Meet The Designers

MEET THE DESIGNERS |  MERITTA GORMAN-GEOGHEGAN & BRIDGET GEOGHEGAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit  misetusa.ie for more!  




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Meritta: I designed and hand-sewed my first suit when I was nine years old. My grandmother was a dressmaker, and I had to prove myself before I was allowed to use the sewing machine. I’ve been designing and creating ever since.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Meritta: Starting my label and opening my first shop in 1996, after returning from London, where I worked for several design houses as a pattern cutter.
 

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To create standout, feel-good, authentic pieces which are also timeless.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Meritta: Mise is the Irish word for ‘me’ and tusa means ‘you.’ The name represents connection and the new chapter of being business partners with my daughter Bridget.

YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Meritta: Having designed for diverse and fabulous women over the years, I no longer have just one muse but rather am inspired by all the women who wish to express their individuality. ​

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

Bridget: The WearingIrish movement has been incredibly inspirational as it has provided a platform and community to showcase the wealth of Irish talent on the international stage.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Bridget: We are both huge fans of Jane Fonda. She is a true icon who uses her platform to fight for climate justice, something that is really important to us, so seeing Jane Fonda wearing Irish would be incredible!

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

Meritta: I feel very grateful to be based on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland; it inspires all aspects of my work. This season, the Mise Tusa ‘Imagine’ collection embodies warm earthy tones inspired by our rolling fields and woodlands, tranquil blue hues reminiscent of our magical wild Atlantic way and a delicate infusion of floral prints inspired by Ireland’s unique flora and fauna.

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

Bridget: For me, I associate being Irish with a strong sense of community, warmth, creativity and values that influence all aspects of our business—from creating a community of like-minded women to collaborating with other Irish creatives.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Bridget: I’d have to say our ‘Draíocht’ (Irish for ‘magic’) coat. It truly is an exceptional, innovative and uniquely Irish design. Imagined by Meritta one late night at the studio, this coat is the ultimate shapeshifter, as it can be styled in several ways (even upside down!). Each coat is individually created using Irish tweed and is unique in its shade variation. You can watch a video of me styling the coat here.

 


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  NIAMH GILLESPIE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Niamh Gillespie of Tidings.

Visit tidings.ie for more!  




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I graduated from The National College of Art and Design in 2002 with a degree in printed textiles. I spent time gaining invaluable experience in London: four years working alongside Paul Smith, designing prints across three womenswear labels; designing prints for Alexander Mc Queen, Conran, Liberty’s of London, House of Hackney and Topshop, among others. I also enjoyed some collaborations with Gordons Gin and Waterstones. Family and life brought me back to Ireland five years ago, where I launched my label Tidings in September 2020; it’s been a whirlwind since then!  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Having the opportunity to launch Tidings in Brown Thomas for Create 2021 has, without a doubt, been the most defining moment of my career so far.  


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To create standout, feel-good, authentic pieces which are also timeless.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Whilst out walking along my local beach, I came across a beautiful old message in a bottle that sparked the idea for Tidings. Tidings can mean “message,” and I love that it also incorporates the tidal element, linking my brand and all that inspires it to the sea. All Tidings products convey uplifting messages, whether of hope, fun or positivity.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

At the moment, I have some very exciting projects happening with luxury Irish brands in other industries. I love collaborating and sharing skills to create something unique. I genuinely believe in the power of sharing ideas and skills, and this process always seems to spark new ideas and build even stronger creative results. ​

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish is such a wonderful platform to showcase Irish design. I feel particularly excited to see design work developed during lockdown in 2020. I feel sure that despite the challenges, a vast amount of existing work is emerging. Silver Linings and all!

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I would love to see Tidings worn by people who use their profile and platform to reinforce the mission of the pieces I create: positivity, strength, friendship, kindness, hope. Perhaps I’ll see Kamala Harris, Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker or Jill Biden wearing a Tidings piece. But whether the wearer has a public profile or not, it is always gratifying to know that my design work is valued and that Tidings designs are worn with pride. Of course, I have a few dream Tidings pinups I’d love to see showcasing the collection, but every wearer and customer is hugely important to me.

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

For me, making the move home to Ireland was a catalyst for all the creativity that now embodies Tidings. Living beside the sea where I walk or run or wild swim most days is a constant source of inspiration and keeps me grounded in the beauty and scenery of Ireland. The colors and shapes, the natural beauty of home inform my designs, my collections, and the impact of being in Ireland underlines the positive messages that each piece of the brand conveys. I often think of something Paul Smith said while I was working with him: “You can find inspiration in everything. And if you can’t? Look again.” I love this and find truth in it each time I walk out my front door.

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

I am, first and foremost, Irish. No matter where I’ve lived and worked and what inspiration and motivations I’ve gained along the way, Ireland is my home, and the history and natural beauty of the country will always influence my work. The community around the creative arts in Ireland is hugely welcoming. And there is so much to draw from–the beaches to farmland, green grass to city. Ireland’s massive amount of creative talent only confirms that. I’ve appreciated building up a network of fellow designers whose feedback and support have helped me launch and grow Tidings this past year.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

One of my favorites and favorite with Tidings customers is my “Bloom with Grace” scarf. This stylized linear hand-painted floral print has been a best-seller and has been featured in Vogue, GQ, Grazia, Image, Social and Personal and The Irish Examiner.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Apart from my husband and two daughters, a cup of tea, red lipstick and of course a Tidings Silk Scarf.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I wear dresses most days and love to style them up with heels or dress them down with trainers. I also wear a lot of black, which works perfectly with my Tidings collection, injecting some color into every outfit.  

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

I also run another homeware Interior brand, “Niamh Gillespie Design.” I recently launched an “Abstract Faces” collection, which has been very popular. The collection is a mix of contemporary art prints using monochromatic tones with pops of fluorescent color. Abstract forms and typographic styles are the main inspiration.  

 


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  CHARLOTTE MOONEY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Charlotte Mooney of Charlotte Lucas.

Visit charlottelucasstyle.com for more!  




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I am originally from Offaly and now live by the sea in Dalkey, Co Dublin. My career began in business and marketing, but my passion was always in a more creative environment. After a serious illness, I decided to take the plunge and change careers. I went back to college to study fashion and from day one, I knew I had found ‘my thing.’

In 2013 I graduated from the Dublin Institute of Design and went on to work with Diane von Furstenburg in London and Paris. I returned to Ireland to work with Bespoke Bridal Designer Dawn Fitzgerald and Irish Fashion Houses, Jennifer Rothwell and feeG. I now have my own brand Charlotte Lucas, and I am a part-time lecturer in Fashion Design with the Fashion Academy of Ireland.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being nominated for ‘One to Watch’ at the Irish Fashion Innovation awards was a very proud moment. Seeing my collection on the catwalk at the ARC Fashion Show in the RDS was a real pinch-me moment, too.  


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I want to grow my brand to be stocked in beautiful independent boutiques across Ireland and overseas. I love working directly with customers, so I will always have a bespoke element to my business. Sustainability in fashion is essential to me. I want to expand my business while staying true to my core values of “investing in quality pieces, choosing well and buying less.”

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

I am inspired by the romance and decadence of a bygone era. My work epitomizes modern elegance with a timeless, feminine and effortless attitude.
 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

I love the old Irish saying, “Grow where you are planted.” I wanted to have a nod to my roots in my brand name. I am from an area called Mount Lucas, so I combined this with my own name, Charlotte.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Florence Welch, the ultimate ethereal goddess.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Designer Matthew Williamson, for anything! He is my fashion hero, and the reason I went into fashion. ​

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement is an excellent initiative to encourage the Irish living abroad to support Irish design and fly the flag of Ireland worldwide.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Irish people! I feel a large majority of Irish people do not support Irish designers. I would like to see more politicians and CEOs of Irish companies support Irish design. For example, Caroline Keeling, Francesca Mc Donagh and Ann O’Leary.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I examine the trend forecasting reports for the season I am working on and choose the themes, fabrics and silhouettes I would like to explore further. I then research these themes and create moodboards, mind maps and inspiration boards to tease out a theme that represents my brand and customer. From there, I work on my design development and come up with new styles and silhouettes.

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

A sense of place is very important to me. I always design with a particular woman in mind. That woman is usually Irish, whether a businesswoman who has a big event to go to or a bride looking for something unique to wear for her wedding. I want Irish women to raise the bar with fashion and style.

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

I am extremely proud of being Irish and believe Irish people can be as stylish and charismatic as any other nationality in the world.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

I love my ‘Ava’ dress from one of my first ‘Next Day’ collections. It is named after my very cute niece Ava, and I think of her every time it sells; she is a real lucky charm.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Fashion, dogs and my VW Beetle.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Less is more! Elegant clean lines styled with timeless accessories will bring you anywhere.  

 


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  AOIFE ROONEY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit  aoifelifestyle.com for more!  




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in interior architecture and furniture design from the Dublin Institute of Technology and a diploma in fine art textiles/print. I continued to study fashion at the Grafton Academy. I completed a master’s in education and a diploma in business along the way and spent years working in project management. I felt it was time to hone my skills to curate and bring to fruition my circular fashion brand AOIFE®.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

We represented our brand AOIFE® at a circular fashion event alongside National Geographic, with various biochemists who were just as passionate about circular fashion and sustainability. Other defining moments include being chosen in Create ’21, stocked in Brown Thomas Dublin and the recent selection for VOGUE UK’s accessory gallery.  


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

We have continued plans to grow and expand our sustainable luxury lifestyle brand nationally and internationally; this has always been the intention since making solid preparations in 2017 when we registered our brand globally.

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

Together with our customers, we champion a new consciousness and eco-friendly culture in contemporary circular fashion.  

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Our name (pronounced EE-fa) is Irish for “beauty.” Like the circular beauty found in nature, AOIFE® is an Irish brand that is innovatively circular in its design principles, demonstrating how brands can be innovative, modern and fully sustainable while maintaining high-standard, quality products.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

There is such a unique, creative talent in Ireland. The WearingIrish movement is a beautiful celebration and appreciation of this talent and a great support network for Irish designers. Margaret is excellent at creating awareness about Irish design.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone who adorns our products stands for so much more than a fashion statement. Our tribe wants to see a positive change in fashion now, and we are supporting this shift in mindset towards sustainable circular fashion. Our gender-neutral products support ecological and social initiatives; we help restore natural resources while producing functional quality products for people to enjoy. And for every product we sell, we plant a tree in Ireland and donate to ocean cleanup; my mission is deeply rooted in a vision I hope for the future.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Our products are handcrafted from regenerated, reclaimed and bio-based materials. Every aspect of production is carefully planned to establish a circular model. I aim to use what we already have as resources to create rather than using virgin materials in the production process. After the designs and technical packs are developed, an accessory sample is made from cork to test the product’s function before moving to the following creative process. We help transform fabrics destined for landfills into new textiles; we buy yarn created from ghost fishing nets and we custom make our fabrics before the bags are created in Italy.

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

Ireland has and always will inspire my creative process. Our entire brand and its original color palette were made from natural resources and dyes derived from Irish vegetation found in the environment and an organic, delicate fine art printing process. Literally, from the roots up, I wanted our customers to pick up an AOIFE® product and know it is an Irish product simply by looking at the authentic color palette. I knew the roots of this color palette and development process would allow me to speak about our Irish heritage.

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

“Níl a tinteán mar do thinteán féin, mar a déarfá!” (There is no place like home!). Sounds like something out of The Wizard of Oz! But I think they must have borrowed the most famous Irish proverb! I speak Irish, breathe the culture, the craic, love the chancers and absolutely adore the people. There is no doubt being Irish has influenced my creations; looking at my Instagram grid lately all I could see was the tricolor!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Without a doubt, it must be our convertible Gallery Totes—a versatile, lightweight statement piece that features multiple pockets and compartments. Each bag is designed with the care and attention that is associated with our brand. The luxury tote to backpack has been crafted with your lifestyle and posture in mind and features extendable straps, compartments for your phone, laptop, accessories and keys. We realize that design needs to be more than just a fashion statement. We have put great thought into creating an optimized bag to protect and enhance your posture. The backpack distributes weight evenly and offers multiple carrying options such as extendable and detachable straps. Our design allows you to switch styles easily whilst always ensuring support and comfort, navigating from day to night seamlessly in comfort.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Love, laughter and good health. (And a glass of Tuscan vino!)
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A quality jacket, shoes and of course, a multi-functional stylish, sustainable bag!  

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

I believe you can be many things in life. I am a qualified teacher and an avid life-long learner. There is a saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson that I love and resonates in how I would strive to live my life: “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—that is to have succeeded.”
 


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  SIOBHAN QUINN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Siobhan Quinn of BallyBoy Design.

Visit ballyboydesign.ie for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I worked in marketing and management consulting but had a lifelong love of Irish fashion and design and always wanted to set up my own business. Some years ago, I was searching for an Irish-made cape for myself. My search was fruitless, and thus BallyBoy Design was born.  

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Deirdre McQuillan published a piece on me in The Irish Times; the phone started ringing after that!  


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

For BallyBoy Design to be recognized worldwide as synonymous with quality Irish design.

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

Luxurious Irish tweed capes with sumptuous silk linings in vibrant colors that reflect the beautiful hues of the Irish countryside. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

The townland where I live in County Longford.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

I think WearingIrish is a fantastic initiative that has taken on a life of its own and continues to grow and bring the quality and breadth of Irish design to a worldwide audience.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am very influenced by the colors and textures of the Irish landscape and my travels abroad. I take photos, gather bits and pieces, create mood boards. I love talking to women about what they want from a garment and then playing around with prototypes and keep refining and refining.

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

Reflecting our Irish heritage and Ireland’s incredible and varied landscapes, BallyBoy Design reinterprets traditional Irish tweed in a contemporary fashion. Sumptuous colors inspired by the nature we see around us, such as sunburst yellow, sapphire blue, and fuchsia pink, are used in the tweed and silk lining.

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

It is crucial that I use quality Irish textiles and that my products are made in Ireland. Each cape is hand-cut and perfectly crafted to be worn, kept and loved forever; that is the essence of what BallyBoy Design is all about.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

A cape I made especially for an Arc Fashion Show—extra-long and with stunning feather epaulets. It has the “wow” factor.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Barry’s tea, a daily walk and dark chocolate.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

You can’t beat having a good white shirt and a black polo neck in your wardrobe; they will bring you anywhere.  

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

I love cooking for friends and family.  


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  RUTH MCEWAN-LYON

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Ruth McEwan-Lyon of NI Silver.

Visit nisilver.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My name is Ruth, and I run nisilver.com from my home studio in Holywood, Northern Ireland (NI). I make quality Irish jewelry that represents home and where your ancestors lived. I also undertake commission work and host bespoke/VIP beginner’s jewelry-making workshops. Memories of Ireland are closer than you think! 

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The most defining moments of my career are following my creative passion and realizing that with lots of hard work I can achieve running my own successful business around my family whilst keeping our own and my father’s name alive forever. #livingthedream  


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To leave my mark around the world so that someone will look at a piece of jewelry in years to come and, after researching the hallmark, will know my name and when I made it. Knowing that I have enough of a following to keep my business successful, unique and bespoke enough while reaching a more global market. I don’t want to grow into a big brand; I thoroughly enjoy the level of success that the brand has achieved.

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

It sounds cliché, but customer service is the heart and soul of my brand. I am a sole trader who works tirelessly to give my clients exactly what they want. I work far too many hours, but I’d rather my jewelry family were pleased, so that pleasure gives me the ultimate sense of fulfillment.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Most other jewelry artists use their name as their brand. I wanted something different that would let my customers remember me if they couldn’t remember my name, so coming from Northern Ireland (N.I.) and making silver jewelry seemed an obvious choice: NI Silver.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE?

My dream muse is Sophie Peirce-Evans, aka Lady Mary Heath, for her courage, bravery and dogged determination. I have always tried to live my life this way and experience everything when the opportunities present themselves. You only get one shot, after all! My life has been a myriad of unusual experiences and living it to the full. #noregrets

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

I love the boldness of the WearingIrish movement. We are small, but we are mighty creative, and our designs are world-class. Helping each other along the business journey is also very important to me and being part of this group is a real privilege.
WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

I want locals, expats, tourists, historians, trendsetters and silver surfers to wear Irish jewelry. Everyone deserves something that evokes memories of Ireland and what better way than to wear something precious close to your heart.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I use various traditional jewelry-making techniques to create my pieces. Generally drawing, then piercing (hand-sawing) out a piece of silver/gold, filing it down, texturing and shaping it before soldering, polishing and finishing it. Other techniques involve carving wax and casting or melting metal to create unique forms.

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

I returned to Belfast when the country was starting its revitalization/restoration process, and the energy around Northern Ireland was infectious. I wanted to create a “little piece of home” for everyone to send out worldwide, something valuable and wearable, allowing them to touch/feel home (Ireland) again.

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

Living overseas for years has taught me that being Irish makes you the most friendly and acceptable nation in the world, hands down, ergo anything made here is sought-after!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our beautiful solid silver or gold 20g Dara Knot pendant, which represents the sacred Oak tree empowering leadership, strength and wisdom.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Family, work and being outdoors.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

I am not known for my dress sense, but I love wearing my lip gloss and earrings.  

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

Oh my goodness, lots of worldly life experiences, but to name two, I have flown on the Concorde before it was retired and have recently dived in the Maldives with whale sharks!  


MEET THE DESIGNERS |  BETZY MEDINA

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Betzy Medina of Sandia.

Visit sandiadublin.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

My background is quite broad, from going to engineering school to working in Tv production for more than 10 years and moving to Dublin in 2010 to learn English and work in bars and restaurants until I decided my creativity was coming out in jewellery form. I grew up surrounded by creative people in a family of architects and musicians. I also remember my mom buying jewellery to resell back in the 80’s.  


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Winning the Irish Made 2018 in the jewellery category for the Irish Country Magazine was the most defining moment of my career so far. I believe my pieces are very unique and innovative. Being around markets, shops and daily life around Ireland for a couple of years have shown stylish people and fashion lovers what Sandia Dublin designs really are.  

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

Selling in New York and London best fashion boutiques.

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

Bright, Light, Bold.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Sandia is my mother’s surname, Dublin is where my brand was born.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Vivianne Westwood

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

To see the amount of amazing designers and their creativity.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone anywhere in the world who loves style and color.

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

In my case, living in Dublin and walking around the city has given me a great source of inspiration. I can always see people wearing their own style mixing irish brands, second hand, vintage, retro and high street combined perfectly to express their own personality.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The V-Shape Necklace definitely. It’s big, bright, very attractive and extremely light weight.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Creativity, Music and Cheese.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Clean hair and good shoes.  

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

I’m from Venezuela and I’ve been living in Ireland since 2010. I also work in radio and music inspires me everyday.  


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JULIE PEELO

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit peelo.ie for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’m a graduate of fashion textiles from NCAD Dublin. I spent over 20 years working as an accessory designer for international fashion brands including Marni in Milan, John Galliano’s studio in Paris, setting up the accessory division for DVF in New York and then reinvention of Juicy Couture. Coming full circle and moving home to Dublin, I was so thrilled to set up my own studio and brand here called PEELO.  


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Walking in on my first day at John Galliano’s’ Paris studio and seeing all the craftspeople working away in the atelier dressed in their white coats, hand sewing embellishments onto a beautiful couture gown was a real pinch-me moment. Seeing a necklace I created for Marni on the cover of British Vogue was also an incredibly career-defining moment for me.  

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To become an internationally recognized Irish accessories brand.

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

I’m passionate about creating quality accessories. PEELO creates modern pieces that people will love and cherish.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

It’s my family name; I wanted something simple and could be unisex as a brand.

YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My dream muse is Saoirse Ronan. I adore her style and the varied acting roles she chooses for herself. They’re always so challenging and unique. I’ve never met her but would definitely hope to one day!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

I’m so incredibly proud to be Irish, and I love to wear and support Irish designers and artists, so I adore what the Wearing Irish movement has created. It gives designers great exposure and has helped elevate many Irish brands to an international level.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I am forever inspired by art and culture. For my latest collection, which launched as we were emerging from the pandemic, I wanted to create something that sparked positivity and joy. I had purchased a beautiful colorful print from Irish print maker Luke Reidy before Christmas. It was the foundation and inspiration for the colors I used, and we created a series of bright colorful bags together.

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

For me, being Irish means knowing what is important in life; valuing loyalty, friendship and family. It has influenced me in my creations to be positive and courageous.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
First would have to be my family. As crazy and chaotic as family life is with three small children and juggling a business, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a working mom, time is always at a premium, so my organizer is the second thing I cannot live without. And third is my daily walk when I can reset and carve some headspace for myself.
YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Always add some color to an outfit, whether it’s a bright scarf, handbag or even something as small as painting your nails. 

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

My husband believes I have an insanely large collection of handbags; I don’t agree with him. 


MEET THE DESIGNERS | MÁIRÍN NÍ BHEACHÁIN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

In this series, meet the designers and hear their stories. Here Margaret chats with Máirín Ní Bheacháin of Mise Collars.

Visit misecollars.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I’m a Dublin-born girl and love this city. I attended Trinity College and loved browsing the shops and frequenting the cafés as a student—and still do!
I have always been a lover of fashion, style and color. Both of my parents love to travel, and as a result, we spent many holidays in Europe; I later traveled to Canada, America, Central America and Vietnam. Traveling is always so inspiring in terms of colors, people, traditions and people.
As a personal stylist, I work with men and women on developing their sense of style. For me, styling is about having fun and taking charge of how you present yourself to the world.
I love to accessorize, and in November 2020, during Covid, I began to think of ways to bring style and color to the screen, and Mise Collars was born! 


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Waking up on a Saturday morning, drinking a cup of coffee and seeing Mise Collars featured in the Irish Times Weekend Magazine in a piece by Deirdre McQuillan. 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would love to make a bespoke Mise Collar for Roisin Murphy.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement is a brilliant concept. I love the idea that I can put one of my collars in the post, and within a few days, it will find a new home somewhere in the world.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone anywhere in the world who loves style and color.

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

Growing up, my dad spoke Irish to us, and we attended an all-Irish speaking school. Even my mum, who was born in Belfast and emigrated to Canada as a five-year-old learned Irish! I love how it sounds, and it has contributed to my strong sense of where I belong. I spent a lot of time down in Connemara and loved the way of life there. The Irish language is very musical and is very similar to French, which I went on to learn. Plus, it comes in handy when traveling!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Walking, chocolate and color.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Have one focal point in your outfit. 

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

Growing up, I loved to read. In March 2016, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Moyamoya. The only treatment was brain surgery which I underwent and during which I suffered a stroke. When I woke up, I was unable to speak, read or write but I was alive! I began a 2.5-year journey to learn to read and write again. When something like this happens, it makes you think about what you really want to do with your life. I knew I wanted to do something creative. I volunteer with Dress for Success and now run my own personal styling business (www.MoStyle.ie), give talks on new beginnings and now, Mise Collars (www.misecollars.com).
 


MEET THE DESIGNERS | STUART MCGRATH

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit armoura.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I enjoyed a career as a master sculptor restoring historical architecture and designing monuments incorporating ornamentation, typography and symbolism. In 2012, I had an accident which meant I could no longer work on large scale sculptures. This influenced me to follow my true passion—designing contemporary jewelry based on the principles learnt through sculpture. My pieces retain the distinctive characteristics of form, weight, finesse and a tactile nature. 


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

One moment that stands out is having several of my pieces featured in Swarovski’s annual design trend forecasting book for the past four years. The book is sent to all the finest fashion design houses around the world in order to show what might be in style over the coming years. It was an honor to be included in this, and I received a lot of great feedback from interesting companies around the world.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I want Armoura Jewelry to continue to push the boundaries of innovative design and bring this to a global audience.

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

The heart and soul of the brand is to design ranges that encompass understated elegance that have a subtle wow factor with very refined taste, precious and semi-precious stones.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

Armoura is a play on the word ‘armour/armor’ and the fact that jewelry often acts as an amulet and talisman to the wearer, acting like a suit of armor. The name also plays on the French word for ‘love/passion,’ which is ‘amour.’

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Saoirse Ronan has a great sense of classic style and exquisite taste when it comes to award dresses and gowns.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I’m a huge fan of Gwen Stefani’s style, and I would enjoy the process of designing a collection with her as I imagine that she would bring so much energy, creativity and fresh perspective to any project.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

For thousands of years, Ireland has cultivated a heritage of fine crafts such as silver and goldsmithing, crystal to woolens and more. WearingIrish shines a spotlight on exciting designers who are putting crafts and contemporary design on the world stage to people who may not be aware otherwise.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Creativity is central to our DNA in Ireland, whether that be through music, literature or art. I am lucky to have been exposed and nurtured through an environment that values this innovation in our culture. It has allowed me to transition from working through the medium of stone to precious stones. My customers come from all different countries, backgrounds and cultures; the one thing that binds them together is a high regard for refined design and sumptuous materials.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I find a lot of inspiration in cities as well as while hiking; it can be a moment anywhere that inspires a design. Then I explore concepts through a lot of sketching. Once a design is finalized, it is created by hand and then cast into metal, stones set into it before final polishing.

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

Ireland has such an abundant history of craft, design, artifacts, storytelling, myths and legends, and impressive landscapes that help foster a fertile canvas for creativity. Due to our geographical location and a thirst for international travel, Ireland also benefits from various subtle international style influences from all over Europe and the Americas, which feed into my concepts and collections.

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

Being Irish, I believe that we value and draw on our rich tapestry of heritage and culture while also looking outward and appreciating it in other nations and striking a balance of influences in design to reinterpret and produce new innovative collections.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ statement earrings are a fun depiction from the song lyric and incorporate 14K white gold, a yellow diamond, clear diamonds, mother of pearl and colored sapphires representing the rainbow. These are sure conversation starters!

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

  1. My family, my wife and three children (including twins) are always so playful and creative that it reminds me to have fun and explore possibilities while I’m designing as one can sometimes get into the technical process too quickly. My eldest daughter, Naomi’s artwork inspired my ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ earrings. She is delighted to remind me of this!
  2. Travel, I love going to new places to see architecture, local styles and fashions, and trying new foods. As the saying goes, it ‘broadens the mind.’
  3. My drawing studio, having a place of calm that has my sketchbooks, pencils, laptop and music is an oasis where I can focus on designing for hours on end to develop new and interesting ranges.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

My customers have shared with me that investing in a fine-jewelry piece brings individualism to any outfit.

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

Having spent a summer in Cararra, Italy learning to sculpt marble in the same place where Michelangelo carved the David, as well as many other eminent sculptures, helped shape my understanding of form, texture and design.  


MEET THE DESIGNERS | SUSANNAGH GROGAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit susannaghgrogan.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

From Wexford, Ireland, my lifelong love of print design began at Wimbledon College of Art UAL London. I specialised in Printed Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art & Design UAL London. From there, I developed my skills working as Surface Pattern/Textile Designer and Art Director for studios and designer labels in New York, London and Cape Town.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The moments change and come and go but being awarded ‘Accessory Designer of the Year’ at The Fashion Innovation Awards and being awarded ‘Best New Product Award’ and ‘Best Overall Creative Island Award’ from The Designs Craft Council of Ireland at Showcase Ireland’s premium show were all very proud moments. For St Patrick’s Day at the White House, Ireland’s Attorney General, Máire Whelan, gave a Susannagh Grogan scarf to Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. My scarves have been chosen by the US-Irish Alliance pre-Oscar party as gifts for guests that included Michelle Williams and Melissa McCarthy. Gaining commissions to design for The Royal Collection and Aerlingus gave the label a great kudos. Mrs. Higgins wore one of my scarves to the opening of BLOOM, which was a lovely surprise seeing it on the front pages of the press.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I just celebrated 10 years of Susannagh Grogan Design. In an appreciation of slow fashion, last year, I decided to design a simple range that was non-seasonal: an ongoing/permanent collection. The Empowerment collection was to launch into shops here & in the USA in March. The collection was designed as a talisman, a token of affection, a gift to others or yourself—to someone who needs to be reminded how loved, strong, brave, extraordinary or empowered they are. Each scarf has the option of the empowering word in English or Irish. The English word scarves come with a postcard with relevant, inspirational quotes and the Irish with a translation card.

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

It is born from a love of print, colour and an appreciation of excellent design. It is designed to induce a feel-good and fun factor as well as a bit of luxury. And ultimately, our customer is our #1 priority.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM?

It is my name; it is important to me that quality and standards are kept high and that I continue to be proud of using it.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Anyone who chooses to buy from my brand, either for themselves or as a gift, is my muse. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of every single one of our customers. I love it when I see someone wearing one of my pieces; I am so thankful.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

My background as a surface pattern/print textile designer spans 25 years, so I have a great deal of experience in collaborating and designing with and for other labels. Since launching my own label, I have had some great collaborations with Anthropologie UK & USA (one season my scarf was #1 seller in the USA), Aer Lingus and The Royal Collection/Buckingham Palace label—so more of the same, please. I was working on collaborative projects near completion, before the pandemic, so I hope that those can still come to fruition.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARING IRISH MOVEMENT?

Ireland has a tiny fashion industry, so any outside support that increases the profile of Irish designers abroad is most welcome, to be applauded and thanked. It is great to get support and a platform to bring our work to new customers as that is one of the main obstacles, getting in front of your customers.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone who appreciates good original design and gets pleasure from it. There is such a broad range of Irish design to suit any aesthetic. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I design two collections a year for my scarf range, and I have a collection of holiday tunic cover-ups. I start with sketching and hand painting, and it evolves from there. It is quite instinctive now when I design a collection. I use Photoshop to fine-tune for printing and final production in Como, Italy. I have been a print designer for nearly three decades, so I now have strong commercial knowledge, and with commissions, I would work closely together to put a client’s vision into reality.

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

I live beside the sea in Killiney, Dublin, and the sea air and beautiful walks locally give me the headspace and calm to be creative. I have lived in many places all over the world, and this is my favourite; it suits me.

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

 I am incredibly proud of my heritage. My first scarf collection 10 years ago had a print derived from a sea bass caught off the coast of Donegal, and the scarves had Oscar Wilde quotes printed on them. They are still in my permanent collection and one of my best-selling ranges.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

 I launched my EMPOWERMENT Collection this year, it is an ongoing permanent addition to my range in recognition of slower fashion. It has been designed as a talisman, a token of affection, a gift to others or yourself—to someone who needs to be reminded how loved, strong, brave, extraordinary or empowered they are. There are five different prints with ten words, and each scarf has the option of an empowering word in English or Irish. They are very personal to me and getting such a positive reaction with press and sales.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My dog, Messi a miniature wirehaired dachshund who keeps me company on my long coastal and mountain walks. My family. And my network of friends scattered around the world.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Don’t be too precious with a silk scarf. Often they look better slightly thrown on.

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

I am a competitive sea rower with Dalkey Rowing Club, rowing traditional wooden skiff boats. Last year, I rowed across the Irish Sea to the Welsh coast as part of an all-female crew of 12, which took us 19 hours 27 minutes.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | SHAUNA KEOGH

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit 5428apparel.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I was born and raised in Dublin, the youngest of three girls.  I moved to London in my early twenties, where I worked in the media industry before relocating to New York in 2009.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I don’t have one defining moment as such, but I do have many life experiences that have brought me to where I am today. My move to the United States and being nominated for an Emmy was a great achievement. But it’s the people I have met along the way and the lessons I have learned—the good and the bad—that has been my defining moments to date.  

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to have 5428 Apparel in every territory globally and to have the LGBT brand sold in stores where you can purchase the product 365 days of a year, for every occasion—birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.—not just when Gay Pride comes around once a year. 


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

It’s all about identity and inclusion—having a line of clothing that the LGBT community can identify with and feel part of is crucial. 

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Matthew Williamson and Lady Gaga. 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

The objective of 5428 Apparel is to have as many nationalities and genders WearingIrish. Just like the messaging of the brand, it’s all about inclusion. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Developing an idea from my head, moulding, and shaping it into the final product is what I enjoy most.  The creative part is by far, my passion; it’s all about the connection you build through your work. People relate to people, and we are all emotionally connected.  The creation of my brand came from my connection with my clothing while I was still struggling with my sexuality and coming to terms with my internal homophobia.  While I was struggling to accept myself, I could relate to others in the community through my clothing; it gave me a sense of belonging and identity. I also wanted to create a line of clothing that wasn’t always heavily branded with rainbows and unicorns to illustrate sexuality. The creation of the logo with the numbers 5428 was code for LGBT and having it in the enclosed bracket was how you feel connected in the community. I felt growing up, dealing with my sexuality, that I fell outside the bracket, but I turned that into a positive and wanted it as part of the logo.

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

I am immensely proud of growing up in Ireland and being Irish. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, and there is no place like home.  My country hugely inspired the creation of 5428 Apparel.  The support and acceptance from my family, friends but more importantly, the support the country showed for equality. It’s hard to believe that not so long ago it was a crime to be gay in Ireland. I look at how far we have come, and to create a brand that represents being gay and being Irish is what I am immensely proud of.

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

Being Irish means so much to me; it’s at the core of who I am. No matter where I have travelled in the world, I have met Irish people and the connection, and the reception has always been the same.  We shoot our content on location in Ireland to showcase our heritage and where we came from. I feel that love for one’s heritage increases when you are away. Coming back always brings that sense of pride.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family, food, and being able to create.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Wear whatever makes you feel good. 

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

I am a massive advocate for empowerment, and I would always advise others to do what they want and be what they want to be.  Don’t let anyone tell you, you can and cannot achieve something.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | EMILY JEAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit emily-jean.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started with a third level qualification in jewellery, fashion & textiles. I then went onto study millinery at the London College of Fashion.  Following this, I interned with established milliners in the UK and with Maison Michel, the millinery house of Chanel in Paris.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Opening my first boutique atelier in Galway city in 2007 was a defining moment in my career. I had an established client and supplier base, so I felt confident to take the next step with a boutique atelier where I could work with clients in a more professional environment.  

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement inspires me to keep thinking global while surrounding myself with a truly authentic Irish brand.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone who embodies a sense of Irish culture.  They don’t have to be Irish, but if they relate to a sense of Irishness, then they will carry and showcase Irish craft at its best.


TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

I design two collections a year: autumn/winter and spring/summer. Each season is inspired by what is current and relevant in today’s market, along with my signature twist.  I visit trade shows in Europe, where I source unique trimmings and fabrics. These raw materials influence and inspire the creative process.

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

I am fortunate to live and work on the shores of the wild Atlantic way. The raw and rugged landscape is ever-changing and never ceases to inspire.  Ireland has a robust heritage and sense of identity. We are recognized internationally for our natural fabrics and unique creative skills. My artistic journey began at a very young age, and as I progressed in my career, I traveled further afield. It was during my time abroad that I began to have a deeper understanding of the Irish craft and how important it is for me to have my roots in Irish soil.

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

Irish heritage has influenced my creations from linen, to lace and even Aran knits.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My bespoke embellished headband.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Needle, thread and thimble!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A simple headband can add a touch of glamour to any outfit; it will stylishly bring you from day to night.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JACQUELINE QUINN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit jacquelinequinn.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I started at Grafton Academy of Fashion Design in Dublin. I then moved to New York in 1995 and was a designer for Jessica Simpson, head designer for DKNY and the creative director for Betsey Johnson.  I currently started my clothing line that launched in the US in 2019 and Europe in 2020.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being named head designer at DKNY.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

For more women to experience the brand and feel fabulous wearing it.

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

Feminine, sustainable and timeless.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My love of Jacqueline Kennedy; I was also named after her.


WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My fascination with Mrs. Kennedy and her iconic style.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

It is coming true currently, now that I can design with the Kennedys for my Jacqueline Kennedy brand.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The fact that WearingIrish exposes so much Irish talent and creativity.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Those who want to help promote the designers who show their Irish creativity.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

At the beginning of every season, I research mood boards, magazines, books, movies, and wait to be inspired. When that inspiration comes, that is when the real creative process begins with choosing fabrics, colors and much more.

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

Currently, for my master’s in fine arts and fashion, I am studying Georgian house stucco in Ireland, and it has influenced a new fabric for my collection.

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

I have been exposed to great Irish painters and writers, and so many of them have been a source of inspiration for my collections; my favorite Irish painter is Jack Butler Yeats.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

I purchased the original sketches of the inaugural gala gown that Oleg Cassini designed for Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 and it has influenced a lot of my work.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My daughter and her success in fashion, my dog Coco and a good manicure.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Black with good accessories.

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

Being told by my Harvard professor that my writing skills were very strong opened new horizons for me. 


MEET THE DESIGNERS | HELEN HAYES

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit helenhayesclothing for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I originally studied graphic design at the Limerick School of Art and Design. After my daughter started school, I went back and studied fashion design at the Grafton Academy. Since graduating, I have begun building up my brand.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Being one of the designers selected to participate in ‘Create,’ a showcase of Irish design organized each year by Brown Thomas Dublin, one of Ireland’s premier stores.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I want to build a brand reputation for pieces that are crisp and contemporary with very well considered design details. 


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

I want to combine my background as a graphic designer and my love of exquisite packaging with my love of textiles to create pieces that are tactile with hand-crafted details in a very contemporary, sculptural way.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

There is more than one, and it is the mind-set of each, and many others, that I find the most inspiring. The first time I saw a piece by Madame Grès, I was blown away. Likewise, the pleated garments by Sybil Connolly. They both took an idea, explored it, and developed it, and truly made it their own. It is this sense of determination and individuality I admire.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I love the work of Joseph Walsh who makes wonderful pieces in wood. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

We have an ancient heritage of craft and textiles in Ireland, which allows us to stand apart internationally. This heritage fits perfectly with the slow fashion movement that has emerged. 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Women who value our rich heritage and contemporary design.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

This varies depending on the project. I like to start on a small scale and develop an idea with paper. I do a lot of work on half-size dummies exploring shape and silhouette.  I spend a lot of time sourcing fabric and developing textures, tweaking as I progress until it all comes together.

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

I grew up on a farm in the middle of Ireland, surrounded by a wonderful culture of weaving and knitting.  Most people consider my work to be quite urban, but to me, it all stems from nature and a love of native crafts.

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

It means rich colours, woven fabrics, dramatic scenery, and architectural innovation. It is an exciting time to be Irish when individuality is embraced and encouraged.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

My red satin ‘squares’ skirt. This was my first ‘squares’ piece made from over 225 individual squares that are I hand-cut, hand-folded, and hand-sewn together.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Books, coffee, and my daily walk.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A beautiful white shirt is perfect for any occasion.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LOUISE ELLIOTT

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit fishermanoutofireland.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I studied at NCAD Dublin and graduated in 1991. That summer, I went to NYC on a J1 student work visa with my portfolio in hand. I was very fortunate within a short space of time to land a design job at DKNY. Later, I worked at Fenn Wright Manson. Then I worked with Adrienne Vittadini before returning to my native Cork in September 1997 to accept a job as a designer for Fisherman Out of Ireland, which is owned by Blarney Woollen Mills.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

In December 2000 when Bill Clinton was in Dublin, he picked up a Fisherman sweater from the old Blarney Woollen Mills shop on Nassau St. The heading on a news story in The Irish Times the following day was “Purchase of a new jumper brings traffic to a standstill.” So, you see, sometimes a good sweater can stop everyone in their tracks!


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I’d like to see the Fisherman brand increase its profile at home and abroad in more of the upscale retail settings.          

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

That would have to be the dedicated, tight-knit group of skilled people that work at the factory in Kilcar, County Donegal where everything is made.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It comes from both our location and inspiration—the Irish coastal landscape and its fishing communities.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

For women, I think Bono’s wife, Ali Hewson looks relatable, cool and comfortable in her own skin and I admired her Edun mission. My not shy, American husband beside me here is saying he is my male muse.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

To work with a prestigious department store such as Selfridges, Liberty London or Barneys New York.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

WearingIrish has given much needed valuable exposure to the many talented designers creating right here in Ireland.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Anyone with good taste who cares about provenance.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

It all starts with the yarn, which then becomes a knitted fabric and finally a garment. I work with spinning mills to create, in some cases, bespoke yarns and colours. The next step is stitch and pattern development to create the fabrics and then finally designing the knitwear shapes. Trips to Pitti Filati yarn show, London and Donegal along the way all provide the ingredients with which to make the cake that is the next collection.

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

Knitwear is all about texture, colour and handle, and the beautiful, Irish coastal landscape has this in abundance. I am very blessed to be a part of creating a brand that is produced right here in Ireland as there is nowhere else I’d rather be.

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

I was born in England to Irish parents, and we moved back to County Cork as kids. As a child, my very “proud to be Irish” mother knit outfits for my dolls and Aran sweaters for Blarney Woollen Mills. She was my most significant influence and fan and was buried in a willow coffin in her favourite Fisherman cardigan.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

First introduced in 2006, our two-button, horizontal ribbed cardigan for women continues to be our absolute best seller every year.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

When on working trips in Donegal it’s my hot water bottle, healthy packed lunches, and Seamus, our knitwear programmer, he makes it all happen.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

If an outfit looks good on you, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve worn it or how many people have seen you in it already; it looks good on you! This is what the “buy less, buy better” message ultimately entails.

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

I’m not a limelight loving person, but I do enjoy seeing a Fisherman sweater pass me by on the street.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JENNIFER KIERNAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit scribbleandstone.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I grew up in the north inner city of Dublin and have since studied commerce, fashion, and textiles and have qualifications in graphics, too. In 2010, I jointly set up the collaborative retail space Design Lane in Dublin’s Temple Bar. Work from over 50 local designers & makers is sold there, and I have been selling my own products under the brand Scribble & Stone since then. I now focus on developing jewellery products and have supplied probably about 40 shops over the years.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

Probably being interested in music because I saw how amazing things started as small ideas. As a student, I knew a lot of DJs, producers, and promoters who had launched labels, club nights, or festivals on a shoestring. Edinburgh, where I went to art college, was great for that; so entrepreneurial and inclusive. For the first time, I could see how someone could be self-employed and create a job if they remained focused and committed. It gave me that entrepreneurial courage to do my own thing.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

I would love to expand the business and have more time for the creative rather than the business side. I would love to outsource all production, bearing in mind sustainability and fair trade, so we could focus on design. I would like to go back to textiles too in some way, and I have plans to do some things with a fair trade initiative in Nepal this year. I have so many ideas, but trying to fit it all in with family life can be challenging!

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

Eclectic and inclusive!

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Initially, when I started, I was drawing a lot, so “scribble” referenced my illustrations; “stone” referred to gemstones and related to the jewellery.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Cate Blanchett. Not only does she embody great style, intelligence, and beauty, but she does so much good work with the UN and speaks out in support of women’s rights.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to design a collection for Marni. I adore their jewellery collections and would love to work with a big brand like that who have access to top-class production and materials so that all your imaginings could be brought to life in an exceptional, polished way.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The opportunity to bring our products to a broader audience and potentially to be able to develop collections with that in mind, rather than being constrained by the limitations of a slightly conservative local market.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Everyone and anyone who likes the products and wants to support small-scale producers and keep retail diverse and exciting—and not just recognizable high street brands!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

The first part would be research and trend analysis. We tend to survey what’s going on across a lot of areas, from exhibitions to films to what’s happening on the catwalks. I’ll also look at things I’m personally interested in, from architecture to interior design to natural landscapes. From there, we’ll collect visual research and create beautiful mood-boards to use as reference points. Once you are surrounded by things like this, the rest just flows; materials and colours will suggest themselves. You get a feeling for what combinations of elements might work, and then you start to play about draping on a mannequin, or drawing elements that you could get 3D modeled. At this point, a collection will begin to evolve. From there, it’s about refining the ideas and of course, costings.

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

I can’t get away from it to be honest. It seeps into your bones in terms of preferred colours and textures. I grew up in a crumbling 18th-century Georgian house in the north inner city so peeling paint, distressed surfaces, muted colours look normal to me. I always return to that in terms of textures and palette and when working with colour, it’s always more muted, with shiny gold to brighten it. The architecture of the city always inspires, whether its grids and lines of scaffolding and building sites or stacked squares of Perspex inspired by the contemporary buildings of the Grand Canal Dock. I think the weather here and colours of the sea are endlessly inspirational and when developing things, it’s never going to be tropical brights!

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

I’m not sure how to answer that. I guess it’s nice to come from a place that is known for being quite friendly and welcoming. The Irish market does influence my creations as it is small, so that can limit you in terms of what will sell well. People here are so supportive of local brands though, and that’s really lovely, to be honest!

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our triple strand minimal bracelet.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, friends, and laughter.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Statement earrings—currently hoops!

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

My folks are conservationists of an 18th-century building and they were hugely active in the movement to save Georgian Dublin from demolition in the ’60s and ’70s. Thanks to them and their peers in The Preservation Society, North Great George’s Street is now one of the finest preserved and restored examples of an 18th-century street in Ireland.  Perhaps it’s the memories of my Dad meticulously restoring stucco plasterwork with homemade moulds that planted the seed of my creativity!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | LORRAINE ROONEY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit baalandtanit.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I worked in Marketing for over ten years before starting Baal & Tanit. We returned to Ireland from the UK in 2014 after ten years in London. My third child arrived in 2016, at which point I decided to take some time out from consulting. It was during this time Baal & Tanit was born.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

The first time I saw a stranger wearing one of my products abroad. It was only then I allowed myself to believe that what had started as a hobby turned into a small business.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

The brand name refers to the God and Goddess of Ibiza—Baal & Tanit. Ibiza is a place close to my heart; it’s where my husband and I were married.


YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

We have so much variation in our designs that nearly every week we get to work on a new exciting collaboration with a customer. Our customers have creative control, and we will work with them on colours, materials, and design to create what they have in their minds and bring it to life. It keeps it fresh and exciting for us, and we love experimenting with all the different combinations.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

It’s wonderful seeing a focus on Irish fashion and the passion Margaret has for shining the spotlight on Irish designers and brands.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

With so many incredible Irish designers, there is something for everyone. It’s an opportunity to show your support and always have a piece of home with you wherever you are in the world.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Many of the product styles and designs are driven by a passion for creating functional, beautiful pieces that will be useful and serve a purpose while looking great. I love the flexibility of the brand and getting to work on different styles and designs depending on the customer requirements.

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

Living and experiencing the beauty of Ireland can’t but help shape your creative process and thinking. It’s not just the beauty, but more the culture, positivity, and belief that comes from the people which has personally encouraged me to develop the brand.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Our personalized, straw boat hat.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Family, friends, and coffee!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A good blow dry.

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

I worked in professional sport for eight years before starting Baal & Tanit.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | JANE ASPLE

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit emmabyjane.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Before founding my brand, Emma by Jane in 2017, I was a fashion buyer. I studied fashion buying and merchandising at London College of Fashion. I then got a job with Primark in the UK, where I was responsible for designing collections based on current trends, sourcing suppliers, building strategies for the growth of my product areas. After five years with Primark, it was finally time to do my own thing.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

There have been some memorable defining moments which have led me to more significant moments, but one that stands out is being featured in three different issues of British Vogue. I was so shocked when I received the email from the team that I ignored it for a few days—I didn’t believe that it was Vogue! —until a friend made me contact them back.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To be world-renowned.

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

The heart of the brand is the women that we are designing for; they are our inspiration. I created a brand that features high-quality, fashionable pieces but at a more affordable price point because women deserve to treat themselves. Everything we do is for the women who work hard and can’t wait to receive a piece of our jewellery.


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My best friend Emma was wearing half my wardrobe, and someone said “it’s like you’re styled by Jane”—Emma by Jane.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Anine Bing. Her style is incredible, but her journey is even more incredible.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

Anine Bing. She is just an inspiration to me in so many ways.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

We are a small country and to have someone like Margaret spearheading a movement and promoting all the greatness we Irish are producing is exceptional. Margaret is opening doors for us in the United States. It’s incredible and such a joy to watch.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Every woman who believes in themselves and their dreamsand who won’t stop fighting until they achieve them.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

My creative process is never-ending. I mostly get inspired when I am putting an outfit together as I will always think ‘what is it missing?’ And if we don’t have it, I immediately start drawing, so I don’t forget. Once I am satisfied with the design, I brief our suppliers, and we go back and forth for weeks to make sure the supplier has captured every detail. We then receive a sample of the piece; we try it with other pieces in the collection to make sure that our customer can build an outfit with their jewellery and once we are happy the design goes into production. Every piece of Emma by Jane is handmade by amazingly skilled people, and we are so proud of the team we have that help us bring everything to life.

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

Ireland is home. I lived away for six years, and nothing beats coming home. I find the scenery amazing for opening your mind, taking you out of the pressures of life and business. It gives me a chance to breathe, reset, and refocus when I need to.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Blazers are great, no matter what you’re wearing. They add a touch of style and class to any outfit. I have several colours in my wardrobe.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family, my dog, and chocolate.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Accessories! My favourite outfits are a basic tee and jeans and then using all our Emma by Jane pieces to make it unique and to complete the look.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | YVONNE ROSS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit yvonneross.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Initially, I studied Fine Art at Dublin Institute of Technology.  After finishing my degree, I spent some time travelling, falling in love with the rainbow array of gemstones in the markets of Bangkok.  Back home I enrolled in any jewellery short courses available and launched my first business “Yvonne Ross Designs,” selling high-end beaded jewellery in The Loft Market, Dublin.  In 2009 I moved to Kilkenny to take a place on the renowned DccoI Jewellery Skills course, launching my goldsmithing business “Yvonne Ross Jewellery” in 2013.


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

That’s a hard one to answer as there are so many.  If I had to choose just one, I’d have to say winning the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin (Assay) Award in the RDS National Crafts Competition in 2012—just a year after I’d finished my training. It gave me a huge confidence boost at that critical time when I was finished studying but not quite established.  I went on to launch “Yvonne Ross Jewellery” the following year, opening my showroom/studio in Kilkenny City in 2015.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

To continue to work independently of trends, focusing instead on my own evolving collection, creating balanced contemporary pieces using clean lines and quality materials.

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

Contemporary jewellery lovingly handcrafted using traditional goldsmithing skills in the heart of medieval Kilkenny city.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

For my brand name, I kept it simple and descriptive (mostly to make it easy for people to find me).

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

Dawn O’Porter wore a large pair of gold pearl earrings of mine to the Oscars earlier this year, which was a total muse situation.  I love her style.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

There are so many amazing designers out there but keeping it Irish, I’d like to work with Una Burke as I’m a big fan of her leather creations and I think we could make some interesting pieces together.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The #wearingirish movement is a great way to raise the public profile of Irish Design, but it also strengthens the design community here at home by having an online platform where we can connect.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

For my brand, I’d say someone with a keen eye for contemporary design and craftsmanship, but there is such an extensive range of Irish design that there is something for everyone. 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

The creative process varies from piece to piece.  Sometimes inspiration will come from a shape or structure, and I will begin with sketches.  Other times a spectacular gemstone will guide the design.  With a commissioned piece, we start with a design consultation (or two) followed by sketches, the choice of stones and then creating the bespoke piece.

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

I’m based in Kilkenny which is often referred to as the centre of craft in Ireland and have been a member of the “MADE in Kilkenny” craft collective for a few years.  We have makers, from a wide range of traditional crafts, basket weavers, potters, glassblowers, and jewellers to name a few; we work together every year to produce a body of work for a curated exhibition.  This immersion in local, Irish craft has been invaluable to my creative process.

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

Being Irish is an intrinsic part of me and all of us here on the Emerald Isle. Having lived abroad in numerous countries, I can say that there is a particular “way” about the Irish. We are hardworking, creative, often self-deprecating, and generally quick-witted.  I think all of these characteristics influence both the way we work & the creations themselves.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

It would have to be my “Halved Halo” ring. Each ring is handcrafted and individually built around the client’s choice of gemstone, forged in gold, platinum or palladium and finished off with pave set, rare white diamonds.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

It’s family first and foremost—my daughter and fiancé (also our puppy Rosie) and of course the rest of our many siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, in-laws. Both myself and Paul are from large Irish families, so you get the picture! Of course, friends are next in line with crafting jewellery coming in a very important third place.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Jewellery can finish off an outfit, but I always make sure the end result works. It’s a collaboration between clothes and accessories.  A simple outfit showcases large eye-catching jewellery, but if you’re wearing an outfit that’s big and bold simple jewellery tends to work better.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | VIVIEN WALSH

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit vivienwalsh.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

I grew up in a creative environment… my father was a furniture designer and so it seemed very natural for me to follow a career in design. Jewellery came about almost by accident! I am entirely self taught. While I was living in London in the 1980’s I became captivated by the small bead shops around me and decided to try my hand at creating my own pieces. On returning to Ireland I launched my first jewellery collection and have been creating ever since.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

I think my heart skipped a beat the first time I saw someone wearing a piece of my jewellery in real life. I realized, “I’m actually doing this!” Thankfully that feeling never went away, and I still get the same thrill to this day.


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

My ambition is to grow my brand both nationally and internationally through my website and collaborations with like-minded retail partners.

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

I design jewellery to be loved and worn, that makes the wearer feel good.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

It’s my name. For me, it’s important that people know there is a real person behind the brand.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

My current muse is Maria Bernad. I adore her easy-going style.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

To collaborate with Iris Apfel would be amazing; her sense of freedom is inspiring.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

I love the contemporary approach WearingIrish is taking to highlight the creative talent on our small island.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

She is independent and travels her own path. Trends do not define her; instead, she sets her own style. She chooses to wear Irish.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

An idea will strike me: it could be anything, at any time and I might jot down a note or somehow record the memory. When I start to work on that idea, it is the materials themselves that speak to me. I rarely draw. I go directly to my workbench and begin to play with the stones, chains, metal pieces, and that’s when the designs start to flow.

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

The sense of freedom that comes from living on an island is something that influences the person I am and the way I work. Our rich culture and history, along with the natural beauty of our landscape, is a constant inspiration.

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

We are storytellers, romantics, and rebels all rolled into one; my creativity flows from those three things.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Right now, the multi-strand floating pearl necklace from my City collection.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Loved ones, music, and an emerald ring that belonged to my mother.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

Keep it simple and understated and add a pop of interest.

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

Inside, I’m a piano playing architect!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | HOLDEN LEATHER GOODS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit holdenleathergoods.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

Born and bred in Dublin, I started my working life as a trainee hotel manager, at the age of 17. I moved to London at 19 and worked in local government. A course at Cordwainers College (now part of London College of Fashion) in Leathergoods Design and Production caught my eye: this was the beginning of my journey back home, and the beginning of Holden Leathergoods, which I set up in 1989.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

A holiday in Dingle in 1988, which ultimately lead to setting up the workshop in this beautiful and inspiring location.

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

For the Holden name to be totally synonymous with quality and integrity—of design, craftmanship and sustainability.


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

We are dedicated to producing leathergoods of the highest quality you will find anywhere in the world, maintaining a commitment to sustainability and the very opposite of ‘fast fashion’: we are the leather equivalent of the slow food movement! We do our own thing, our way, for people who know their own minds.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Holden is my family name, and I get a great sense of pride when I see it on my work.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I always imagine Audrey Hepburn carrying a Holden ‘Isabel’ bag! Her enduring elegance and style inspire our own modern classics.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

The WearingIrish movement is a great way to encourage and support designers and makers in Ireland to reach a wider audience.

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

There are over 35 million Americans with Irish heritage; if every one of these were to wear or carry just one piece of Irish design, imagine how much growth and security this could bring to Irish designers and makers!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

Most of our bag designs are collaborations between myself and my wife, Claire. We set aside some time to work through new ideas and prototype them, usually when we receive the samples of new leathers we’ve selected from our tanneries in Italy and are buzzing with inspiration and creativity! It’s one of the aspects of my job that I most enjoy.

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

The Dingle Peninsula is not only breathtakingly beautiful, it’s steeped in history, and encompasses so much about being Irish: it has a spiritual draw which continues to this day to attract and inspire creativity in writers, musicians, poets, philosophers, dancers, artists and artisans.

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

Being Irish is an integral part of who I am. My heritage is very important to me: It gives me a sense of place in the world and a pride and confidence in what I do.

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

The Holden ‘Laptop Backpack’—even we have been surprised by its appeal, to men and women. It’s the perfect excuse to treat yourself; useful and practical with all the luxury details you’d expect from a Holden: meticulously handcrafted full grain leather, with a hardwearing soft suede lining.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My family above all else followed closely by coffee and chocolate!

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK?

A classic Holden ‘Aoife’ bag looks equally amazing dressed up for an evening or dressed down with denim; choose a Holden bag you love—you’ll have it for years!

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

This year is the 30th anniversary of Holden Leathergoods! I was a bearded, long-haired 25-year-old when I started all this!


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AOIFE MCNAMARA

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit aoifemcnamara.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

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

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

My phone, Filofax and a pocket sketchbook.

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

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


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AIDEEN BODKIN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit aideenbodkin.com for more! 




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Books, family, and friends.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | NIKI COLLIER

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit designireland.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

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

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

 


WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

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

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

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

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

Coats and hats.

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Hope, my family and textiles.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

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

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

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


MEET THE DESIGNERS | PETER O’BRIEN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit peterobriendesign.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

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

Quiet drama. I love making impact with a whisper. 

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

My name.

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

I like to design for real women.

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

As many people as possible! 

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

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

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

Simplify!

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

I hate electric guitars.


MEET THE DESIGNERS | AISLING DUFFY

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit aislingduffy.co.uk for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

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

Print, hand-embellishment, personal exploration and ethics.

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

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

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

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

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

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

Vintage finds, the freedom to create, and family.

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

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

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

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


MEET THE DESIGNERS | TRIONA SPELLMAN

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit darcybow.ie for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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


WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

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

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

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

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

YOUR DREAM COLLABORATION?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

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

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

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

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

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


MEET THE DESIGNERS | KAREN YATES

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit tayloryates.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

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


WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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

WHAT’S YOUR AMBITION FOR YOUR BRAND?

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

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

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

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

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

WHO IS YOUR DREAM MUSE? WHY?

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

WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

Karen: Everyone!

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

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

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

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


MEET THE DESIGNERS | HEIDI HIGGINS

WEARINGIRISH showcases top designers/brands from Ireland.

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

Visit heidihiggins.com for more!




TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.

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

WHAT WAS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?

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

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

Elegance with a twist!

WHERE DOES YOUR BRAND NAME COME FROM? 

Luckily, it’s my name!


WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT THE WEARINGIRISH MOVEMENT?

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

WHO DO YOU WANT TO WEAR IRISH?

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

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

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

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

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

MOST COVETED ITEM IN YOUR COLLECTION?

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

THREE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

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

YOUR GO-TO STYLING TRICK? 

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