Fashion is on the minds of people around the world, as it’s the time of year when runway shows take over major cities and next season’s trends are presented. While Ireland doesn’t host its own Fashion Week, plenty of our designers are leaving their mark on the industry.
1. Orla Kiely
Orla Kiely is undoubtedly one of our greatest exports in the world of fashion, with her colourful designs being sold around the world today. Kiely was born in Dublin and began her design studies at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in her home city. According to the Independent, she followed up her studies with a stint as a wallpaper and fabric designer in New York before moving to London, where she studied knitwear at the Royal College of Art.
Since then, Kiely’s career has gone from strength to strength, with her childhood in Ireland as an inspiration for her signature prints. "It was lovely," she told the Independent about growing up in Ireland. "The greens, the yellows…the clouds, the skies and the sea. In a sense, it's not colourful, but you do see accents in the wild flowers by the road, or the yellow gorse on the mountains. I love all those dirty colours – and mixed in with sharp brights they look more sophisticated."
2. John Rocha
Another designer associated with Ireland is John Rocha, who was born in Hong Kong but has called Dublin home for nearly 30 years. Rocha has been a prominent name in the fashion industry for decades; in 1993 he was named Designer of the Year at the British Fashion awards and in 2002 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), signifying his enormous contributions to the industry. In addition to designing clothes and accessories, Rocha’s work extends to homewares – he’s even collaborated with Waterford Crystal – furniture, film costumes and hotel interiors.
3. Simone Rocha
As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and that’s certainly the case with John Rocha’s daughter, Simone, who presented her most recent collection at London Fashion Week on 19 February. One of the top young designers of the moment, Simone is another graduate of NCAD.
Like her dad, Simone takes inspiration for her designs from Ireland and her multi-cultural background. “This season’s very much inspired by my grandmothers – my Chinese granny and my Irish granny,” she told Time magazine about her new collection. “My relationship with them and my respect for them made me think about my respect and relationship with clothing. I really wanted to develop this collection more, be a little bit more respectful, so it feels a little bit more grown up.”
4. Philip Treacy
You can’t talk Irish fashion without mentioning Philip Treacy, the great milliner who has designed for everybody from Lady Gaga to Sarah Jessica Parker, and of course, he’s a favourite of the British royal family too. Treacy is a Galway man and another on the long list of successful NCAD graduates. Treacy’s often-flamboyant hats – can anybody forget the creation worn by Princess Beatrice at the Royal Wedding? – have earned him a number of British Fashion Awards for Accessory Designer of the Year and like John Rocha, an OBE for his contributions to the industry.