Focus on Irish Fashion: Aideen Bodkin
Aideen Bodkin's colourful tailored pieces have become staples for women as close as Ireland and as far away as the USA and Kuwait.
Tailoring design for an individual look rather than simply following trends, Aideen has built up a cult following since she established her label in 1999. We caught up with the Dublin designer to talk vintage, vogue and some of her 80s fashion disasters.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a designer?
I was very young I think, about 12-years-old when I realised what I wanted to do. I grew up with a grandmother and mother who were both very gifted with their hands. They sewed, knitted, crocheted, and I would spend many Sunday afternoons watching old movies with my grandmother which also led to a love of vintage fashion.
What was the first thing you designed?
I went to the Grafton Academy when I was 15 for a summer and I remember designing a skirt with a pleated waistband. I had my first sewing machine at 14 and I began making clothes at that age.
As a designer what’s inspiring you now?
I think I will always be influenced by glamorous women, by magazines and by books from the last century. I have also kindly been given vintage Vogue patterns and I find these a great source of inspiration.
How would you describe your Spring and Summer 2011 collection?
I would describe the SS2011 collection as colourful, feminine and wearable. The range is designed as separates and this flexibility allows the wearer to tailor a unique look to her needs.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
I launched my label 12 years ago and it coincided with the boom in the Irish economy. Over the past few years I have seen many customers struggling to keep their boutiques going. Like most designers, I have had to change to suit the times and I am very lucky to have many loyal customers who do their best to support Irish design.
If you could choose a celebrity endorsement, who would it be and why?
I design clothes that are worn by ordinary women and this is a great endorsement for my label. I have been privileged to design Mary McAleese’s outfit for her last inauguration which helped give my label a great boost. My fantasy endorsement would have to be Audrey Hepburn.
She embodies a timeless style.
Who has really impressed you by this season?
I really liked the Erdem collection and Christopher Kane’s dresses this season.
What is the one item every woman should have in her closet?
A great, well-fitting coat that can be thrown on casually over jeans or dressed up for a special occasion.
What was your most tragic fashion moment?
The late 80s, I'm sad to report that it was more of a tragic five years than a tragic fashion moment!
Where do you like to shop?
I like to shop in Paris best, but I would say Barcelona is a very close second - especially for the variety it offers.
Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon?
Walking my dog Otto in the Phoenix Park or on the beach.
Share one insider secret?
Don’t be too much of a slave to trends and always wear garments that you feel comfortable in.
Who do you most admire, and why?
My mother and other women of her generation. They worked hard without all the modern amenities we have. They raised families and worked through hard economic situations and are so influential in the paths we choose for our own lives. I also believe that we have had great role models in the last two Irish Presidents who will be very hard acts to follow.
How would you like your designs to be remembered?
I want people to hold on to the garments and pass some of the special ones on to the next generation. I love seeing women wearing garments that were made in past seasons because I know they love wearing these pieces.