The designer took inspiration from landmarks in James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ when developing a bespoke linen fabric with local motifs
Paul Costelloe may not approve of all the changes to his native city – such as the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street and the traffic “chaos” outside Trinity College – but it hasn’t stopped him paying a heartfelt homage to Dublin in his forthcoming fashion collection.
The veteran designer has been invited to open London Fashion Week’s AW23 season next week. It was an opportunity he grabbed with both hands.
Taking inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses, Costelloe and his family worked on the idea of a day in Dublin and developed a bespoke linen fabric with local motifs.
“This is a celebration of Dublin that was, Dublin that is, and the city I love so well,” said Costelloe, who left the Irish capital over 50 years ago to study fashion in Paris.
I enjoy flying in over Dublin and looking down at those ugly two towers, but I think they should definitely keep them up
“It is kind of like a reinterpretation of céad míle fáilte. It is saluting the past but reinvigorating the future.”
Costelloe and his wife, Anne, live in London. They have seven children.
“Anne loves history, she had lots of ideas on the main themes and our son William, who is an artist, created a narrative print festooned with iconic scenes from Ulysses,” he explained.
Returning to Dublin at least once a month to work on his collection of fashion and homewares for Dunnes Stores provides inspiration for Costelloe to sketch his hometown.
He did one of number 7 Eccles Street – home of Ulysses protaganist Leopold Bloom. The invitation for his February 17 show features his painting of the South Wall in Ringsend with the ESB Poolbeg chimneys.
“I enjoy flying in over Dublin and looking down at those ugly two towers, but I think they should definitely keep them up,” said Costelloe, who grew up in Booterstown and was educated at Blackrock College.
I think Dublin is magic but we should look after what’s left of Dublin’s history
“They are a landmark so no stupid carry-on. They have got rid of enough already.”
Reflecting on the changes to Dublin over the years, he says: “The pedestrianisation of Grafton Street was a tragedy. I think it was too narrow a street to do that and it killed its charm.
“Outside Trinity there is complete chaos. We’ve got trams, bicycles, people falling off bicycles and then you turn on to Dame Street – it’s just a joke.
“I believe in cycling – I cycle in London all the time – but it needs to be carefully planned and it’s building up to be anti-cyclist.
“I am a visitor to a certain extent but in a way, I am critical of things because of that.
“I think Dublin is magic but we should look after what’s left of Dublin’s history. We mustn’t just knock it down and say goodbye.”
The new linen fabric includes motifs of the Martello Tower and Mulligan’s pub in Poolbeg Street, where James Joyce was a customer. The public house is mentioned in Joyce’s 1914 collection of short stories, Dubliners.
“I had my stag party in Mulligan’s before I got married 40 years ago,” added Costelloe.
“We could have gone anywhere in the world but we celebrated locally and it was great.”