| 10.4°C Dublin

'Miss Universe outfit was fun ... especially fitting it into the suitcase,' says designer Claire Garvey


Claire Garvey

Claire Garvey

Lisa Madden in the dress

Lisa Madden in the dress


Claire Garvey

She may have superstars among her many clients, but designer Claire Garvey has her feet firmly on the ground.

The Drumcondra-born fashionista won't be found tottering around on a pair of high heels and skinny jeans.

She doesn't even own a pair of trousers or jeans in her wardrobe. "I just feel awkward in them," she explained.

Claire has her own store in Cow's Lane in Temple Bar where customers can buy off the rail or have a bespoke item made for them.

The mum-of-one recently made headlines worldwide with her 'Celtic warrior' style costume that was worn by Lisa Madden at the Miss Universe contest in Miami.

"I had done the Miss Universe costume two years ago but I wanted to do something really dramatic," Claire told the Herald.

She said that herself and Mary Daly, who has been working with her for the last 15 to 20 years, "had great fun trying to get it into the suitcase".


When it comes to Irish women and their sense of style, she said she thinks it's nice if you see somebody who looks like they are comfortable in what they are wearing.

"I hate the idea that when a style comes in that everybody has to wear it.

"You should wear things that you feel comfortable in and that you look good in. Just because hot pants are in doesn't mean everybody has to go out and buy them," she said.

For those who come to her to get an item designed, normally she will do a drawing for them and show them samples and they will then come in for a first fitting.

"What's nice about getting something made to measure is you can change it as you go along. I do an awful lot of bridal work," said Claire, who designed singer Mary Coughlan's wedding dress.

Some people want to get more than one wear out of their dress, so after wearing white, they then come back and get it dyed and shortened.

When it comes to wedding dresses, Claire has done all kinds of different designs.

"Some people like a 'Lord of the Rings' romantic look, while others like dresses based around a Celtic design - it is all about what the bride wants.

"We customised a pair of Docs to with a brides dress the other day," said Claire.

She recently collaborated with the Gibson Hotel on a bridal wear project ahead of its wedding showcase on Saturday, February 28. The gown is inspired by the urban setting of the docklands, fused by influences from the music and art scene.

"I have a 90-year-old woman who has been coming to me for years and we have done her daughter's wedding dress and a Christening dress. We do 21sts and all sorts," the designer said.

Claire has designed for many performers and this month, American guitarist Nile Rodgers is wearing her creations on two magazine covers in the States.

It all started when he wore a jacket she designed for him on the X-Factor last year.

"He is a great supporter. He has tweeted loads of really nice things," she said. "He commissioned two more jackets so I can't wait to see where they are going to turn up now."

It appears that she was always destined for a career in fashion.

"I sent a drawing when I was seven to Mary Quant for her doll Daisy and I had all these little designs done. She sent me a signed autograph and said she would keep me in mind for the future," Claire laughed.

She said that she never stops working.

"My husband can't even bring me for a meal without me looking at the napkins or the lights and saying wow if you turn that upside down you could make a nice collar out of that or something like that. I just live and breathe it," said Claire.