Our Interview with Designer CLAIRE O CONNOR
One Irish designer who has recently been basking under the spotlight, is Claire O Connor. Not least has she been involved in many fashion related awards and events (including winning 2 Young Designer of the Year Awards) she has also been a finalist in the Kerry Fashion Awards, had Blathnaid ni Chofaigh don one of her creations on the All Ireland Talent Show and most recently had one of her dresses appear on a hugely global stage as the amazing Niamh Kavanagh wore a Claire O Connor dress while representing Ireland in this year’s Eurovision. Claire also dressed Niamh’s backing singers for the event.
Having graduated from the Grafton Academy in 2001, Claire spent a couple of years working with names such as Jen Kelly, Marc O Neill and Pauric Sweeney. In 2004. Clare O Connor decided to go out on her own. Although her label Lil’C is wonderfully edgy with clear hip hop influences, Claire also does made to measure bridal and evening wear which have proven extremely popular.
Claire describes her Lil’c label as “contemporary womenswear….heralding a unique concept of alternative luxury” The brand certainly stands out; screaming self expression and individuality. We were eager to catch up with the even funkier individual behind the brand.
Model Photography: Angela Halpin
Q: Claire, what was it that drives your amazing passion for fashion design?
A: I discovered the genius that is John Galliano when I was about nine years old and decided there and then that I wanted to be like him when I grew up.
Q: Your label Lil'c is a couture version of hip hop casual wear? Where does your inspiration for this come from?
A: It is a combination of my love of Parisian Haute Couture, New Uork and Hip Hop Music that was the inspiration behind the label, using fine jerseys, silks and lace to create the couture-like womenswear with a streetweat twist.
Q:Lil'c outfits would look amazing on a young pop star. Who would you most like to see wearing something from the Lil'c label?
A: Ideally it would be someone like Rihanna or Beyonce
Q: You also do bespoke bridal and occasion wear. How do you find it having to make the leap from funky, very individualistic pieces, to much more conservative evening wear?
A: I think my design signature can be quite similar for both labels but is adjusted depending on what I am designing, whether it be a wedding dress or something that my be worn clubbing on a Saturday night. I think a good designer should be able to design on different levels and not be restricted solely to daywear or bridalwear or sportswear etc.
Q: You recently were the chosen designer for the beautiful dress that Niamh Kavanagh wore at this years' Eurovision. After some hesitation over the original designers chosen, you were called upon to rise to the occasion. How did this all come about and how did it feel to see your design being worn in front of millions of television viewers?
A: Blaithnaid ni Chofaigh wore one of my dresses for the final of the All Ireland Talent Show and afterwards I was approached by the head of wardrobe in RTE to design a dress for Niamh and her two backing singers. I was delighted to have been asked.
Q: What was your brief or your thought process behind the dress that you designed for Niamh?
A: The dress was designed to compliment the song, and we wanted something that would look well on stage.
Q: Do you think they should have asked you to design a second dress for the second night?
A: The lighting and stage was set up to compliment the dress and was set up the same on both nights, hence the same dress was used.
Q: Would you do it again?
Q: In style terms, are you as edgy as your Lil'c label? How would you best describe your personal style?
A: I would say yes, but it all depends on your definition of edgy! I would say my personal style is quite classy but with a quirky twist.
Q: Who do you see as an inspirational figure in terms of your work?
A: Well it always has been and always will be John Galliano with the late Alexander McQueen running a close second. I also love designers such as Peter Piloto and Gareth Pugh that have emerged more recently.
Q: If you were to pick one Irish well known figure as your 'most stylish', who would it be?
A: Alison Doody. She is so elegant and oozes class. |
Q: What's next for Lil'c and Claire O Connor?
A: My A/W 2010 Claire O Connor Collection is due in the design centre this month. I intend to build on the success of my summer season which got a fantastic reaction from the public and also from the press. I am building on my high profiled clientele and am back to New York in September for various meetings as Lil’C Couture is very much inspired by the energy of cities such as New York, LA and Miami and I hope to bring the label Stateside. I got a great reaction to the collection on my recent trips to New York and got to work with Missy Elliots stylists.