Wednesday 21 March 2018

Kerryman in New York - designer Don O'Neill

Don O'Neill has three decades of designing frocks under his (fashionable) belt

Theia embroidered tulle dress, €795
Theia embroidered tulle dress, €795
Three quarter sleeved dres black and gold jacquard, €725
Painted skirt dress, €895
Don's AW16 couture gown which featured in Mistletoe magazine

I sat down to watch the 10th anniversary programme of Keeping Up with the Kardashians but, I must confess, it was the over-the-top trailer for the show that I was really invested in. It featured catwalk favourite Kendall Jenner wearing a stunning Theia gown by international designer/couturier Don O'Neill.

The red gown was an old friend of ours here at the Independent because, last November, we featured the lavish crimson gown with damask skirt in our Mistletoe shoot at Malahide Castle.

I'm not surprised the Jenners' stylist called it in from Don: the Kerryman who dressed Oprah for the Oscars. Back in Dublin this weekend, as headline designer at the Irish Fashion Collective show, Don talked me through his latest AW17 collection arriving into Costume on Dublin's Castle Market (

The designer has had a special year too, what with being voted Favourite Designer of the Year at the Peter Mark VIP Style Awards and marking 30 years in business. The Ballyheigue-born designer honed his skills by working with internationally respected evening-wear designer Gina Fratini followed by Christian Lacroix and Carmen Marc Valvo. He spent three years as head of the Badgley Mischka diffusion label before becoming creative director of Theia, and I think we're benefitting from that couture world he populated, as his prices at Costume hover between €725 and €895.

Dressing women for special occasions is Don's bread and butter, but we don't all require floor- sweeping red-carpet looks like Oprah and Carrie Underwood. His latest Theia drop into Costume includes a bronze and gold cloqué dress (above right), which, for me, has just that right amount of colour and chic minimalism with boat neckline and three-quarter-length sleeves. The slimline silhouette of this €725 dress will have its fans, while those who like a dance or two will zero in on the full-skirted navy silk dress (€895, centre) with flower-painted hemline and rich crystal brooch embellishment.

Don loves designing for Irish clients and the €795 black and gold embroidered tulle dress (far right) has just a hint of a sleeve. To mark his pearl anniversary, Don has done some pearl Theia couture gowns, which can be requested as special orders from Costume. Selected bridal pieces can be purchased at Folkster Bridal in Kilkenny. You can check out Don's Instagram @dononeilldesign and Twitter @DonONeillDesign.


Congrats to the Tucker family, celebrating two decades running one of Dublin's most popular, family-owned fashion landmarks. The Castle Market store was founded by Billie Tucker and her daughter Tracy in 1997 and they were joined a few years later by Tracy's sister Anne. If you have a vintage blazer designed by the late Brian Tucker, lucky you.


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