Meet The Designers

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.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | THE TWEED PROJECT

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Aoibheann MacNamara and Triona Lillis of The Tweed Project. 

Visit thetweedproject.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

There are two of us at The Tweed Project. Aoibheann MacNamara’s background is in arts administration but is also a specialist at Ard Bia, an enduring restaurant in Galway. She’s into slow food and now into slow fashion. Triona Lillis is a costume designer in the Irish TV and film industries. 

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Our ambition is to move gently in business so that the pieces exist for a lifetime. We work in an interesting and humour-filled way in the west of Ireland.

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

We work with our indigenous Irish fabrics and with an embrace and respect for a global world. We take influence from travel and subtly nod to trends. We work slowly and the product exists gently within the heritage world of fashion.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Our brand name is made, produced and inspired by the west of Ireland. It exists only because of the geographical location.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

The landscape of the west of Ireland remains always, and totally, our overly-communicative muse.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

Our dream collaboration is with each other, when we would be free of other personal and work-related commitments.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is challenging transparency in production and authenticity and that is crucial for our industry’s future and global reach.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

We want the youth to wear Irish so they care about what they wear and care about their fashion heritage and shout about it.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

New York City has always meant uber cool fun. It’s a place where anything can happen. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

We created a capsule starter collection and we add to it slowly year on year. We do what we want, when it feels right, and generally feel out the same direction, whether it be adding tassels or producing tartan.

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

The brand only exists for us because we are Irish and we want to modernize and subvert the tradition of Irish-ness. It is our total inspiration.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in our collection would have to be our tweed kaftan done in collaboration with Starstyling Berlin and printed with glow-in-the-dark designs.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

We couldn’t live without our children, the sea, and good relationships.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

An amazing coat can always cover sins!

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

We’re a little crazy!

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | SARA HALL

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Sara Hall, Creative Director, Sands & Hall.

Visit sandsandhall.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My background is in public relations and advertising, working in both Ireland and Canada. After the birth of my first daughter, I had some time to take stock and think about what I really wanted to do. I was inspired to begin working with materials that I loved and to create pieces that I had ideas for – the difficult part was getting it off the ground from there but I haven’t looked back.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER? 

That’s a hard one to answer. There are many defining moments, but I think having the full AW1718 feature on Vogue UK was the ‘what on earth’ moment for me.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would love to expand our collections and for Sands & Hall to become much more well-known. I’d like to have my pieces adorn women across the globe, showcasing the best of Irish design and heritage products, and demonstrating that slow fashion can make timeless fashion statements.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

Unfortunately, I have not had the benefit of working closely with a mentor in a specific fashion house or education establishment, but I’ve been heavily influenced by the work of fashion houses such as Celine. I very much had to learn on the job – taking my initial ideas and finding the right people to guide and support me. In doing so, I was very fortunate to come across you and WearingIrish (through social media) and that was a defining moment. I look to you as someone I can go to for guidance and as an authority in the industry.
HOW YOU WOULD DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

For me the clothing that you wear serves many purposes – some practical and some emotional. In particular, an outerwear piece needs to be both protective and make a statement. Over recent years, I have felt uneasy about the fast fashion culture and subconsciously longed for a slower, more honest and creative approach to the clothing that we wear, reminiscent of times gone by. It was this desire that encouraged me to create pieces for the modern-day woman that would be timeless yet contemporary, fashion forward yet taking inspiration from the past. I wanted to enable strong women everywhere to be able to make a fashion statement in a chic and comfortable way.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Sands is my maiden name and Hall is my married name (my husband’s surname). I felt it important to take ownership of the brand and give it true grounding and heritage.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Kate Moss is my dream muse. I’ve enjoyed watching her through endless campaigns and many transformations, yet she always keeps an air of mystery and is true to herself. Her natural, honest beauty is a tonic – she is a strong, inspiring woman without being overt or fake.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

My dream collaboration would be with the store Liberty, London. The history itself of the store and how it was founded 143 years ago by one individual with a 2,000 pound loan astounds me. The fashion in Liberty is so different when compared to any other store. Walking through it is a full-on experience and the buyers know what they are doing in each and every section. Any trip to London for me always includes a visit to Liberty. To see Sands & Hall in there some day would be a dream come true. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I’m inspired by everything WearingIrish stands for—bringing Irish fashion design to the rest of the world and showing how much talent is in the beautiful Island of Ireland. I’m also thrilled to be able to use materials sourced in Ireland with a huge amount of heritage in my designs so WearingIrish is the perfect showcase for our brand. I think it is an incredible thing to do for Irish fashion and I am so proud and excited to be a part of it.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

It’s huge. A dream come true – to dream of working in fashion and bring your ideas to life is one thing but to bring my designs to New York City is the ultimate goal.  After all, it’s the center of the fashion industry.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I’m not sure that the creative process ever really has a beginning, as I always have so many ideas and trends that I am following. So the beginning is really deciding which idea to focus on first and which elements are really essential to making the style special and uniquely Sands & Hall.

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

I have always been proud of my heritage and my Irish background as I grew up in a huge musical family, surrounded by beautiful, natural landscapes in Co Down, North of Ireland. I have always visited Donegal and it is the natural landscape there, and the wool of the animals that graze there, that go into our Donegal Tweed. I am so proud to be able to take this traditional ingredient and present it for today’s fashion conscious.

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

The honesty and culture of Ireland is part of my nature and inspires me to create pieces that stand out and stand proud – spreading the word as we Irish do. I think it is important to remember history and this is part of the creative process for me – taking inspiration from the classics of the past and turning them into timeless pieces of the future.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our fitted cape is the dream cape in our collection – it really makes a statement and is the most desired piece for special events and horse-racing. Personally though, I cannot be parted from the new Relaxed Coat which features in our AW1819 collection, especially in Sedwick Dove Donegal Tweed.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my loved ones, coats and water!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I like to pair a vintage find with an expensive piece as they bounce off each other so well – elevating each other in different ways. 

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

I’m actually quite a shy person and I get nervous when public speaking, even though my current and past jobs would suggest differently. I feel a lot more comfortable when I am talking about the things I’m passionate about, like my business.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | NATALIE COLEMAN

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Natalie Coleman, Creative Director, NATALIEBCOLEMAN. 

Visit nataliebcoleman.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the Limerick School of Art & Design with a BA in Fashion & Design in 2006. A year later, I was studying on the MA Fashion in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins under the tutelage of the late Louise Wilson. In addition to owning and running a successful label, I’m also a fashion lecturer at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career has to be coming up with the inspiration for the All the Jewellery I Never Got collection as it got picked up by so many great stores and press.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to continue to grow the brand on an international level and to continue to collaborate with people that are challenging norms in music, print, photography.

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN THE BUSINESS? 

I started up at the same time as a lot of my peers that I studied with in London so we have really supported each other. The Irish Design and Craft Council and the British Fashion Council have also been great in terms of advice.

WHAT WOULD YOU DEFINE THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND AS?

Our collections play on feminine silhouettes with humorous, and sometimes subversive, illustrative prints and motifs. The label’s work pivots between tradition and innovation. The use of indigenous tweeds from family weavers Molloy & Sons in Donegal are frequently used in the collections. We have developed a modern Irishness through the work. This narrative is coupled with opulent fabrics, appliques, whimsical hand beaded and hand painted surface decoration. Our label draws on the natural heritage, traditional techniques and skills inherent in the Irish textile industry and fuses them with modernity and innovation. We present our collections at London and Paris Fashion Weeks and we have just presented Autumn/Winter 2018 collection at London Fashion Week Designer Showrooms. The collections have been featured in magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Grazia, Marie Claire, Elle and Source Magazine. Fans of the label include Laura Whitmore, Angela Scanlon, Marina & The Diamonds, Suki Waterhouse, Lily Collins, Little Mix, Tami Roman, Esperanza Spalding and Mary J Blige.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

It is an eponymous label with the “B” standing for my Mother’s name, Bridie.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I love Edith Beauvoir Beale and her daughter, little Edie. The Maysles brothers made a documentary about their lives in their East Hampton home in the 70’s titled Grey Gardens. It really captures a poetic, beautiful and tragic story of mother-daughter love, dysfunctionality and beauty unraveling. Our collections are inspired by the stories of women, both contemporary and in the past, and these inspirations really embody and inspire our design approach.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

We have been asked to collaborate with ASOS and Anthropology before but the timing was not right. Now would be a great time to work with a high street store.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

We have inherited such a rich legacy through Ireland’s textile history. It’s a really exciting time to say something new, using traditional techniques in an innovative way, and sharing this through the WearingIrish initiative.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want Beyoncé to wear Irish.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU?

 New York City means vibrancy, energy, connectedness and opportunity to me.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I normally start with a story, a narrative. Each season the collection is almost like a diary page for me. I’m always influenced by what is going on around me culturally, and of course historically. But I bring something of myself in, through my own perspective or experience, that helps me to generate new ideas. I think it is vital to have something fresh or new to say. At the moment, we are developing a lot of our own embroideries for the next season through drawing and humorous texts.

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

Our label draws on the natural heritage, traditional techniques and skills inherent in the Irish textile industry and fuses them with modernity and innovation. We have collaborated for several seasons with sixth generation Irish weavers Molloy and Sons, creating tweeds that are unique to our label from Donegal wools.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

This season, people have loved the tweed coats and the silk taffeta skirts that are quilted by us in the studio using a light wool padding. I will definitely be living in the linen textured dresses!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without mascara, my phone and my gold lambskin hoodie from a few seasons ago.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My go-to is a great coat and sunglasses!

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

In 2013, I was asked to be the first Irish design ambassador to Microsoft Ireland. This is an exciting role for me and my label, bridging innovation and technology with fashion. The Surface pro4 device is used in my studio to practice sketch and to photograph visual concepts for the collection while also operating as a social media tool to connect with my followers and clients.

MEET THE DESIGNERS | ANNE BEHAN

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Anne Behan, Creative Director, Aine. 

Visit aineknitwear.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from the distinguished Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) with a degree in fashion design. My specialty was knitwear, winning the Student Knitwear Designer Award, and I went on to study for a postgraduate qualification in Knitwear and Computer Aided Design, also at LSAD. After graduation I worked at various fashion and knitwear companies, including Carraig Donn and Ireland’s Eye Knitwear.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would like my brand to sell worldwide and be synonymous with beauty, quality and heritage.

WHAT IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The Aine label is firmly rooted in the rich heritage of Ireland’s knitwear traditions. The brand brings these traditions into modern life using contemporary designs and incorporating color and texture into fabrics that create simple, easy to wear shapes. The label uses only the finest natural luxury yarns, such as cashmere blends, silk mixes and the softest lambswool sourced in Ireland, Scotland and Italy.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Aine is the Celtic language translation for Anne.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Alexander McQueen is my dream muse. I loved his mastery of taking an old style or pattern and updating it in a new, unrelated fabric to create something even more beautiful (like the AW 2006-7 dress made from pheasant feather or the 2001 SS mussel shell vest). I also love the way he recut fabrics, like tartan, to make them look new and different.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION? 

My dream collaboration would be with Vivienne Westwood.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is a celebration of the best Irish creations and their designers.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want anybody who likes the garments or jewelry, for either their design aesthetic or the story behind the brand, to wear Irish. 

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I start all my collections with a weekend away along the Wild Atlantic Way to shoot the colors and textures of the countryside. Then I go to a yarn fair in Florence to research new ideas in fiber technology, machinery, color and trends for the following season.  I decide on a theme and then swatch the yarns and colors together until I am happy with the look and feel of the knitted fabrics. The fall and flow of the textiles usually dictate the final shape and style of the garment.

 

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

I am proud of being Irish and of Ireland as a country. We are a people who are rooted in tradition and who consistently lead the way in achieving excellence. For a small country, our influence on the world stage is extraordinary. The history, the people, the culture and traditions, the landscape, the music and folklore all influence my designs.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in my collection is a simple floral collar, knitted in the softest lambswool. It is decorative yet functional, keeping you warm without adding bulk to your silhouette.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without color, texture and tradition.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Black with a pop of color.

 

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

I’m committed to supporting my local community by manufacturing and sourcing raw materials within my locality.  This helps to keep people in the rural communities and avoids the shift to urban areas.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | GEMMA O LEARY

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Gemma O Leary, Creative Director, Inner Island. 

Visit innerisland.ie for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started my journey through various short courses and internships in Canada, Scotland and Dublin. Having little formal education, I learned my trade on the job and through experimentation.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Releasing my first collection was the most defining moment of my career. It can be frightening to put your heart into something and then show it to the world. Overcoming the fear was the first step on this adventure. Without taking that step, everything that followed would not have happened.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to bring the INNER ISLAND brand to a wider audience and have a presence in suitable high-end stores in every country in the world. In addition, I’d like to increase sales by 50% each year for the next three years. I still want to retain an exclusive but affordable cult-brand vibe as I continue to grow.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR BRAND APART?

We think design integrity and quality are essential but that you shouldn’t have to pay the world to get it. To achieve this, we work on a separate design story for each collection and I personally make all the pieces using the ancient art of metalworking combined with modern technologies. The ethos of the brand is to bring a refined, subtle approach to design starting with simple shapes and introducing unexpected details. The intention is to create pieces that will surprise and delight with a modern contemporary aesthetic.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

The name INNER ISLAND comes from a song by a Swedish artist called El Pedro Del Mar. For me, it denotes that each of us has a sense of self that can be influenced by those around us, but we should not abandon our personal identity.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse is Tilda Swinton. She is from a very rare group of women who do in fact represent everything a muse should be— influential, emotional and transformative.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My dream collaboration would be with Issey Miyake.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Irish design has moved on from Claddagh rings and Aran sweaters. WearingIrish highlights the wealth of talent we have on this island.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone!

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU.

New York City is an exciting melting pot of culture. If you stand in Times Square long enough, you’ll see the entire world walk by.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Inspiration can strike at any moment from anywhere. I have collections inspired by a seventh century stained glass window, the curve of a wooden boat and even an ancient board game. For me, a point of reference is important to help create something truly unique.

 

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

Being Irish has influenced every fiber of who I am and therefore what I create. We have an unrivaled and evolving culture. I take great inspiration and pride from our past and also feel a responsibility to continue the high standard of craftsmanship for which Ireland is renowned.

 

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

As I live in a remote area of Ireland, it has a huge influence on my creative process. I look out my studio window at a huge expanse of countryside that calms my mind and allows the creativity to flow. Being remote also forces me to look inward in my creative process as I’m not bombarded with the stimuli that you would get in the city.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The most coveted item in my collection would be the Large Ammil earrings. They are an oxymoron; a minimal statement earring.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my sketch pad, coffee and phone.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

 Know when to stop. If you’re drawing attention to your face and neckline with layered necklaces, or a statement piece, perhaps you don’t need an armful of bangles to compete for attention.

 

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

Rain is one of my favorite sounds.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | GARVAN DE BRUIR

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Garvan De Bruir, Creative Director and Craftsman, DE BRUIR. 

Visit debruir.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My formal training was as a furniture designer and craftsman in the UK. My graduate work won a ‘Future of Design Award’ in London and was exhibited in Dubai as the reward. I specialized in timber and cast metal but I loved incorporating leather for any upholstery. The early years of my practice were in the UK before relocating back home to Kildare and self-building the timber structures that form the DE BRUIR workshops. There, alongside making furniture, I also began experimenting with making leather bags.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Simply getting online was the most defining moment. In the early days of Etsy.com, I listed a few bags and was amazed at the confidence of a buyer in the USA, Australia, or Japan in making such a significant purchase based purely on some images, identifying the integrity of my leather and the honesty of my construction methods. I thought this bag-making venture must be worth pursuing.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

The ambition is that people aspire to owning a DE BRUIR bag, mostly because they think they look handsome! But, of course, the appearance of the bag has to be backed up with an earned reputation for uncompromising quality and longevity. Each bag sold and in use should become a walking advertisement for the brand.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

Any mentoring that I’ve received thus far has been in creative or technical capacities. As the collection is nearing completion, I’d definitely welcome a mentor in helping to make the brand and business more commercial.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

In the DE BRUIR collection, the caliber of both the leather and the craftsmanship is paramount. My workshop is located in Kildare, the equestrian heartland of Ireland. In horse racing, leather is considered as a structural and industrial material.  Saddles and bridles are made to function and endure in hard-working environments. From the tanning specification of the leather, to the robustness of the stitching or the solid brass fixings, every detail must play its part for each item to succeed. Also, as I am essentially self-taught in bag making, approaching the process from a structural background has defined the unique aesthetic of the bags.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

DE BRUIR is my surname. It’s quite a unique name so happily the .com version was available when launching the brand.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

It is probably towards characters in the style of Indiana Jones. There is a ruggedness to the bags that enjoy being challenged on all manner of adventures. And afterwards to just be dusted off and polished back to life with just a few fading scars to tell the tale.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I’d love to be investigating the potential for leather in tensile architecture or large installations. So any architect that will listen would do! Leather has largely been forgotten as the industrial material that featured throughout history. Its particular strengths and versatility made it a core material of many civilizations. As a natural and ecologically sustainable material, we should be seeking out more uses for it beyond just luxury items.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish acknowledges that there is a community of designers in Ireland that are each working to a level of excellence in their field.  And, as importantly, there is a community of design patrons seeking our rich output around the world. As designer-makers, if we continue pursuing our creative ambitions, there is an audience to whom we can market our work.

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Any and all international design enthusiasts are the target for WearingIrish. We know we compete at the highest level in quality and sustainability and it falls on our design skills to appeal consistently on an international stage.

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

It’s an international style capital and the place where I’d envision my brand being appreciated. It comes with a particularly well-informed consumer, who places an emphasis on the source of a product and the authenticity behind the making of it.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I prototype a lot. It is mostly investigating methods of construction, solving details and letting those solutions define the design. I use the various bags, accessories, or jacket prototypes myself to best inform and improve their functionality. I’m pretty reckless in how I treat the prototypes to ensure they are able to endure a long working life.

 

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

I think Irish designers have an affinity for the very core natural materials (wool, leather, wood, stone, ceramic, glass, metal…). We have an awareness of their properties when in their rawest stage and the ability to be inventive with their natural beauty. Perhaps this affinity is based on our closeness to the land and animals. There is little satisfaction for me in working with processed materials instead, designing and making from first principles brings the real reward.

 

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

The specification of leather I use is typical of my local equestrian industry – leather is celebrated for its longevity in tough working environments. It is just a happy coincidence that it is also one of the most handsome and luxurious materials in the natural world!

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Sports Bag is probably the most coveted design as it has the broadest appeal. It achieves a unisex design. While keeping the same features and proportions, simply tailoring the size and the texture of the leather will give it a more masculine or feminine feel.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

While I have a nice enough car, I really love my beaten-up van.  It allows me to do the most diverse projects. I’m self-building a house and, as always, my van is a complete workhorse.

Next comes the prototype of the wax-cotton gilet design. I’ve been wearing it doing everything from building stone walls to chain-sawing down trees. I’m testing it to destruction and it simply won’t give in!

I do need my workshop too. It’s an environment I’ve built around me – some spaces within it are suited for streamlined production but some purely for experimental work. It keeps me excited about the making process.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I keep a long cut of leather as a scarf – it is the outside of the cow-hide so has one undulating edge and one straight-cut edge. It’s classic color and texture combines with any outfit. Arranged tidily with the polished face out, it can achieve a formal look very effectively. Or bringing the open-grain face outwards and worn loosely, it can be windswept and adventurous. No matter how it is worn though, it always smells great!

 

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

My favorite sewing machine has to be a Pearson No.6! At well over 100 years old, and propelled by hand with a fly wheel, it achieves the most fantastic stitch (through up to 15mm thicknesses of leather). At the last count, I had 15 different industrial sewing machines in the workshop, all appropriate to different tasks, but nothing to rival the 19th century Pearson for timeless quality. It’s fitting for such a legendary material!    

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | BLAITHIN ENNIS

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Blaithin Ennis, Creative Director and Designer, Blaithin Ennis.

Visit blaithinennis.com for more!

 

 

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I spent four years studying at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin, specializing in embroidered textiles. I interned with Diane Von Furstenberg in New York during my third year of college. After graduating, I worked for three years in retail before starting my own business. I’ve participated in the CREATE initiative at Brown Thomas, a luxury department store in Ireland, for three years and have won a number of jewelry and entrepreneurial awards.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moment of my career was when I had the opportunity to intern at Diane Von Furstenberg. This helped me gain a huge amount of insight into the overall design process and how it merges with business.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to continue designing bespoke handmade pieces and build on my reputation as an innovative jewelry and accessory designer. At the same time, I’d like to pursue a possible collaboration with a worldwide brand as the in-store jewelry and accessory designer. One of my longtime ambitions is to design costume pieces for movies.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

A lot of my design work is self-taught, but I’ve had inspiring mentors over the years from as early back as my art teacher Paul McCloskey in secondary school. Nigel Cheney from NCAD, Joan Spencer, local businesswoman from Wexford and various members of the Local Enterprise Office have also been mentors to me.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

I believe what sets my brand apart is the unique and innovative process of material manipulation I use to create beautiful jewelry and accessories.  Each piece is handmade at my studio in Ireland.

 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

My brand name is my own name! I’m proud to be Irish and translated it means ‘Little Flower’. Blaithin is pronounced (Blaw- heen).

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

Angelina Jolie is my dream muse. I’ve always loved her versatility, sometimes daring and thought-provoking style. She also achieves understated cool and elegance which I really admire.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Collaborating with a high street brand like COS/Victoria Secret Runway or the ultimate dream… CHANEL!

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The Irish have such an affiliation with American history and society. I think it’s wonderful that the WearingIrish movement represents the culture of Ireland in such an engaging and authentic way. 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

People with Irish heritage playing significant roles in American society who will have an innate interest in spreading the word.

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU. 

To me, New York City is an intense bubble of amazing history, culture and creativity. It’s a city that makes so many Americans proud of who they are and what their country represents to the world.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

My creative process varies. I tend to focus on sampling and experimentation when designing new collections. My ready-to-wear pieces always stem from the larger couture work.

 

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

Ireland is a beautiful country with deep rooted heritage and culture and a profound affinity to the arts. With the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement approaching, it’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to now be living with peace.  

 

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

Sisal, Aramid, Karelian, Topaz are some of the names used in my collections. These are knotting and sailing terms that have influenced my craft over time. My dad and younger sisters are avid dingy sailors in Ireland and I have always been fascinated by the materials and techniques they use.  Living in coastal Ireland has had a profound impact on my creative process and inspiration.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My DVF Stephanie knit bag, a most memorable piece from my internship.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without a cup of daily coffee (usually 11am), my iPad and the amazing local artisan cheese from Co. Carlow!

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My go-to styling trick is my use of accessories to compliment my individual style. I have collections of wonderful handmade Italian hats, wool and leather gloves and belts that I have collected over the years.

 

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

I am a huge Disney fan! I have always loved performance, dance, and music all things Disney encompasses so well. One of my collections was inspired by Walt Disney’s 1920’s Fantasia and it’s “Pastoral Symphony.” The Centaurette scene from the movie inspired my large-scale blush pieces.  The femininity, but also the underlying strength of the characters, is what I love the most.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | ALISON CONNEELY

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Alison Conneely, Creative Director, Alison Conneely.

Visit alisonconneely.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born on the Ardbear Peninsula, in Ireland’s iconic western landscape terrain, Connemara, which is also home to the creative imagination of director John Ford and playwright Martin McDonagh’s famed ‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’. These dramatic moorlands have grounded, inspired and informed my narrative as a contemporary Irish designer.

 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being chosen as Irish design representative by the National Museum of Ireland for the 1916 centenary commemorations.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to create a modern design mythology rooted in the lost traditions of the past, create cutting-edge garments for future generations to wear (embedded with subtle historic symbolism – a world view into intricate island folk-ways) and weaving fine-line garments for 21st century heroines.

 

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? 

My mentor is my extraordinary friend and collaborator, the designer and artist, Roisin Gartland.

 

WHAT IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF YOUR BRAND?

The heart and soul of my brand can be found in the fine lines, metamorphic contours and mellow tones with shades of iridescent. Our practice is rooted in the rich textile tradition of Ireland’s dramatic Atlantic coast, and our design philosophy is imagined through a delicate modernist lens.  Many of the fabrics are hand dyed locally on the Ardbear Peninsula, from rock moss, gorse, and seasonal heather blooms. In addition, a selection of our headpieces are woven from organic wool on our family farm. The flora and fauna of Connemara’s botanical wonderland inspires the template of our unique artisan tailoring methods.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse would be Eileen Grey, a pioneering Irish artist, architect and designer. She was a modernist whose soul was in her everlasting vision and genre-defying ethos.

 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I believe that our skill set as makers, our ancestral Irish roots, our organic textile focus and contemporary vision would merge successfully with the conscientious lifestyle philosophy and trusted curatorial platform that is Goop. Just imagine our handcrafted Irish tweed coat on Goop’s living platform. Spun and dyed in the wild Atlantic coastline, it is crafted with a modern lens, worn by the mindful woman.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is both inspired and alluring. It’s the untold tale, living folklore stitched and woven, worn and shared. 

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Evening strollers, night time revelers, autumn brides and shy subway commuters, nostalgic city dwellers, Springtime femininities, and those inclined to wander in a living old day dream are among those I wish to wear Irish.

 

TELL US WHAT NEW YORK CITY MEANS TO YOU.

To me, New York City is a prism for creative pilgrims, a hive for the immigrant dream.

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I think all creative people have influences greater than they imagine. From the epic saga of Queen Meadhbh of Connaught to the rhythmic beat of the loom weaving my tweed in the valley of Ardara, Donegal. A walk through the mauve heather and bog-cotton bogs in June to the captivating Pina Bausch in Cafe Muller. From the reveries of Plath, to the off-beat dance scene in Yorgos Lanthimo’s film, Dogtooth. Watching Olwen Fouere enchant in James Joyce’s River Run.

 

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

The landscape of my playground growing up was a dramatic yet isolating canvas. Vast wind-swept moorland, meandering harsh Atlantic shoreline, isolated hawthorn trees, narrow winding roadways drifting into famine speckled mountains. I always tried to imagine characters walking through this wilderness, whether away from, lost in or coming back to it. I understand now that the characters of my imagination, as an island dwelling youth, were informed by a storytelling generation, pining for an era where people once populated the landscape as famine hungry peasants, spailpins, banshees, and other wandering souls. I wondered if there could ever be new archetypes imagined. What it is to be an Irish woman in the present, threading through a mythological past, stitching a more reflexive future. I hunted beyond the terrain of my locale, darting through history and time in Ireland, 3000 years prior to Queen Meadhbh of Connaught, to turn of the century Celtic Revival ambassadors- Maude Gonne, Lady Gregory, and Lilly & Lolly Yeats, W.B.’s overshadowed sisters. The old, the new, the brave and understated, I make for the heroines of today.

 

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My silk kidskin cape, sculpted on an ancient fur machine.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

I can’t live without my ‘Bella’s Faul’ tweed coat, a cycle through the valley of Leenane, Connemara towards sunset, or my thimble, my thread, my love.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Pare it back.

 

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

In my secret life, I am the eternal nine-year-old tomboy, parallel parking my go kart with denim shorts and scuffed knees singing ‘Just Like a Prayer, I’ll take ya there’.

 

MEET THE DESIGNERS | JENNIFER ROTHWELL

 

WEARINGIRISH NYC 2018 showcases ten top designers from Ireland. In this series, meet the makers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Jennifer Rothwell, Creative Director, Jennifer Rothwell.

Visit jenniferrothwell.com for more!

 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born in New York but raised in Dublin. After graduating from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, I went back to New York to gain invaluable industry experience and worked for many high-profile companies such as Norma Kamali and Calvin Klein. In 2006, I returned to Ireland and launched my label, Jennifer Rothwell.

 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

When the National Museum of Ireland purchased three of my prints for their Contemporary Collections in 2016.

 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR JENNIFER ROTHWELL?

My ambition is to take my brand global and reignite the Celtic revival while also introducing a new generation to Ireland’s rich culture and heritage through my contemporary designs. My hope is that helps to create employment in the Irish design sector and also reignites fashion manufacturing in Ireland.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR IN BUSINESS?

I am a mentor for the Design and Craft Council of Ireland and enjoy sharing my knowledge with new businesses and up-and-coming designers. However, I also seek out mentoring myself when needed, specifically in areas such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO’s), social media and market strategies.

 

WHAT SETS YOUR DESIGNS APART?

I create beautiful wearable digital printed works of art that are striking, colorful and meant to uplift one’s spirit. I am inspired by Irish heritage and culture and introduce these elements into my contemporary designs. I am very passionate about my Irish heritage and passionate about manufacturing in Ireland.

 

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE, AND WHY?

My dream muse is Florence Welch.  I love her music and style and would absolutely love her to wear Jennifer Rothwell, specifically the Madeline print, inspired by fellow artist and muse, Harry Clarke.

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love that the WearingIrish movement is highlighting the great talent we have in Ireland while also showcasing Irish design on the global stage!

 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone!  In particular, I’d like my fellow designers, artists and the wider global community to wear Irish.

 

WHAT DOES NEW YORK MEAN TO YOU?

New York City has a very special place in my heart.  It’s the city of my birth and the place I took my first breath of life!

 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am inspired by my Irish heritage, it’s culture and folklore, nature and different places and cultures around the world. I generally start my design process with a concept or idea and then work on the process of designing the print.  After the print has been designed, I drape the fabric on my tailoring mannequin’s different shapes and silhouettes. I design on the form.

 

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

The fact that I was born in America, raised in Ireland, and then returned back to live in the USA for awhile gives me a greater appreciation of my Irish heritage and culture. That is why I am so passionate about reigniting the Celtic revival and introducing a new generation to amazing Irish artists such as Harry Clarke as well as the intricate illustrations of the Book of Kells.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It’s actually my very first print, and now my signature, the “hummingbird print” for dresses, accessories and the coveted pocket squared for men.

 

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

First and foremost it’s my family, being creative, and my retreat in Wexford, Ireland.

 

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

For women, throw on a colorful and striking Jennifer Rothwell scarf to brighten up any outfit and uplift your spirits.  For men, pop on a colorful bow tie or pocket square, to look instantly stylish and stand out in the crowd.

 

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

Jennifer Rothwell is currently the first and only designer that digitally prints and manufactures in Ireland, a fact that makes me extremely proud.  I have been manufacturing my designs in Ireland since 2010 and I’m extremely passionate about bringing manufacturing back to Ireland once again and to create employment in the wider Irish design community, thus keeping families together and the design talent in Ireland.