- 05 Mar 20
Claire O'Connor continues to attract a huge buzz for her wonderfully imaginative designs
Designer Claire O’Connor’s love of fashion emerged as many creatives’ passion do; with some external education and a personal tragedy (well, by teenage standards).
“When I was about nine I saw John Galliano in Hello magazine, and my life’s mission began!” says O’Connor. “And a few years later, one fateful Friday night, my class were going to Wesley disco for the first time, and come hell or high water, my parents weren’t letting me go. Before drowning in a pool of my own tears, my mum asked would I like her to show me how to sew. I stopped the pitiful sobbing and made my first pair of trousers – which, I add, were worn by my classmates to future Wesley discos, so all’s well that’s ends well!”
O’Connor started her design education in the Grafton Academy in Dublin, before studying the art of making handbags in Florence and doing some courses in Central St. Martins. “Life is a school, as they say, so I am constantly learning.”
O’Connor’s designs are truly showstopping, as she elevates classic silhouettes with striking, tactile fabrics, or adds incredible, dramatic embellishment to traditional pieces. Perfect tailoring and striking draping are often features in her work, as are dramatic beading and nature-based abstract prints.
“I love draping, making dreamy gowns and embellishment,” she notes. “So I’m a sucker for beautiful flowing silk and Swarovski stones!” For inspiration, she always goes back to her first design love. “It depends on the collection I am working on, generally I love anything that has intricate design or structure. So design-wise, I still tend to go back in the Galliano archives, which never cease to inspire me.”
Claire O’Connor pieces are bold and eye-catching, perfect for daring women who like to stand out in a crowd.
“The Claire O’Connor woman is her own woman, mistress of her own destiny,” says O’Connor. “Highly individualistic and non-conformist. Loves beauty and craftsmanship. Loves clothes which emphasise the feminine form, but which make a strong statement. She sees clothes as a form of self-expression and what she likes to express is joy in life.”
O’Connor is currently working on her next couture collection, and reveals that she has changed her design production order to be more sustainable – for the planet and her own creative process.
“With fashion moving so fast,” she says, “and designers dropping new collections every other month, the most challenging aspect is trying to keep up. That’s why I have always focused on a more bespoke couture collection for individual clients. Essentially I am spending more time on a smaller collection, so as to focus on pieces that are timeless, as opposed to a seasonal trend. I have always been conscious of excessive waste and doing my bit for the old planet – long before it became trendy – so I am therefore more focused on quality. That results in a collection that’s always been both sustainable and ethical, all while continuing to be desirable and wearable.”