It is not a secret that Irish people are an artistic bunch. Whether it’s visual, applied or performing arts, we continue to release unforgettable Irish designers and their creations into the world. Even in the fashion industry, we excel. Admittedly, we do not have cities as fashion-forward as those in Italy, France or the UK, but the level and quality of sartorial pieces that we produce in this country is still nothing to turn anyone’s nose up at.
So here is our list of five of the top Irish designers, and where you can go to get their products, whether its jewellery, accessories, or high-fashion garments.
Ireland’s Top Designers
A veteran in the business, Lainey Keogh has been designing knitwear since the 80s, before she presented her first major catwalk show in London Fashion Week, F/W 1997. Not only have supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen modelled her designs, but her textiles have also been used by John Galliano for his F/W 1998 Christian Dior collection.
Her cashmere creations are made with ethically and naturally sourced fibres and dyes, and are so soft to the touch that you might as well have wrapped a scarf made out of clouds around your neck.
Her collections can be found in stores all over the USA and Europe, and in Ireland, you can get her creations from her studio in Roundwood, Co. Wicklow, or in Brown Thomas at Grafton Street in Dublin.
Chupi Sweetman is the imaginative mastermind of Chupi, a brand that is known for its “wild and natural” aesthetic. Each piece has a story and is made with love, whether it’s the swan feather ring that Sweetman casted from a real swan’s feather, or a necklace set depicting the sun, the moon and a star, inspired by E.E. Cummings.
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It’s time Ireland trusts women. . I’m so grateful to have grown up in a household where I was utterly equal to my brother, thanks hugely to my own mother and her battles against sexism and inequality in the 1970’s with the Women’s Movement. But even after those hard fought wins like the right to contraception (we were only allowed it in the 80s) and the right to not be raped within marriage (it was only made illegal in the 90s) we still don’t trust women with their own bodies. . I understand abortion is an incredibly difficult subject for so many people. I've watched friends go through the most heartbreaking decisions; from a teenage pregnancy to a desperately wanted pregnancy that wouldn't survive to term, the women in my life have overwhelmed me with their strength and dignity through some of the worst possible moments. . This is never a simple or easy choice but I believe we have to trust women, we need to give women the right to choose. . I trust my friends, I trust my sisters, I trust my mother, I trust my cousins, I trust my aunts, I trust the incredible women in my life that they are capable of making the right decision for themselves and their bodies in heartbreaking circumstances. I trust women and I so sincerely hope Ireland will too. The referendum today, please make sure your voice is heard. #repealthe8th
It is apparent that Sweetman has developed a genuine love for the brand and its customers, as she posts the story of her customers on the Chupi Instagram page (many of which fly from all over the world just to collect engagement rings!). Whatever item you choose is individually handcrafted using traditional goldsmithing methods, and is guaranteed to have that distinct Irish charm.
You can get your own at the brand’s flagship store on the top floor of the Powerscourt Townhouse in South William Street, or online at chupi.com
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I remember the first moment I made a dress with magic ✨ You know that moment when you try on a dress and do a little twirl for the mirror? That’s the moment I knew I’d made something special. It was my first proper collection for Topshop and I was in love 💗 . Quitting fast fashion was one of the scariest and best things I’ve ever done, when Brian proposed with the most perfect Grey Diamond ring I fell in love with how jewellery marks a moment and lasts a lifetime; it’s an heirloom we are minding for the next generation ⚡️ Getting to make the pieces that become part of someone’s life is the most incredible privilege 💖 . My partner Kate Nolan and I are both ex fast fashion, we founded @atriumdublin because we’ve always been in love with how fashion can make you feel 🥂 We’ve let so many incredible people over the last two years since we started, from being in Nairobi meeting silk producers to amazing makers right here in Dublin ❤️ . And suddenly it all just came together, we designed a very small collection of beautiful dresses and tops! Our brilliant team @siobhanrafter @instannique in @atriumdublin did the print and detail, the silk was printed in Scotland, made right here in Dublin and a percentage from each dress is going to to some of the most wonderful women’s charities ⚡️ We have it in store, it’s a tiny collection and limited edition, made with love just the way I like it. . It’s kind of magical to be back ☺️
Theo and George
Theo and George may be the youngest brand in this list, but there is no doubt that it is one of Ireland’s fastest growing independent fashion houses.
Its designer, Katelyn O’Riordan, has a background in architecture and sportswear, and combines both of these disciplines to create the perfect capsule wardrobe for women. Her catchphrase, “Everyday Effortless,” captures the brand perfectly, as each piece is designed to be worn comfortably everyday by women who do not have the time to pick out their perfect outfit, or worry about whether that shirt goes with those shoes.
Not only that, but O’ Riordan has made sure that the materials used in each piece comes from a sustainable source, and that each piece would look good on any woman of any body shape and size. You can get her designs from her website, theoandgeorge.com. She also hosts pop-up shops nationwide throughout the year.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that no sartorially-minded person has not heard of Philip Treacy. A hatmaking extraordinaire, his creations have appeared in the runways of renowned brands such as Alexander McQueen, Chanel and Ralph Lauren, and has been worn by royalties and celebrities alike.
These days, Treacy is based in London, but he was born and raised in Galway and was initially trained at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin before pursuing a masters in millinery in London.
His designs have a distinct aesthetic, often eclectic but always structurally beautiful. In Ireland, some of his hats can be found at the Design Centre in Powerscourt Townhouse, the Lisburn Boutique in Northern Ireland, or online at philiptreacy.co.uk. By far one of the best known of all Irish designers!
Simone Rocha is another internationally recognised fashion designer who was initially trained in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin before pursuing further studies at Central Saint Martins in London.
She is relatively new in the scene, having shown her graduate collection only 8 years ago. However, she has already established quite an empire, and has won many accolades including 2016 Womenswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards.
Perhaps her sartorial prowess comes as no surprise as she is the daughter of another well-establish fashion designer, John Rocha. However, Simone Rocha’s talents are her own, and so is her design aesthetic. Her designs are often deceptively minimalistic, but upon closer inspection are full of intricate details and innovative techniques. She currently does not have a store in Ireland, but you can get your very own Simone Rocha piece at havanaboutique.com
Looking for more Irish designers and design products? A weekend shopping in Kilkenny might be in order!
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