Model: Ewa Warzycha – Compton Model Agency
Hair & Make up: Brown Sugar
Location: La Catedral Studios – Dublin
It’s been my experience that most young designers are somewhat premature in launching themselves onto the marketplace. But not Claire O’Connor.
She set high standards for herself, working for several years with highly respected designers to learn her craft. Consequently, she is more than ready to take her place in the ranks of exclusive designers, as the Claire O’Connor collection joins Philip Treacy, Preen and Jasmine di Milo in The Design Centre.
Claire is what Pauric Sweeney would call a demi-couturier. That means her garments are not entirely hand-sewn, but most are hand-done one-offs, with a labour-intensive detail. Claire is an originator, creating unique clothing. Her style stamp is a cross between Jean Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix, featuring sophisticated tailoring, body-con fit, sex appeal, urban savvy, eclecticism and visual interest.
“My passions are hip-hop music and high-end fashion, so in my work I am diffusing the two,” Claire, who has two labels, explains. “My style is classic, with a bit of an edge. I do get a lot of inspiration from the Paris couturiers. I love exceptional tailoring and finish. But I also love challenging the ‘normal’.”
Claire’s playful attitude masks her superior competence and cutting ability. Her creations range from funky streetwear to sophisticated occasionwear, the latter featuring sumptuous cocktail dresses and evening coats with drop-dead fit and hand-embellished work. She is obsessive about fit and finish.
“After graduating from the Grafton Academy, I worked for Marc O’Neill. He had an unusual eye for design and was obsessive about cut — I learnt a huge amount,” she says. “I then worked for Jen Kelly, haute couturier. There I learned the importance of attention to detail and finish. But,” she adds, “I can never resist playing. It has to have a twist to keep it interesting.”
Claire set up her own label five years ago and she got a lot of bridal and occasionwear commissions. But when she started doing a ready-to-wear range of jersey pieces for Designer Knitwear Direct in Dalkey, she won a new fanbase. Her willingness to work with customers’ needs, creating individual patterns for women up to size 22, has won her devoted loyalty. One fan describes Claire as “a little miracle worker”.
Her collection for The Design Centre comprises 12 dress styles, which can be bought ready-to-wear or ordered to fit. There are also some stunning jackets and coats with unique detailing. And this is just the beginning. Expect great things.