Sunday 20 October 2019

'Prince Harry has his hands full with Meghan Markle... and Kate Middleton lacks Diana's style' - Paul Costelloe

Meghan and Harry, and Paul Costelloe with models at his SS20 fashion show, right
Meghan and Harry, and Paul Costelloe with models at his SS20 fashion show, right
Colourful character: Paul Costelloe backstage with some of the models who showcased his designs at London Fashion Week. Photo: Shutterstock
Princess Diana in Paul Costelloe
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

It's a few days after Paul Costelloe's London Fashion Week show and the veteran designer is basking in the glow that comes when the cool kids are still wearing your clothes.

A quarter of a century after he dressed Princess Diana, Costelloe's newest celebrity clientele are reality TV royalty.

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Love Island alumnus Alexandra Cane led the glamour in a daring leather suit as she joined the likes of Rosie Williams, Yewande Biala and Belle Hassan (who starred in this year's series), and singer Tallia Storm in Costelloe's front row. 

Not that the veteran designer was overly glued to the reality series of the year. "I watched Love Island very seldom, just sort of flicked through it, thinking 'what on earth are these guys talking about'," he says. "You can see the Love Island look any day of the week here in Parsons Green in London."

Does he think the Mauras of this world have real style? "Well, as my father once said, you'd need to take all the make-up off them, and roll them in the sand, and then have a good look at them. Honestly, I think the models I have in my show were more beautiful."

Because of his connection with Princess Diana, Costelloe is regarded as something of an oracle for royal fashion. He says Kate Middleton is not as stylish as Diana, "but she doesn't need to be because she's not the future queen. She knows her position and so from that point of view she doesn't need to be as rich or dramatic in terms of the statements she's making in the fashion world".

Colourful character: Paul Costelloe backstage with some of the models who showcased his designs at London Fashion Week. Photo: Shutterstock
Colourful character: Paul Costelloe backstage with some of the models who showcased his designs at London Fashion Week. Photo: Shutterstock

He says he admires Meghan Markle's sense of fashion. "Her style is quite black and white, literally from the point of view of the colours she wears," he says.

"She dresses quite comfortable. I like her crisp cotton shirts, and I like that she's involved in things like helping unemployed people to get their dress code right, so she's doing good work...

"Harry seems like a good guy but he's got his hands full with her. My father married an American, so I know what it's like."

Costelloe has had a life-long fascination with all things American. As a teenager, he went to the American embassy in Ballsbridge to enquire how to become a cowboy.

"Well, I called it a cattle rancher. They told me that I'd have to go and do a degree in agriculture, but I didn't fancy that, so I became a clothing designer instead."

Years later, he moved to America and ended up in the Empire State Building, designing lingerie, before returning to Ireland to establish his own label, Paul Costelloe Collection. When Diana began wearing his designs in the mid-1990s, his career went stratospheric.

Princess Diana in Paul Costelloe
Princess Diana in Paul Costelloe

He also became known as something of a controversialist. He winces when I quote his famous comment on Irish women only being a couple of generations out of the bog.

"I think, like Oscar Wilde, that quote might end up on my gravestone," he laughs. "Listen, we are so international now, Irish women are Europeans. They hold their own with the best in the world."

Sunday Independent

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