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Paul Costelloe and Colin Horgan: Two generations of Irish designers leave mark on London Fashion Week

Veteran Costelloe hits catwalk purple patch as pioneer Horgan celebrates 31st birthday in style at scaled-back event


A model wearing Colin Horgan’s Tundra trousers

A model wearing Colin Horgan’s Tundra trousers

Paul Costelloe at London Fashion Week

Paul Costelloe at London Fashion Week

Designer Colin Horgan, who will show on Tuesday, with model Ailis O’Donnell wearing the Landslide coat from his SS22 collection. Photo: Cillian Garvey

Designer Colin Horgan, who will show on Tuesday, with model Ailis O’Donnell wearing the Landslide coat from his SS22 collection. Photo: Cillian Garvey

Lilac comes into favour in Paul Costelloe’s SS23 collection. Photo: Debbie Bragg

Lilac comes into favour in Paul Costelloe’s SS23 collection. Photo: Debbie Bragg


A model wearing Colin Horgan’s Tundra trousers

Two generations of Irish designers show at London Fashion Week over the coming days. After three seasons of disruptions and virtual shows without audiences, they are back on the catwalk with colour, innovation and different ways of storytelling.

Paul Costelloe believes “fortune favours the brave”, and almost four decades after he first showed at London Fashion Week in 1984, the veteran designer yesterday rolled out a runway collection that showcased his painterly skills and supreme gift for tailoring.

The Dubliner is a household name with a fanbase that has included members of the British royal family since he dressed Princess Diana in Irish linen in the 1980s.

He dressed the queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 and has dressed members of the bride’s family.

In a tribute to the late queen, who Costelloe met in Dublin during her 2011 visit, the designer’s opera singer daughter, Jessica, and two of his six sons, Robert and William, yesterday performed Jerusalem at the opening of the 11am show.

In an otherwise colourful show, in which the models all wore cropped blonde wigs over bright clothing and accessories, Costelloe decided to change the format two days after the British monarch died, and he opened with a model wearing a long black dress and a black wig with music provided by three of his seven adult children.

The British Fashion Council (BFC) decided to go ahead with London Fashion Week SS23 season as planned, albeit significantly scaled back, with no shows on Monday.

There was noticeably subdued social media around shows on the opening day yesterday.

In a statement, the BFC said: “London Fashion Week is a business-to-business event and an important moment for designers to show their collections at a specific moment in the fashion calendar. We recognise the work that goes into this moment.”

Shows that were due to take place next Monday, the day of the queen’s funeral, have been rescheduled, and the BFC asked “that designers respect the mood of the nation and period of national mourning by considering the timing of their image release”.

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Costelloe’s show yesterday saw silhouettes in a riot of colours, with paintbox primary colours with plenty of strong yellows from a canary yellow poly blend fabric that looked like a super luxe satin to pale lemon accessories, all studded with oranges and reds at the start and closing with a watercolour dreamworld.

Costelloe even found time to eulogise lilac, a colour he used to dread, but like others in the rag trade he admits,he is a new, if late, fan and used it effectively with jewel tone purples.

He introduced a bionic woman with strength, added in a touch of a Bridgerton-inspired silhouette with a lampskin-style skirt to floral dress closing the show.

There was drama with strong shoulders and a particular shoulder pad he calls the “bowling pin” for the exaggerated line it delivers.

So where does bravery come into play, I asked the 76-year-old designer?

“I like to constantly challenge myself and do new things,” he said.

“I never look back, it’s always about moving forward, keeping the brand young, and it is a privilege.

“Putting on a show like this is scarey – it is not cheap, but I am already thinking about my autumn/winter ’23 collectton and it’s going to be based on Molly Bloom.”

Kerry-born Colin Horgan, a new gen star tipped for success, was originally scheduled to show today on his 31st birthday, but in a recalibrated schedule he will wait until Tuesday morning to debut his Metaverse experience for his British Fashion Council Discovery LAB SS23 presentation.

It’s an interesting hybrid to his young audience, and in parallel to his “on schedule” London Fashion Week digital platform, Horgan will share his Imposed Faction video, footage shot in an industrial space behind a furniture store in Ardfert, a few metres from his studio.

The multi-disciplinary space has been designed and curated for a pioneering fashion week experience, enabling invited global press and buyers to enter his London Fashion Week Metaverse and interact with all facets of the SS23 collection and brand, exploring sequen- tial catwalk looks, up-close technical craftsmanship detail, show hair and make-up, backstage access and post-show interviews and catwalk playlists.

Buyers can navigate each look within the collection and access Horgan’s virtual showroom powered by Irish company SKMMP on Kommon Kollective.

Next Tuesday will be his fifth time showing at the bi-annual London Fashion Week.

He said: “It was a really exciting time to be able to create an extension of my creative process that is accessible to our B2B and global fashion week guests.”

The designer, who moved back to Ardfert during the pandemic, said his Metaverse experience “allows the guest to step through a parallel realm that entirely celebrates all the elements in my collection, both visually and sonically”.

“Equally, the space enables the presentation to be dissected into collection visuals that are easy to access and interact with your avatar,” he added. “I consider my work a bit more technical, and I felt like it was now or never before it would become a bit of trend.

“Looking through the Metaverse space, it really is like an extension of my brain that you are getting to step into.”

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