Irish Designers Part Two

Irish Designers Part Two

We previously looked at some of the designers that first brought the fashion world's attention to Ireland, particularly during the 1950s couture heyday. Below are some of the designers that basked in the glow of that legacy in the decades thereafter. 

Ib Jorgensen

Ib was born in Denmark before moving to Ireland in his youth. He studied dressmaking at the Grafton Academy in Dublin. Upon graduation, he became a cutter and tailor at Nicolas O’Dwyer, a leading fashion house of the day.

He was just 22 years old when he set up his own salon in the late 50s.

Features of his work include fine tailoring, glamour and perfect finishing.

He is a founding member of the Irish Haute Couture Group, established in 1962 with fellow designers Neillí Mulcahy, Sybil Connolly and Clodagh Phibbs. There was healthy competition between all of them.

He designed a gown for Harriet Donnelly, sister of acting legend Richard Harris, for the London premiere of Camelot in 1967.

His high end  designs were stocked in the international room of Harrods andLiiberty’s in London throughout the 70s. He eventually opened his own London salon opened in 1979.

He designed the Aer Lingus air hostess uniforms in 1975 and again in 1986, as well as the first uniform for the Irish army womens service corps in 1980.

He became first chair of the Irish designers association, established in 1982.

His wife Patricia Murray was a textile designer and collaborated with him on the beading, embroidery and applique of his designs.

His clients included the Countess of Rosse and Lady Helestine.

He left fashion in 1992 for the art world, establishing the Jorgensen Gallery in Dublin.

Jimmy Hourihan 

jimmy Hourihan dress 1969

Jimmy Hourihan was born in Cork in 1947. He started his company in Dublin in the 1960s, specializing in wool capes, coats, shawls and wraps. His designs became known for their timeless style and their superior quality craftsmanship. The company also did dresses (above) and skirt suits (below) in the 60s.

They use cashmere and Donegal tweed amongst other wool blends. 

The famous Ború label cape from the 1970’s was exhibited in the National Museum of Ireland’s ‘Country Life’ collection and graces the cover of the book National Treasures. We sold a Ború cape ourselves on Etsy about 10 years ago! They are hot property online and the label design is epic! 


The company is still in business today and is a leading supplier of luxury capes worldwide. 

Pat Crowley

Patricia (Vernon) Crowley was an Irish fashion designer born in 1933. Encouraged by her mother, she studied fashion design at the Grafton Academy in Dublin. After graduation, she became an air hostess and was onboard the first ever transatlantic flight out of Ireland. 
She married Conor Crowley in 1957 and had to quit her job as it was widespread practise that women’s employment contracts were terminated upon marriage. She went on the pill, which was illegal at the time, in a bid to delay starting a family so she could still achieve her goals.
She eventually gained employment again by working for haute couturier Irene Gilbert in 1960, where she learned a lot about the fashion business during the 8 years she was there. 
Pat launched her own knitwear business in 1968 in Dublin. In her store, she sold Valentino and Ungaro alongside her own designs. Demand for her designs grew and she was soon employing 600 knitters. She put an innovative spin on traditional woollen jumpers and was known for her fresh and youthful approach to lace and crochet.
By the eighties, she was bringing her designs to wealthy American clients. She travelled regularly to New York, Dallas and Palm Beach to sell her collections. She attracted the attention of famous families such as the Vanderbilts and the Kennedys, as well as many politicians wives.
Crowley received the Satzenbrau Designer of the Year award in 1990, by which time she was synonymous with Irish fashion.

At home in the 1990s she became known for simple, practical daywear using Irish tweed from McNutts in Donegal and small handweavers such as Lisbeth Mulcahy in Dingle, as well as ultra feminine evening wear and wedding dresses.
She gained media attention and appeared on TV shows such as Head to Toe in 1992, which was the prime Irish fashion TV show. 
One of Crowley's most well known customers was fashion icon Miranda Guinness, (Countess of Iveagh) known to be one of Ireland's best dressed. When asked about being dressed by Crowley she said she felt "frightfully happy" dressed in her designs. Iveagh also talked about how Crowley had a way of selling her designs by charming the husbands at spending more money than they anticipated on their wives.

She was sadly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1999 and her health rapidly declined. Her shop closed in 2000 and she passed away in 2013. 

Paul Costelloe

Paul Costelloe is one of the most established names in Irish fashion. He studied fashion in Paris in the 1960s before working for Jacques Esterel and then Anne Fogarty in New York. He moved back to Ireland and established his own label in 1979.

In 1983, he was appointed personal designer to Diana, princess of Wales.

Renowned for his use of natural fibers and fabrics, the best-quality wools and silks, and a particular bias toward traditional Irish linen, Costelloe clothes are one of the most subtle, understated, yet beautifully designed and manufactured collections available today.

Two looks from his latest collection above. 

Lainey Keogh

Lainey is an Irish knitwear designer who gave up her career in microbiology to pursue fashion.

Literary agent Marianne Gunn O'Connor is credited with discovering her. Gunn owned the avant-garde fashion boutique Otokio in Dublin and is said to have discovered Lainey’s talents when she spotted her knitting in Bewley’s Coffee house. Later on, when Otokio closed in 1991, Marianne became the PR manager for Lainey’s company.

Lainey’s first shop opened in Dublin in 1984. She gradually built up her reputation for colourful, spidery knitwear in unusual designs.

In 1989, Christian Lacroix awarded her the ‘Prix de Coeur’ in Monte Carlo. Within two years, she had gained a number of new high profile clients and was well on her way to international success.

She was invited to Elizabeth Taylor’s house where the actress fell in love with her knitwear!

Marianne Faithful, Sophie Dahl, Helena Christensen and Naomi Campbell were among the models at her first London show in 1997. The soundtrack was provided by U2 with John Hurt reciting Seamus Heaney poetry! UK Vogue declared that it was the jewel in the crown of that particular fashion week.

Isabella Blow chose a Lainey knitted dress and coat ensemble as ‘Dress of The Year’ 1997, alongside designs by Hussein Chalayan and Julien MacDonald.

The Irish Times wrote that “If there is one quality running through all Lainey Keogh's work, it is a distinctive combination of sense and sensuality’.

New York’s Saks Fifth Avenue devoted its windows to her designs that Autumn.

In Fall 1998, John Galliano used Lainey’s textiles in his Christian Dior Haute Couture collection.

Her own Fall ’98 collection was inspired by Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.

Since the millennium, Lainey has focused on ethically sourced, natural fibres and dyes. She also decided to make an effort to preserve traditional Irish weaving and knitting techniques by insisting that her clothes be handmade by local individuals.

She is an active supporter of charities and international women's rights, donating 20% of her profits to charitable organizations. 

The Irish postal service issued stamps with her image in 2010.

She is currently based out of County Wicklow, Ireland, where she meets with clients in her 19th Century home. She shows in Paris twice a year.

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