Crowning success as Lady Gaga wears Margaret's hat
Milliner Margaret O'Connor may be on the Lady Gaga style team's speed-dial, but she still finds it difficult to get her hats stocked in Irish shops.
"I don't make any money in Ireland," the London-based designer told the Sunday Independent.
"Irish people do not have the money to spend on hats at the moment and it's very difficult for Irish designers."
Margaret, who completed internships with both Noel Stewart and the legendary Irish hat designer Philip Treacy, admitted to feeling "ill with excitement" after discovering that style icon Lady Gaga had personally chosen to wear one of her headpieces to the Isabella Blow Exhibition in London earlier this month.
"I was so excited but, to be honest, I was a bit on edge for about two days afterwards," Margaret, 27, from Boston, Co Clare, laughed. "It is an amazing opportunity for me as I'm trying to launch myself as a label. It's a huge endorsement."
Margaret studied fine art at the Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology, before moving to the UK to hone her millinery skills, where her internship with Philip Treacy coincided with the royal wedding. She is currently working on two collections and hopes to have her creations on the catwalks of London Fashion Week next September.
She also hopes to return home one day, but is keenly aware of how much work she must do first in order to carve out a career in fashion.
"I had to leave to get people to notice, the only reason people are noticing now is because Lady Gaga wore my hat. A couple of years ago I did wedding hats and stuff and went into Ennis, but none of the shops would sell them.
"A lot of people are doing very well for themselves in Ireland, though. So I thought that if I learnt more about the industry I could come back and that's what I'm working for," Margaret said. "I'd love people to stock my hats in shops in Ireland. There is a lot of amazing talent in Ireland."
Despite her A-list fans, Margaret has no intention of chasing down other celebrities and begging them to wear her hats. "I'm going to make amazing hats and then they'll want to come to me," she smiled.
"My goal is to just work very hard and it will happen. In five years' time, I want my hats on all the big catwalks and for people to look at my hats and know that's a Margaret O'Connor hat."