real women who appreciate sustainable luxury fashion.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

The And of Andtate is my father-in-law’s initials, a very dapper dresser born in 1906.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

I don’t have any one person in mind; I am inspired by so many people who are driven to succeed on their chosen paths in business, sport, and the arts.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

A Vogueshoot with Isabella Rossellini, Jane Fonda, Queen Rania of Jordan, Meghan Markle, and Saoirse Ronan as they are all incredible women of different ages and talents who look amazing in white shirts!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The simplicity of the concept and how one person can highlight the wealth of design and talent that is in Ireland, but largely undiscovered around the world. 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I would like to see more people buy less but choose better. As Irish products are of a very high standard of quality and design, they are the perfect choice for all markets.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I have never found it easy; I never seem to have a pencil at the ready when I get an idea. I start each season under pressure, but somehow 30 odd years later I always make the deadlines. A rope to tie me to the chair, a pen and paper in a quiet space are how I begin!

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

I work in the capital. I love Dublin and need the buzz of cities. I absorb my ideas as I’m going about my business, but it’s down in wild west Cork where I can get some space to draw and sketch that my creative process starts. I escape to my sanctuary there as often as possible.

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

I feel Irish, particularly when abroad. I love that we have an exceptional heritage in handcrafted designs—linen, wool, glass, tweed, leather, etc. and I often look to our past for design influence.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The first shirt I designed for Andtate.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Chanel No 5, red lipstick and white wine.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

A good blow-dry, red lipstick and a statement bag.

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

I love all aspects of building. I’m fascinated by structure and sometimes wish I had studied engineering.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MARY ENRIGHT

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Mary Enright of Mary Enright Jewellery.

Visit maryenright.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My formal training was at St. John’s College Cork followed by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. After several years of industry experience, I launched my ME Jewellery brand in 2010 and opened a design studio and retail outlet in Kinsale, Co. Cork.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Moving to New York. It was a difficult decision to close my store and relocate, but it was a huge opportunity too, and one that I couldn’t turn down. Since moving, I have had my work included in New York City Jewelry Week and most recently in the Who’s Who in Visual Art Encyclopedia. More exhibitions and collaborations are on the horizon.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

To increase my profile in the US, building on the industry connections I have made, being recognised for the design and craftsmanship in my work, and most importantly, being known as a creator of beautiful things.  

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

The heart and soul of my brand is simplicity of form and shape, using the materials to create effects of light and shade and movement.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My brand name was an easy one, it’s simply called ME. It’s my initials and registered Makers Mark with the Dublin Assay Office.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

My muse has always been Mother Nature, a constant source of artistic inspiration.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I would love to collaborate with Debra Messing. Her appreciation of jewellery as being wearable sculptures, her love of bold colours and statement pieces would allow me the freedom to create a new line without diluting the simplicity in aesthetic of my ME brand, we could call the line Messing & ME.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is a movement born from a passion for promoting the abundance of talented Irish designers in an authentic and natural way.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want everyone to wear Irish. If you look at the WearingIrish design directory, there’s an extensive range of product, styles, and materials—something for everyone.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I design on paper first. Generally, I have an idea in mind if I’m working on a collection and I will refine my sketches until I find “the one.” Once I have finalized what materials to use, I sit at my jewellers bench and create the pieces. My commission work is more collaborative as I am creating a unique piece for a client.

The jewellery I design must hold meaning and memories specific to them. I hope that all the jewellery I create will become treasured possessions and heirlooms in the future.

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

Growing up on the west coast of Ireland, you cannot help but fall in love with nature. It is an everchanging canvas of beauty and has always influenced my work. It is reflected in the colour palate I choose for gemstones, and it is evident in collections like my Wild Irish Rose and Flutterby Butterfly.  

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

To me being Irish means being a storyteller, a romantic and an adventurer.  I believe a sense of romance and storytelling is the essence of the jewellery I create. While my designs are not considered traditionally Celtic, they remain intrinsically Irish. My sense of adventure has continually led me to seek a place and meaning in the wider world and sparked my incredible jewellery journey which has brought me from Cork to New York.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Flutterby Butterfly

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Sketchpad & pencil, coffee with cream, and the ocean (for mind, body and soul).

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Wear one stand-out piece, be it jewellery, a dress, a scarf or bag, and keep the rest simple.

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

The most precious piece of jewellery I own is my grandmother’s wedding ring.

 


MEET THE DESIGNERS | TRACY GILBERT

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Tracy Gilbert of Tracy Gilbert Designs.

Visit tracygilbertdesigns.com for more!




WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Realizing after I made my first Growing Home (Irish roots) piece that there is a market for pieces that are an extension of little aul’ me. I have a huge gráfor the Irish language, Irish history and people who savour their connection to Ireland and my pieces reflect this.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

To keep creating pieces that have a strong meaning attaching to them. It’s so important to me that my pieces resonate with the wearer and make people happy—and if that leads to global domination, then so be it!


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

My dream muse would have to be Saoirse Ronan. A modern Irish icon and so authentic—just watch the Origin Green video on YouTube. Can you imagine a Tracy Gilbert piece around Saoirse’s neck?? I CAN!!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement shows what can be achieved when one’s heart is providing momentum. It’s inspiring to see the impact one person can have on the world by simply deciding to act.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I’m a firm believer in the more the merrier! But Sophie Turner and Meghan Markle spring to mind.

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

My Growing Home Collection epitomizes this.  I see Ireland as a tree with strong roots, continuing to grow and providing a shelter for us and those who will come after us. I’m also inspired by Celtic spirituality and the ancient Irish connection with sunlight, as seen in places like Newgrange. Many of my pieces attempt to recreate the magic of Newgrange by allowing light to shine through them.

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

My Irishness—our language (an Ghaeilge), culture and wild ways—is a key part of my identity. All of my pieces contain at least one of these three key elements.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Fresh air, light and the sea.

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

I’m an actuary by profession who stumbled into jewellery making/design. I followed my heart and haven’t looked back.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | CHUPI

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit chupi.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in the Wicklow Mountains, a region known as the garden of Ireland. Growing up surrounded by so much beauty made me truly appreciate how magical Ireland is.

At 21, I was scouted by Topshop from my first year in college as the youngest designer to ever work for the company. After a six-year career in fast-fashion, I wanted to create something that lasted forever and celebrated Ireland’s incredible design heritage, and so in April 2013 Chupi, the brand was born.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When I started everyone told me I was crazy, that it was impossible to create beautiful jewellery in Ireland and sell it online. Last year we made 24,000 pieces of gold & diamond jewellery in Ireland, sent 9,000 of those around the world and employed 47 people to do it. I can’t imagine a prouder feeling.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

We aspire to be a destination brand that people travel to Ireland for.

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

The heart and soul of the Chupi brand can be found in the jewellery itself: from our ring bands cast from real hawthorn twigs to our hand-stamped pieces, so much love and care have gone into each piece we produce.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Our brand name comes from our founder and CEO’s name, Chupi Sweetman.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

Emma Watson. A champion for beautiful things made with love.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I’m afraid I don’t have one yet!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I adore everything the WearingIrish movement stands for. Ireland has an incredible wealth of creative talent and craftsmanship and is known for its rich design heritage. We are incredibly proud to say that our jewellery is made in Ireland and loved everywhere.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

We started our business in Ireland to celebrate the incredible creativity in Ireland; there is abundant talent here, so Wearing Irish is not only celebrating Ireland but wearing some of the most beautiful pieces too.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I start every collection with a story and sketch. From there, I think about who will wear the piece and what moment it will mark. Sometimes it flows like crazy, and sometimes I sit staring at a blank page. Either way, I find myself—the best, happiest, most challenged and interested version of me.

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

My love for wild and natural things serves as the inspiration behind my designs; I’m so inspired by the imperfect natural beauty of feathers, twigs, and leaves. In the early days, the beauty and strength of swans served as my main inspiration. However, the perfect pieces don’t always present themselves straight away. I collected hundreds of swan feathers before I found the perfect one! Every one of our pieces is made with love, made responsibly, made socially and ethically; that in itself is unique.

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

I’m inspired by growing up in Ireland: the wild landscape, the stories we tell about everything and the incredible warmth and love of our people. It’s easy to be cynical but Ireland is filled with kindness and people who genuinely care; it’s what everyone who comes to visit says, and we should fight like hell to hold onto that magic.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in our collection would have to be the You Me and Magic Grey Diamond Ring. The band is cast in 14k gold from a beautiful hawthorn twig found in the woods of Ireland. Grey diamonds are a little piece of magic, and each one is entirely unique. When you wear a Grey Diamond, you truly have a one in a million gemstone.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My engagement ring, my sketchbook and my husband, Brian!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Style is about joy so wear things that make you happy.

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

My favourite place is in the middle of the mountains. When I’m there, I feel so free and always return ready to change the world.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LENNON COURTNEY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Sonya Lennon of Lennon Courtney.

Visit dunnesstores.com/lennoncourtney for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’ve always been fascinated with fashion, and it was never an option for me to do anything other than work in the industry. Straight after school, I went to work in fashion retail, high-end boutiques and I fine-tuned my love of international brands like Comme des Garcons, Yohji, Ann Demeulemeester, and Rifat Ozbek.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When I was asked to present on Off the Rails on RTE1, everything changed. I had been a commercial stylist for twenty years at that stage, a gun for hire. Suddenly, my profile rose, and I found my power. With that came a desire to have a social impact; Dress for Success Dublin came out of that.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

Dress for Success Dublin gave me the confidence to found Lennon Courtney with Brendan Courtney. We want to spread that message, get to more women, and we are! But there is always room for growth and Lennon Courtney has international relevance, we know that because women wear it all over the world. We want to grow our wonderful tribe of women.


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

We are a brand that offers solutions to professional women who love style but aren’t slaves to it.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It’s our surnames; we had recognition and trust, so we needed that upfront and Lennon Courtney worked better than Courtney Lennon.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

We’re more interested in reality. A celebrity wearing our clothes might be a buzz for a minute but smart women presenting themselves every day and listing what Lennon Courtney they own and love, that’s very gratifying.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I’d like a Lennon Courtney by Cloon Keen scent, please.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I’ve been beating the Irish design drum for over ten years, so to see the vision growing in New York is a wonderful feeling.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Every woman who presents and represents as Irish internationally should be wearing Irish design. There is no excuse; the work is too good.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

We brainstorm inspirations together, from all sources. We build a spine of halo pieces that tell the story of our season, complete with palette, print and texture references. We then generate CAD’s and move to sample. I try on everything to feel the garment on the body.

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

For us, a sense of person is more important than a sense of place. Society is now global. Our woman needs to feel relevant and fit for purpose wherever she is.

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

Being Irish, we are connected with 70 million people worldwide—that is who we are.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It has to be a full-length ivory silk sheath with patch pockets from our first collection.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

A key print dress, a Lennon Courtney knit coat and lipstick.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Get really good core basics and play with your accessories.

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

I believe passionately in supporting (particularly) women to unlock their potential.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | ÁINE BREEN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Áine Breen from Liwu Jewellery.

Visit liwujewellery.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am from north County Wexford. Although I loved art and design in school, at university, I studied commerce and then qualified as a chartered accountant. It was not until I moved to China that I rediscovered my creative side that Liwu Jewellery was born.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

In 2018, Liwu Jewellery was chosen for the “Everyone Wins” Oscars gift bag.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

My ambition for Liwu Jewellery is to be known as the Irish jewellery brand with meaning, and to spread thoughtful, meaningful jewellery throughout the world.

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

The heart of the brand is one of kindness, thoughtfulness, and empowerment through simple design coupled with ancient, meaningful symbolism.  


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

“Liwu” means gift in Chinese.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

My dream collaboration would be with Sam Barry, Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine in the United States. She has a great sense of style; she knows the art of Irish humor and charm and is putting significant issues to the fore with Glamour. I would love to see what we could create together!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I am delighted to see a spotlight shine on all the great talent we have here in Ireland.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone around the world but especially Irish people and people with Irish roots.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

The creative process involves lots of research of signs and symbols and their meanings. Then, I work these symbols into simple sketches of jewellery, then we make the pieces, and there may be many versions until the symbol is perfectly presented in a beautiful way.

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

Ireland is the inspiration behind our Native Collection. When I moved home to Ireland following my time abroad, I was eager to look at our rich ancient history and symbols.

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

I am incredibly proud to be Irish. I appreciate that I have had the opportunity to travel the world and been lucky enough to come back home and do a job I love.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our Serenity Five Fold Symbol pendant is our most popular piece, followed closely by the Three Lucky Stars Three Drop necklace.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My phone (I work on the go a lot), my sketchbook for any inspiration or thoughts I have, and my sunglasses for the changeable weather we get here in the sunny east of Ireland.

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

I design, make and run Liwu Jewellery in a studio located on our family farm by the sea in Wexford, where I live with my husband, young children and several animals.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | FIONA HEANEY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Fiona Heaney of fee G.

Visit feeg.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from NCAD Dublin with 1st class Honours in Fashion Design. I designed for some years in Dublin before moving to Sydney, designing for an Australian brand and The David Jones Group. I returned to Dublin and moved into ladies’ fashion buying before being headhunted to design and launch a new label to market. I left to create my label fee G in 2004. I designed for others in the early stages of fee G before going it alone; I have never looked back since taking the plunge.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I received a phone call from Harvey Nichols, asking to stock fee G. We were the first Irish Brand to be stocked there. It was a huge moment for me, a real sense of how far we had come from a brand I started in my living room. We supply 100+ boutiques every season with my collection.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

To make fee G an internationally successful brand in four different markets (countries) with 200+ stockists.


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

At fee G, we pride ourselves on honesty, passion, and creativity. We have the best team dedicated to bringing the most desirable collections to the boutique customer. As a design company, our goal is to continuously evolve and create exciting collections. As we enter our 15th year, we are as excited about the business as the day we entered it.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My friends call me “fee” and my husband’s name is Don Gormley “G,” so we combined our names and talents and formed the unique brand “fee G.”

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I would love to collaborate with an interior designer, putting the fee G stamp of colour and pattern on interior homes. Using bold prints, colours that pop, comfortable textures, a synergy of what we do with ladies’ fashion.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

As a movement, it means stronger together, supporting a variety of talents; fashion, jewelry, millinery to name a few. It is offering a platform to our wonderful designers and creatives that are good enough to compete on a global level.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone! It’s an all-inclusive movement.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I work on a seasonal collection, every six months delivering a new collection of +75 pieces. I attend shows in Paris and Milan to choose unique fabrics for the season ahead; I love to select new fabrics and colours to use; I never fail to get excited to start on a new collection. I design in-house and with mills to design prints that are exclusive to fee G. This gives fee G a strong sense of identity and individuality. I drape fabrics and use a creative patternmaking process to create new shapes. I love the newness every single season. It is so important to continually evolve as a designer both for myself and for our customer.

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

I draw from nature and Ireland continually inspires. The magnificent landscape and ever-changing weather of this great island is a wealth of culture, music, and poetry providing a never-ending supply of inspiration.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A printed linen dress with faggotting details, lined in cotton. The dress is so versatile—it can be dressed up with heels or worn casually with trainers.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, friends and fresh air—I love the outdoors.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Add a pop of colour to any outfit; it will instantly lift your mood.

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

I love to sea swim.   


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JOANNE HYNES

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit joannehynes.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in the west of Ireland. I earned a degree from LSAD Ireland, then an MA from Central Saint Martins London.  My first break was a call from the Fred Segal store in Los Angeles, who saw my designs in London—that was the beginning.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Failure has been as crucial as every success. Everything I’ve designed over the years has helped me define the craft and DNA of the Joanne Hynes brand. 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND? 

To bring joy and conversations to people’s lives via clothing and images.

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

There’s more to it than meets the eye. It continually changes but always returns to the women in my head. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My father is Hynes (Galway); my mother christened me Sarah Joanne after my great grandmother, who was from Ballinasloe.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY? 

I have never had a dream muse. Whoever she is, she’s constantly evolving, and above all, she’s interesting and craves both modernity and tradition.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I’m living it already—with Joanne Hynes for Dunnes Stores—and it’s dreamy!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

That sense of community and ownership is essential in today’s globalized world.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

People who appreciate great clothes as well as the complexities of designing a range today.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

It’s usually an emotional reaction, or a rebellion against the zeitgeist. I talk it out, draw it out, feel it out, scribble, procrastinate, reflect, etc. Ideas move around and shift until they sit together to tell the story. I’ve become better at compartmentalizing and knowing when to let go.  

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

Going from the west of Ireland to Saint Martins in 2001, I immediately realized that my childhood experiences and the memories I held were the lynchpins of my DNA and what I was saying with my work. I developed so many creative design conversations from my sense of place as a child.

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

From the beginning, I have shared my own fashion stories of “being Irish.” It’s a personal aesthetic based on memories and traditions that are constantly in flux and being redeveloped, but it always comes from the same place with the same sense of “the personal.” 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It’s hard to pick one! Possibly a series of hand embellished tweed skirts from 2006.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Phone, credit card and passport for work purposes- how predictable!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

The other side of the brain (usually the uncomfortable side) and how you use it is so powerful!

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

I don’t follow fashion!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MARTINA HAMILTON

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit martinahamilton.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.  

I initially trained in sculpture, which exposed me to many different mediums. A hands-on approach to making and modelling is a central feature of all of the work I produce. I love that jewellery design allows you to be close to the work—to touch and feel the design. I have spent many years getting to understand my material, and also how each individual wears and interacts with a piece of jewellery.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?  

With the development of each collection, my ambition is to create jewellery that endures; to always spend time considering each design, so it satisfies my humble sense of beauty and timelessness. Trends can be such a valuable indication of a society in a particular moment, but I truly believe the value of a piece is whether your daughter will wear it; whether you cherish it for years. I am fortunate enough to have wonderful customers who seek that out. Therefore, the ambition for the brand is to be a mark of timelessness, beauty, and quality.

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

Since I began experimenting with jewellery design over 25 years ago, my constant and unwavering inspiration is the coastline of my home place. The heart and soul of my designs is, without doubt, the everchanging and present beauty of the West of Ireland and specifically its coastline.


WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The idea of bringing a voice to contemporary Irish design is so important; as a nation, we have always found strength in unity. This is a wonderful example of the marriage of identity and design.

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

My heritage and family history are rooted here in County Sligo. This sense of place is intrinsic to me, and imperative to my work. Seashore wanderings and days spent gazing into rockpools take centre stage in my creative process and inform many of my collections. This is an infinite source of peace for me, and inspiration for my work. This sense of place also translates to the nature of how each piece of jewellery is made. We are a small family team of goldsmiths. It is a real joy knowing that my place of work is one of humour, of people and a commitment to loyalty and quality.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I believe classic simple colour palettes offer a refined base from which a stunning piece of fine jewellery will shine.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? 

Fresh, salty air blown off the Atlantic onto Streadagh Beach, shared with my family and friends, with a healthy dose of humour.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | CAROLINE MITCHELL

 

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit carolinemitchellknitwear.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.  

My mum had me knitting and crocheting by the age of five. By 12, I was making clothes for Barbie and selling them to friends. I studied fashion design at Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD), and after graduation, I worked in a knitwear company in Kildare and the knitwear just stuck! In 1996, I started my own label in Limerick.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I probably have two defining moments. The first was giving up a full-time job to set up my own business with £420 in the bank, a domestic knitting machine, and 12 cones of yarn. The second was being nominated in the Best Designer category at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?  

Just for people to want to wear it!

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

Elegant, comfortable easy-to-wear knitwear with an attention to detail and made in Limerick.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?  

It comes from my own name (keeping it simple!)


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I’m not sure about ‘dream’ but someone that I have dressed many times and has given me so much encouragement and inspiration is Celia Holman Lee from Limerick. If I were to choose someone famous, it would have been Elizabeth Taylor.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

I’d love to collaborate with knitwear designer Mark Fast; I love his use of colour and stitch.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that with the help of social media, anyone in the world can see Irish designed fashion thanks to the Wearing Irish hashtag.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?  

Everybody.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I still use a good old-fashioned sketch pad. I visit the Pitti Filati trade fair every year for yarn inspiration. Inspiration can come from a holiday destination or an exhibition (recently Dior in the V&A). Then I draw, and swatch from those.

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

When I first started designing knitwear, my inspiration came from Celtic art and craft. I love the texture and embellishment, from stone carvings to ornate jewelry. Ireland has such a strong history of craft: lacemaking, knitting, carving, that is different from anywhere else in the world.

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

I come from a long line of creative Irish women who have all influenced me, from my great aunt Florence Hobson, who was the first Irish female architect to my mother who made all my clothes when I was a child.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A knitted wedding dress with a crocheted and beaded back detail.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? 

  • Trips to the Pitti Filati yarn fair in Florence.
  • Regular crocheting, knitting or embroidering.
  • Chocolate.

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

During the early 1950s, my mum worked in Dublin for the designer Irene Gilbert.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | BERNIE MURPHY

 

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit berniemurphy.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.  

My name is Bernie Murphy, textile artist/fashion designer based in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, Ireland. My passion in life has always been fashion and textiles. I worked as a garment technologist with Fruit of the Loom International for 21 years, but after the company went offshore, I saw an opportunity, so I returned to college and completed a top-up BA Honours Degree in Fine and Applied Art and specialized in Textile Art at Ulster University, Belfast. I haven’t looked back since.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Launching my online business in April 2017 was the most defining moment of my new career. And then there was everything that followed—media coverage in national fashion magazines and newspapers and being stocked in prestigious shops nationwide.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?  

To design and create well enough to my satisfaction; beautiful contemporary Irish fashion design with its ‘Heritage-style’ that others will enjoy, admire and pass down to the next generation.

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

Imagined, designed and handcrafted in Donegal, Ireland.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?  

I use my name, Bernie Murphy, my personal identity. And the surname is most certainly Irish.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would have to be Sarah Jessica Parker. I would love to see her wearing one of my designs walking down Fifth Avenue in New York City or at her second home, Donegal.  

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

My dream collaboration would be with Chanel.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish Movement is a wonderful initiative to showcase on an International platform the wealth of contemporary Irish fashion and design we have here in Ireland.  

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?  

I’d love to see everyone wearing Irish and to be recognized for it all over the world.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

I love exploring the drape of Donegal tweeds and making my own patterns for each design.  I like to explore new ways to elaborate on existing techniques and processes to make the ordinary look extraordinary.

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

A sense of place means everything to me, and Buncrana, Co. Donegal has a massive influence on my creative process. Every day—hail, rain or shine—I go for walks along the shores of Lough Swilly to gain inspiration, to recharge and to just enjoy living by the sea. I’ve been so influenced by my homeland that I called my first collection exactly that—’Homelands;’ my new collection is called ‘Belonging.’

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

Being Irish means so much to me.  My creations are inherent of the Irish textile industry, an ‘invented tradition’ with a cultural identity in modern and contemporary Irish Fashion design.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Donegal cape/coat featured in my new ‘Belonging’ Collection. The piece brings the landscape of Donegal to life through the weave, colours, textures and blends of yarn used to create the Donegal tweed.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? 

Family, fabric and my sewing machine.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?  

Less is more… if in doubt, leave it out!

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

I’m the proud mother of two wonderful children: my daughter Bria and son Frank-Aran.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MELISSA CURRY

 

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit melissacurry.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.  

I grew up between Mayo and Meath and pretty much packed my bags after leaving school at 17; I went to Paris to pursue my dreams.  I studied visual communication and worked my way up in the fashion world, after lots of travelling in Africa and Asia. I launched my first brand in 1998 in Paris—where it all began.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Stepping into Paris Fashion Week on a whim with my first collection back in 1998.

I met the head buyer for Liberty and a couple of weeks later I was sitting in her office with her team who got so excited by my work they invited me to spearhead their Millennium Advertising Campaign.

Looking back this was it; a defining moment when my whole world and career changed.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?  

We have been working on a vision for the past eight years that is nearly ready to pop. We have built a sustainable and ethical brand, that has embraced a circular economy adopting ethical practices and procedures—from manufacturing to the end user/customer. We have innovated too, which will challenge the current retail business model. In January 2020 we will be heading to the USA for an exciting launch of our parent brand Melissa C. In other words, big news coming soon!

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

We are a conscious brand that focuses on uplifting those during times of personal adversity.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?  

My main accessories line goes under my name, but my new health and wellness brand BYOS (Be Your Own Success), emerged from a piece of jewelry that has a message to share. This spearheads the brand.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I don’t have one particular muse, but I am inspired by Dries Van Noten andMaison Margiela for their depth and constant evolution in colour and fabric and their innovation.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?  

Tom Ford. I think collaboration is key to challenging oneself, and one’s process; it also invites one to explore new narratives and deliver infinite possibilities.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish propels the incredibly rich imagination and talent of Irish designers and craftspeople of this country forward, bridging and building new possibilities and exciting connections.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?  

Ellen DeGeneres

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. 

My creative process changes continuously; it depends on the project or my collections. Fun and functionality and colour are critical components of my work. I like to play with narratives and texture, and let my imagination and materials do the rest.

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

Living in Ireland gives us the ability to not only think creatively but to become inspired by the incredible people that call it home. One of our collections, the new Póg line, was directly inspired by the Gaelic word for “kiss.” I challenged myself to capture the Irish humour, imagination, and the connection we make with people and places around the globe.

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

My Irish and French experiences have influenced me, and it’s that blend that excites and inspires me.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My Success Bar, it’s my positive reinforcement.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? 

Music, dancing, and Belle (my Basset Hound).

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?  

My red lipstick and a statement piece of jewellery.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | NIALL TYRRELL

 

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland. In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Niall Tyrrell.

Visit nialltyrrell.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am a native of County Galway. After completing a degree course in fashion design at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, I worked for several years in couture houses in London and Paris. In the late 1990s, I returned to Dublin to set up a collaborative label called Tyrrell & Brennan. The label changed direction in 2013 when Donald retired, and I have continued the brand under my own name since then.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To expand my ready-to-wear line, introduce complimentary accessories, and to continue to empower women who wear my pieces.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been several defining career moments that created brand awareness, notably being commissioned to design three gowns for Enya to wear on the Oscars red carpet–a first for an Irish label. Other highlights include being asked to dress former President McAleese when she met Queen Elizabeth and former US President Obama on their historic visits to Ireland.

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

Every season, I do a small ready-to-wear range to hang alongside my bespoke collection. To have something bespoke, using top quality fabrics is a luxury, but the level of satisfaction in seeing the wearer feeling empowered by a garment created for them is genuinely wonderful. I intend to design pieces that transcend seasons. There is an element of sustainability since a well-cut garment with traditional couture techniques can last for years—If not decades.

YOUR DREAM MUSE?

Right now, my dream muse would have to be the actress Claire Foy as she embodies a contemporary yet refined, modern, timeless elegance. I would love to have the opportunity to design for her someday.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Every time I dress a potential new client, it becomes a dream collaboration. As they live through their clothes, it continually inspires and challenges me.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The wearing Irish movement has literally created a fantastic awareness of the many wonderful and talented designers who work in and out of Ireland, highlighting the immense talent, craftsmanship, and diversity of Irish design…that’s inspiring!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

For me, it begins with the fabric. I source my fabrics from international trade fairs as well as indigenous Irish producers. One season always inspires the progression of the next. My environment constantly inspires me; I am like a sponge. I always sketch and find that inspiration can strike at any time. After I sketch and decide the direction I am taking for the collection, I then proceed to make and cut the pattern and create the toiles before I hand over the design to be produced into a finished garment.

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

My entire business is based in Ireland. I am very proud of the fact that I create and make all of our collections in Ireland. I adore the Irish countryside, and I am a great lover of nature and its changing seasons. I am a romantic at heart, and I find that Ireland and its wonderfully diverse countryside is a very romantic place. It is no coincidence that there is a very romantic timeless quality to my work, as a result of this inspiration and heritage.

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

The rich cultural and often, romantic cultural heritage has had an undoubtedly massive influence on my design aesthetic.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

An all-in-one tailored jacket with a pleated flared skirt detail inspired by a classic dressage jacket.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

  1. My partner Oliver
  2. My sketchbook
  3. My diary

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Keep it simple but always with a twist.

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

I am a part-time sheep farmer and love to escape back to the Galway farm to check in on the flock at every opportunity my work allows.

MEET THE DESIGNERS | ROSY TEMPLE

 

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland. In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Rosy Temple of Magee 1866. 

Visit magee1866.com for more!

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

With over 150 years behind us, Magee 1866 has seen and made many changes over the decades to ensure that we survive for centuries to come. Most recently, the decision to start selling online has been a game changer. It gives us the chance to have a shop window to the world.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To be a heritage brand that pushes contemporary boundaries, putting sustainability and Irish design at the forefront of global fashion.

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

We’re a family business, grown from our distinctive heritage in the northwest of Ireland, with a passion for the journey from wool to wearer. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Robert Temple, my great grandfather, worked with his cousin John Magee, who founded and named the company in 1866.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

In the future, we’d love to work with contemporary Irish artists, mixing mediums between our designers’ creative eye and an artist’s perspective.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland is bursting with creative talent, and we’re so excited to be part of a movement that highlights that part of our small island’s culture.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

For starters, we’d love those with an Irish connection to jump onboard and wear the best of our designs. We’d also like to go beyond nations and let Irish design speak for itself, connecting with anybody who has an appreciation for inspired fashion.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

It’s a complex journey for us, starting with our fabric designers. They choose the colour of the yarns, the intricate textile patterns, and the combination of natural fibres—from wool to cashmere to linen. Then, the process passes to our clothing designers, who bring the fabric to life in timeless creations that stand apart from fads and fast fashion.

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

It’s twofold for us at Magee 1866. County Donegal has given us a centuries-old tradition of weaving and working with wool, and the knowledge of that craft has been passed down from generation to generation. Parallel to this, the rugged coastal and mountainous landscape in northwest Ireland is an endless source of inspiration, reflected in our richly-toned colour palette and distinctive patterns.

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

It doesn’t mean being kitsch, or having a tricolor stitched on every label! It’s a much deeper sense of place and community which defines our character, our craft and our very DNA.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Aha! Watch this space. Our AW19 collection brings some real hero pieces to the fore. We’re excited for tweed reinvented in a men’s duffel coat, and a statement coat in vibrant crimson and bold black for women.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

A bicycle so that I can skip the car and pedal into work along the Donegal coastline. A fountain pen so that I can use one pen for life and not buy hundreds of rubbish plastic biros. An Emma coat, which is one of our most timeless herringbone creations in wool and cashmere; it will last far beyond the next generation in business!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I travel a lot, and always keep one of our colourful tweed capes handy to pop over a dress to bring a little Magee 1866 to an evening event, or to wrap up warm after finding a place for an impromptu wild swim!

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

Before joining the family business, I flew to Cape Horn and solo cycled 2,500km north to spend time working on an organic merino wool sheep farm in Patagonia. I am an expert at pulling sheep s*** out of wool after shearing!

MEET THE DESIGNERS | KIERNAN MULHERN

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Kiernan Mulhern of Triona Design. 

Visit trionadesign.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My name is Kieran Mulhern and I’m the Brand Director for my family-run brand Triona, based in Ardara, the home of Donegal Tweed. Triona was formed in 1984 by my parents, Denis and Ann Mulhern.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?  

The most defining moment was during my teenage years, realizing the appreciation of our customers, especially those from overseas, for the quality of our fabrics and products.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Our ambition is to bring Triona to the US and beyond, to show the quality and exclusive clothing we produce.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

My parents, naturally.

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

Our fabrics set us apart and are exclusive to us. Also, having five generations in making tweed is something to be proud of.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Triona is a take from my sister’s name, Catriona.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Our dream muse is Anne Hathaway. She’s the epitome of elegance and already owns a Triona coat.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

Our dream collaboration would be with a designer or retailer to produce an exclusive collection. It would have to be with someone completely different to what we do to make it interesting. Perhaps a milliner!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish offers us the opportunity to reach past our comfort zone and take our clothing to the US and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

We want those that appreciate quality made goods with a rich heritage background to wear Irish.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU?  

New York is the epicenter of the world and provides a wonderful platform to help promote our brand. No city in the world has the same energy as New York and I find it very inspirational.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Donegal tweed fabric is our main focus that we work from. Our tweeds are exclusive and colors are inspired by the colors of the Irish landscape.

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

I think us Irish must be the proudest nation in the world!  It’s wonderful to visit the US and see how well received we are here.  It truly feels special and, with that, very inspiring to bring our product here.

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

All of our tweeds and designs are done from Donegal. Everything happens from here in the quiet and idyllic environment that gives us a great base to think and create!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our oversized belted wool coat.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

The three F’s – fabric, family and friends.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Personally, I’m very simple when it comes to style but I do carry a woolen scarf with me that is sure to top off any look.

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

On behalf of myself and my family, we would like to thank Margaret Molloy and the #wearingirish team for giving us this great opportunity.  We appreciate the incredible work you have done to make this happen.

 

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