Monday 11 December 2017

My cultural life: Designer Don O'Neill

Creative director Don O'Neill
Creative director Don O'Neill
Catriona Balfe
Joseph Walsh design
Patrick O'Neill

Don O'Neill is creative director of THEIA, an evening-wear company based in New York City. He is from Ballyheigue in County Kerry, son of Donal and the late Mim O'Neill. He married the love of his life, Frenchman Pascal Guillermie in Ballyheigue last year. Pascal is a former contemporary modern dancer and now a successful florist. The couple will soon be celebrating 24 years together.

Design: Lumenoria II dining table

Art and design are fused together by Joseph Walsh, and his Lumenoria II dining table (below) is the most exquisite piece of art I have ever seen. The table, with its ebonised ash base, looking as though ribbons of black satin had been unfurled in a breeze and somehow frozen in time, on which rests the translucent amber resin table top, through which light passes creating hypnotic swirls of golden light on the floor - I could literally feel the energy of the universe flowing through it. It inspired my Fall 2015 collection. I am in awe of the humble, soft-spoken gentle Irishman who designed it.

TV: Outlander

Catriona Balfe

We have been binge watching and loving Outlander, starring the beautiful Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (above). Caitriona used to model for me years and years ago when I worked at Carmen Marc Valvo, I adored her look and her signature walk. Carmen used to tease that I only booked her because she was Irish, but I could see then her tremendous presence on the catwalk... and look at her now, a fabulously talented award-winning actress, who is totally captivating in her role as Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser.

Book: Angels In My Hair

I grew up Catholic, but as a closeted gay man dealing with all that guilt in my head, I rejected the Catholic Church. Mom died in 2012, our lovely Mim, whose deep quiet Catholic faith never failed either her nor my dad. Lorna Byrne's book Angels In My Hair arrived a few months later, after her agent Jean had heard me talking about Mom in a radio interview. At first I dismissed the book but when I read it something clicked. God gave us all, no matter our gender, colour, creed or sexual preference, a glorious guardian angel to mind us. I can proudly tell you that, Rory, my guardian angel, and I are best friends.

Composer: Hans Zimmer

Music plays a huge role in my creativity, music that propels creative images streaming across the silver screen of my imagination. Hans Zimmer is the composer of the scores that generate the most magical images. Recently my Spring 2017 bridal collection set in the very distant future, had the powerful piece Mountains from the Interstellar soundtrack give birth to the most future-forward brides I could ever have imagined for the finale.

Filmmaker: Patrick O'Neill

Patrick O'Neill

For years my favourite film was Star Wars. That was until November 2015 when I first saw The Uncountable Laughter of the Sea screened here in New York at The Museum of Modern Art. Shot in County Kerry, it's a visual poem to the timeless beauty and majesty of our beautiful mother earth. Truth be told, I set out to like this film, directed by my brother Patrick (above), but I loved it.

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