Duck-down designs fly out of shop after 'Late, Late' appearance
ARTIST and designer Helen Steele is on the cusp of a truly organic fashion success story – a mix of practicality and artistic flights of fancy.
Helen uses duck down from her family's Silver Hill duck farm in Emyvale, Co Monaghan, to fill her puffa-style jackets and coats, which are proving an international success story for the artistic mother of three who, at the height of the boom, was selling her paintings for €24,600.
When the bottom dropped out of the art market, Helen spotted an opportunity for fashion ranges while travelling in China and the Middle East.
Singers Jessie J and Rita Ora have been photographed wearing the puffa-style jackets, which are made from smart-tech fabric in plain colours, or featuring happy buddhas from Helen's 'Silk Road' digital prints.
If Helen needed any Irish encouragement, it came after her appearance on Friday's 'Late, Late Show'. Over 100 orders poured in for the jackets – selling for up to €695 at Costume in Castle Market in Dublin.
The Steele family business processes over 80,000 ducks a week and while they have been making duck down and feather duvets for companies like Harrods and John Lewis, Helen is now using the down for her collections, which she is bringing to Paris and London Fashion Weeks and also to the Irish Creative Expo, which opens at the RDS on January 20.
"I've been inundated with calls and orders this weekend.
"The phones have been hopping at Costume and we are sold out. There is now a waiting list," said Helen, whose artwork features in the collections of Diane Von Furstenberg and Helena Christensen.