Tuesday 20 February 2018

Fashion says farewell to its 'most stylish woman'

Pat Crowley at her studio. Photo: Tony Gavin
Pat Crowley at her studio. Photo: Tony Gavin
Laura Butler

Laura Butler

IRELAND'S original couture designer Pat Crowley has passed away peacefully following a long illness.

Ms Crowley, who had Alzheimer's, died peacefully yesterday at the age of 80 in the care of Highfield Healthcare.

Once described as the most stylish woman in the country, she was famous for her exclusive fabrics and intricate needlework.

In an era when married Irish women were expected to retire from the workplace and look after their husbands, Ms Crowley bucked the trend. As a young woman, on leaving school she studied fashion design with the Grafton Academy in Dublin.

This was because, as she herself said, "My mother said that a girl should always know how to make her own clothes."

After graduation she enjoyed a job as an air hostess with Aer Lingus, to avail of the opportunity to travel the world. She also travelled on the airline's first transatlantic flight.

She later took a job with Irene Gilbert, a leading couturier of her day, where she learned about about sales and marketing.

In 1968, she launched her own range of knitted and crocheted fashions that turned the traditional woolly jumper into something altogether avant-garde.

In the early '70s, she employed 600 knitters, dotted around the country, who worked hard to maintain her exacting standards of workmanship.

She then went on to produce season after season of wearable and elegant attire, unveiling collections of daywear as well as exotic evening wear.

Ms Crowley, whose maiden name was Vernon, spent most of her married life based in Dunboyne, where she and her husband Conor raised their three children, Vernon, Lisa and Fiona, and kept a number of horses. She met her husband, who died suddenly in 1999, at a rugby match in Lansdowne Road.

Ms Crowley dressed customers from all over the world throughout her illustrious career and her longtime friend and colleague Ib Jorgensen told the Irish Independent she will forever be remembered for her innate talent and creative vision.

"She was one of the leading designers of our time," Jorgensen said. "She was extremely well-known in the US and had a lot of export there. The thing about her was that she was exceptionally good at what she did, but also had a vivacious personality to match; she was a very well-liked woman.

"She was a great friend of mine and I am privileged I was designing at the same time as her."

Ms Crowley lived out her later years in Sandymount, Dublin 4.

A funeral Mass for Ms Crowley will be held on Thursday at 10am in the Star of the Sea Church in Sandymount, followed by burial in Rooske Cemetery, Dunboyne, Co Meath.

The family has asked that donations, if desired, go to the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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