Kerry Gold: Irish designer Don O’Neill dresses Oprah for her Oscar award
WHAT a week for Irish designer Don O’Neill. The Ballyheigue native had his debut runway show at New York fashion week and then got the call to say Oprah wanted one of his designs to wear for the Oscars.
The chat show queen wore a Theia dress (O’Neill’s label) for a shoot on the cover of her O magazine last September, and loved it so much she asked to wear a similar design again to the Oscars on Sunday night, where she received an honorary statuette.
"To dress Oprah is a big deal, to be on the cover of her magazine is a huge, huge deal, but to be on the September issue is beyond!" the designer said at the time. Last night O'Neill was allowed to break his silence on the big name he was dressing for the event and took to Twitter to say: “It was a huge honor to have Oprah choose THEIA. Woohooo !”
The Theia "crunchy sequin dress" is made of a flattering stretch fabric and more than a million sequins. The sequins are a selection of five sizes and six colours that combine to create a "glittering gold" effect.
According to one website Oprah received plenty of comparisons to an Oscar statuette when she wore the gold Theia gown at the Academy Awards.
Eimear O’Kane the producer of Pentecost, the Irish short film that was nominated also wore a Theia empire line dress, designed to accommodate her six month pregnancy bump.
“It wasn’t an easy task to find a suitable dress in my condition but Don O’Neill and his team were very patient with me and gave me a big selection of dresses to choose from,” O’Kane said.
O’Neill’s back story is a familiar one: “I grew up in Ireland in the 80s and the economy was not doing really well and I and all of my classmates and all of my colleagues left; none of us stayed in Ireland. All of us had to go abroad to seek employment opportunities.”
The 45-year-old designer went to Paris where he worked for a while at McDonalds before breaking into fashion working for Christian Lacroix, saw his first runway show last week become the toast of the fashion press.
“Don O’Neill’s first runway presentation was precisely on point, with beautiful and dramatic red-carpet-worthy gowns and cocktail dresses,” according to influential women’sweardaily.com.
Theia designs have been worn previously by celebrities including Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, but O’Neill has confessed that he has set his sights on the White House and dressing first lady Michelle Obama: “She’s another real woman and a great role model. Every designer dreams of dressing movie stars but at the moment Obama so powerful, especially in fashion terms."