Monday 18 December 2017

Claire O'Connor: The award winning designer on her new collection

Photo: Angela Halpin
Photo: Angela Halpin

Sinead Van Kampen

Award-winning Irish designer Claire O'Connor makes pieces which are edgy, precise and above all beautiful. She branched out on her own in 2005, having worked with the likes of Marc O'Neill and Pauric Sweeney, with a range of couture-inspired pieces and one-off creations available at Dublin's Design Centre.

We caught up with her to find out her thoughts on school discos, Queen Rania and her own take on the fashion she creates...

When did you realize that you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I was nine years old, it was a Friday afternoon. Having got a half day from school, I came home to chocolate and a copy of Hello magazine my auntie had left in the house. I saw something by John Galliano which blew me away and I decided there and then that I wanted to be like him when I'm big. It's my destiny.

What was the first thing you designed?

My class was going to Wesley disco for the first time, and my parents refused point blank to let me go. Before I almost drowned in a pool of my own tears, my mum asked me if I'd like her to show me how to sew.

While my friends danced the night away we made a pair of trousers, which I still have to this day. Some of my classmates wore them.

What's inspiring you now?

The people around me, my family, my friends. In the industry there are so many creative people, who are charging forward in the face of uncertainty and keep going to find the way to make a place for themselves and their clothes. They strive to put Ireland on the map.

How would you describe your Spring 2011 collection?

The signature look to this season is very contemporary with some avant-garde pieces. Lots of soft metallics, soft fabrics and bright colourful digital prints.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

As a designer working in Ireland, I feel the government lends little support to aid new and up-and-coming businesses. The small, indigenous craftspeople, who want to grow enterprise and need support. This is something that our new government needs to work on to help us and our economy on the road to recovery.

If you could choose a celebrity endorsement, who would it be and why?

Queen Rania of Jordan is not just a style icon and a great beauty but has also taken on an interactive role with leaders like Nelson Mandela on the Global Leadership Initiative which helps improve the welfare of children. She is an ambassador for many charities and a great ambassador for women around the world.

Whose collection have you really been impressed by this season?

Armani Privé Spring 2011 Couture Collection has been a much watched collection this season. It has taken a bold new direction and has been inspirational with its futuristic shapes. The textures of the fabrics have strong asymmetrical forms and the bold metallics and bright colours are for the strong, beautiful woman.

What is the one item every person should have in their closet?

The coat. A beautiful coat is a must have. The building block of any good wardrobe. Even if you look awful underneath it will deliver you looking sharp and well dressed. Coats are a weakness of mine!

What was your most tragic fashion moment?

I've had a few. Even the best of us get it wrong.

Where do you like to shop?

New York, which has the most eclectic and wonderful little shops, with such gorgeous little things.

Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon?

And on the seventh day he rested, and all was good. I think that is sound advice.

Share one insider secret?

Be happy with who you are.

Who do you most admire, and why?

My mother. She has a great understanding of the world. Things that are important, things that are not. She has great perspective, is always there without judgment, and just pure love. She does not allow outside influences to determine how she feels and I think that is a most beautiful quality.

How would you like your clothes to be remembered?

Timeless. I would like to think that in 20 years time, people will open their wardrobes and say something of mine is their favourite thing.

See more of Claire's work at

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