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Dubliner Kiely bags an OBE for services to the world of fashion

DUBLINER Orla Kiely, whose distinctive handbags sell worldwide, has collected her OBE for her influence on the fashion industry.

Kiely, who moved from hats to bags at the advice of her father, turned a simple leaf design into a worldwide sensation.

Now, 14 years after starting the company, co-owned with husband Dermott Rowan, it is worth £44m (€49m) and the range includes clothing, accessories and home furnishing.

The quietly spoken mother of two from Shankill, Co Dublin, received her OBE at the Irish Embassy in London yesterday.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be recognised in this way; it's very unexpected," she said.

Her OBE was presented by British Business Secretary Vince Cable as non-British citizens are not entitled to receive their honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace

They are presented with their awards by the relevant Secretary of State instead.


Said Mr Cable: "I'm delighted to present Orla with this richly deserved honour in recognition of the outstanding contribution she has made to both the British economy and culture."

Kiely began her career studying at Dublin's National College of Art and obtained her Masters degree from the Royal College of Art in London.

In 1997 The Orla Kiely Partnership was formed with her husband Dermott Rowan. The business, Kiely Rowan Plc, has won four Fashion Export Awards.

Her London flagship store and showroom opened in September 2005 in Covent Garden and she opened a second store on the Kings Road in 2010.

The Orla Kiely worldwide flagship store will open in New York in the city's trendy SoHo in September.

"It seemed like the natural progression for us to open a store in the US," she said.

The 2,300 square-foot space will carry the label's ready-to-wear collection and accessories, as well as homeware, stationary and beauty products.

"The new store will be a home for the Orla Kiely brand, communicating its whole message to a new international audience," explained the brand's founder Dermott Rowan.

"It will still feel like New York. We'll just be adding Orla's world to it."