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Richard Quinn on designing Derry Girls star Nicola Coughlan’s Met Gala showstopper: ‘We wanted to give her some drama on the stairs’

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Actor Nicola Coughlan wearing a Richard Quinn design at this year’s Met Gala. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Actor Nicola Coughlan wearing a Richard Quinn design at this year’s Met Gala. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

A floral hat and coat from Richard Quinn’s AW22 collection. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty

A floral hat and coat from Richard Quinn’s AW22 collection. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty

Lila Moss in a bridal look at Richard Quinn's AW22 show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty

Lila Moss in a bridal look at Richard Quinn's AW22 show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty

Daisies from Richard Quinn's runway prints wraps around the BFC 'Creative' spot' pop-up boutique he designed. Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images

Daisies from Richard Quinn's runway prints wraps around the BFC 'Creative' spot' pop-up boutique he designed. Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images

The new pop-up boutique which Richard Quinn designed and curated at Bicester Village

The new pop-up boutique which Richard Quinn designed and curated at Bicester Village

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Actor Nicola Coughlan wearing a Richard Quinn design at this year’s Met Gala. Picture: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Designer Richard Quinn deserves a holiday after a string of back-to-back career highlights, and the 32-year-old cannot wait to spend it in Ireland. “I’m going to Donegal for a week. My parents have a house in Rathmullan, so it’s literally up in the hills of Donegal,” says Quinn.

It’s been a hectic few months for the London-Irish designer, starting with his critically acclaimed AW22 collection show in February, in which he showed striking hat and coat combos in his signature blown-out floral prints and introduced us to a compelling modern bride in a mini dress.

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Lila Moss in a bridal look at Richard Quinn's AW22 show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty

Lila Moss in a bridal look at Richard Quinn's AW22 show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty

Lila Moss in a bridal look at Richard Quinn's AW22 show during London Fashion Week. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty

May has been a phenomenal month for the designer by anyone’s career standards. Quinn was named winner of the British Fashion Council’s BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, which is worth £200,000 (€235,000).

The month of May also gave Quinn his latest Met Gala success when he dressed Derry Girls’ Nicola Coughlan. “I’d met her a few times before and I get on really well with her. I’m a fan of her work,” Quinn tells me.

“I’d just watched Bridgerton season one and two back-to-back and then they reached out, so it was kind of a no-brainer for us.” The pink fabric in Coughlan’s dress was Taroni luxury Duchess satin from Italy, embellished with delicate feathers and beading. Quinn says they wanted to acknowledge the Gilded era, but not in a literal Bridgerton gown, “so it was a nice balance between the two”.

His design approach was influenced by having attended the 2019 Met Gala with model Lily Aldridge, when Quinn saw the sheer scale of the venue for himself.

“We wanted to give Nicola some kind of drama on the stairs, something to frame her as well, so the cape was like an inverse of the dress, but all in black over the dress with its sweetheart neckline,” says Quinn, who dressed Amal Clooney in a foil bustier for the 2018 Met Gala.

Quinn was also invited to curate the BFC’s new ‘creative spot’ pop-up boutique at Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, which has 18 designers and is open until June 15.

People will be familiar with Quinn’s luxury ready-to-wear designs, which cost thousands of euro, and many of us dearly miss those very early days in his career when he did an affordable collab with Debenhams.

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A floral hat and coat from Richard Quinn’s AW22 collection. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty

A floral hat and coat from Richard Quinn’s AW22 collection. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty

A floral hat and coat from Richard Quinn’s AW22 collection. Picture: Gareth Cattermole/Getty

On the rails at the summer pop-up, you will find accessible pieces in his runway prints, such as floral jeans, jackets, puffers, dresses and luxury PJs — all stock that would formerly have sold on e-commerce sites and are now discounted to around a third of their original price (averaging £185 (€217) for a denim skirt to £445 (€522) for PJs).

Special pieces were made for the pop-up and start at £50 (€59) for a floral bucket hat, while uber cute deckchair covers are £70 (€82).

His choice of fellow designers in the venture include a mix of classic names and new faces, such as Christopher Kane, Eudon Choi, Mary Katrantzou, Patrick McDowell, Phoebe English, Roksanda and Sophia Webster, Mother of Pearl and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, all under one roof. There’s also Rejina Pyo, Tata-Naka and Ivana Nohel. 

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The new pop-up boutique which Richard Quinn designed and curated at Bicester Village

The new pop-up boutique which Richard Quinn designed and curated at Bicester Village

The new pop-up boutique which Richard Quinn designed and curated at Bicester Village

Chatting over lunch, he says that Kendall Jenner wearing his floral-over-latex mermaid gown to the 2019 Emmys was “a good case study of direct sales — the first classic ‘celebrity wears it, people buy it’”.

Winning the BFC’s lucrative award is a major feather in the cap for Quinn, whose parents come from counties Donegal and Meath.

“A huge part of our business we want to grow is private client sales and also online and direct to customer, so the award will link us up with experts in that field who will mentor us through those stages so we avoid the pitfalls.

“I’d like to think I am quite shrewd. I am quite a sceptic of people anyway, so I feel like we’ve made good choices. You’ve got to work really hard and have a point of view. I’ve always had a particular vision of how I see the company going from A to B. It’s basically like a game of chess and how you get there.”

Summer fashion reads

Former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Justine Picardie has seven books to her credit. Over the last 20 years, she has produced an impressive body of work that includes a biography (Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life), a book on shared secrets, a novel (Daphne), and an exploration of the life and afterlife of clothes.

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Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture by Justine Picardie

Her latest book, Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture, charts the life of Catherine Dior, sister and best friend of the French couturier, Christian Dior. Catherine was a thoroughly fascinating and resilient woman and I thoroughly recommend that you bring her on holidays with you.

When I met Picardie before an event at the new Dior shop in Brown Thomas, I enquired about recommendations for summer reading.

“Christian Dior’s own memoir, Christian Dior & Moi, is very interesting, and I think anyone interested in fashion should read in,” says Picardie.


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