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Irish Fashion Focus: Sinéad Doyle


Elizabeth Dress by Sinead Doyle. Model Grace@1st Option,  Photographer Cormac Byrne, Hair Isis Godfrey Glynn, Make-up Anne Aldea.

Elizabeth Dress by Sinead Doyle. Model Grace@1st Option, Photographer Cormac Byrne, Hair Isis Godfrey Glynn, Make-up Anne Aldea.

Elizabeth Dress by Sinead Doyle. Model Grace@1st Option, Photographer Cormac Byrne, Hair Isis Godfrey Glynn, Make-up Anne Aldea.

Fashion designer Sinead Doyle talks about her spring collection and why she admires Victoria Beckham.

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

Not until about third year in college really. I discovered menswear which was my first love. Until then, I wanted to be a costume designer. Bob Ringwood is my hero. I’ve never been trend obsessed, I'm much more interested in what clothes say about the wearer.

What was the first thing you designed?

The first thing I designed and followed through to make was my debs dress. It was so hideous, I won’t even describe it from embarrassment but considering I’d never learned how to use a sewing machine before I tried to make it, I think it could have been much worse…

What’s inspiring you now?

I’m working on A/W 2011 at the moment and my interest in costume design is showing through. I’ve been studying patterns from the nineteenth century and bringing elements of these into very strictly tailored pieces. Funnily enough, my 2009 AW collection was described as Victorian Power Dressing by Annmarie O’Connor on Stylenation and I think I’m taking that to the next level here.

How would you describe your Spring 2011 collection?

Different. I wanted to try something completely new and as I tend towards tailored separates and neutral or dark colours, new for me means bright dresses with lots of print. It was semi-inspired by the work of Paul Gauguin and a desire to make special one-off pieces.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

The business side of things presents constant challenges but, for me, the biggest challenge of having a fashion label is networking. It’s really essential in Ireland, particularly in such a small industry as fashion. I’m really a geek and most definitely not a socialite. I always think I should hire someone taller and less socially inept to go to events pretending to be me while I can stay in my studio happily sewing away!

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

From a business perspective it’s got to be Anna Wintour. Have you seen The September Issue? I’d be made! Apart from that, maybe Anna Dello Russo or Daphne Guinness, particularly for the upcoming AW collection.

I’m more impressed with people with individual style, particularly if it’s a little quirky.

Whose collection have you really been impressed by this season?

I’ve always been an admirer of Alexander McQueen and I think Sarah Burton has done an amazing job stepping up as head designer. The SS11 collection was stunning in terms of how the garments moved, the structure, the print placement and the show styling was wonderful. I also very much liked Mary Katrantzou’s last two collections. It’s great and rare to look at a collection and think ‘ooh, I haven’t seen that before’.

What’s one item every woman should have in her closet?

A black pencil skirt. You can pair it with a silk cami, a polo neck, fitted sweater, a shirt, a jacket, anything. My high-waisted version has been worn to dinner, clubbing, working, teaching, interviewing and even funerals. The gym is probably the only place I haven’t worn it at some stage. It’s deceptively versatile.

What was your most tragic fashion moment?

I decided I wanted to fit in with my friends when I was about 13. Cue the oversized grey Adidas sweater and shiny three-stripe tracksuit bottoms. I absolutely hate tracksuits worn outside of a sporting environment and always have, so my only excuse for this is peer pressure. Anything oversized when you’re as short as I am is not flattering. Never again.

Where do you like to shop?

I wear a lot of my own stuff and then buy the basics on the high street, Awear or River Island for jeans, Uniqlo for T-shirts and the odd dress or top in Oasis. If it’s a gift or something different I’m after, I’ll usually buy from one of the designers in the Loft Market.

Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon?

I sell from the Loft Market in the Powerscourt Townhouse and failing that I'll be in my studio working. I don’t really do time off.

Share one insider secret?

Unless you like the goth style never wear red lipstick in a black and white photo. Your lips will turn out pitch black!

Who do you most admire, and why?

I’m going to be very controversial and lose loads of cool points in choosing Victoria Beckham. She clearly works her backside off which I respect. It is debatable how much she designs but this could be said for a lot of designers. Her collections are flattering and attractive and she’s gone from being in a widely mocked girl band to being respected by the international fashion industry. And she’s managed the whole mother and wife thing at the same time… Oh, and modelled for Armani. I love that she wants to do something, and just goes and does it. And does it well.

How would you like your clothes to be remembered?

They’re not at the point yet where they deserved to be remembered but I think I’m getting there…