Saturday 18 August 2018

Beautiful anarchy

Fiercely independent London-based Irish couturier Claire O’Connor has always uncompromisingly followed her beautiful, fashion-obsessed, unbound heart

Photography by Kristin Brynn Costello

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

Silk gown, €2,895, made to order, Claire O’Connor. Shoes, €210, Oscar de la Renta, The Outnet
Silk gown, €2,895, made to order, Claire O’Connor. Shoes, €210, Oscar de la Renta, The Outnet
Silk gown, €3,995, made to order, Claire O’Connor. Shoes, €70, Miu Miu, Retro Woman
Embroidered gown, €3,795, made to order, Claire O’Connor. Shoes, €70, Miu Miu, Retro Woman
Leather and silk-chiffon dress, €1,895, made to order, Claire O’Connor
Silk gown, €3,795, made to order, Claire O’Connor. Shoes, €210, Oscar de la Renta, The Outnet

Claire O'Connor has always been - in her own quiet, high-end, bespoke couture career - a fashion anarchist. It means her work is never typical, safe or expected. Sadly, but inevitably, someone of her independent and passionate creative heart had to go (just like Vivienne Westwood and Philip Treacy before her) where such sensibility makes sense - to London.

Now, discerning ladies from all over the world - and I am talking seriously influential movie stars, big-business women and female power-brokers from Arab nations - are flocking to her non-self-promoting, no-social-media door.

"My business is with women who do not want their dress all over Instagram. They don't want their label known. They want to be known for looking beautiful and unique," Claire says from her London workroom, the place where extreme couture complexity and extraordinary attention to detail manifests minute by minute.

"Most designers aren't making money doing clothes. They make money from perfumes and bags. Everyone and their mother is a designer," she says. "But I need to make a living, and I want to make beautiful, one-off pieces. This is the way I can do it. And this is what people want. There is nothing worse than spending £7,000-£8,000, and someone else turning up in the same dress. My customers don't want nonsense. They want someone who is good at what they do, so they can get in and out, the job gets done and everyone is happy."

Claire will be in Dublin to meet loyal Irish clients and to participate in the excellent Irish Fashion Exposure, the annual event organised by the Order of St Lazarus Ireland. This supports Irish designers while raising funds for humanitarian work - such as providing essential surgeries in Africa and India.

"What I am about is bespoke day and evening wear," Claire explains. "This collection was an unfolding from my red-carpet work. My clients are changing, and so the collections are changing with them. My bespoke pieces now are very definitely red carpet. I have always loved draping fabrics and embellishment. I have always loved working with leather. Some styles are short underneath and long on the outside. The short dress (see pages 32 and 33, centre) is a combination of leather and chiffon. It is all a combination of two styles, bringing them into one. Keeping it evening wear, but having an edge."

All clothes by Claire O’Connor bespoke couture autumn/winter 2017 collection tel: (00447462) 423-588, or email info@claireoconnor.com, or see claireoconnor.com

Retro Woman,

20 Pembridge Rd,

Notting Hill,

London W11 3HL,

UK, tel: (004420) 7565-5572, or see mgeshops.com

The Outnet, see theoutnet.com

Photography by Kristin Brynn Costello, see kbcphoto.com

Make-up by Marina Guidos, see marinaguidos.com

Model: Thom Ferguson, Major Model Management, New York, see majormodel.com Shot at Plumb Beach, Brooklyn, New York

Sunday Independent

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