- 19 Aug 19
Clare O’Connor is first and foremost an artist, and her luxury brand allows customers to wear, breathe and embody art every day.
“I was always into art, art was my favourite subject from primary school all the way to my Leaving Cert,” reflects Clare O’Connor. “By sixth year I had murals all over the walls and wardrobes in my bedroom, and I either had blue, purple or pillar-box red hair. It was like I walked out of one of my paintings, always wearing colourful stripy tights and vintage funky dresses, the more vibrant and clashing the better!”
O’Connor has a degree in design communications/interactive media, and another in visual arts practice, specialising in painting, printmaking and photography, both from IADT. Her multi-layered artistic talents have led to some truly incredible career highlights, including working with the German visual artist Thomas Kilpper. While living in the city, she also worked on the Venice Biennale – the world-renowned art exhibition held every two years, which represents artists from all over the world.
“I had a very creative period in Venice,” reflects O’Connor. “I created a huge body of paintings and print. While I was there, I also got the idea to develop a brand of clothing and accessories based on my art. In addition, I was thrilled to be asked to be in the Imago Mundi catalogue of 144 artists, representing Ireland in the Luciano Benetton collection. Since launching my business a year-and-a-half ago, I have been nominated for three awards, and I was a finalist for the Accessory Designer of the Year in the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards. I was also a finalist for the New Business category in the Meath Style Awards. It was really lovely to have my brand and my work acknowledged.”
O’Connor launched her award-nominated luxury brand of wearable art, with a first collection of silk and cashmere scarves in vibrant colours, all encapsulating O’Connor’s artistic aesthetic.
“My paintings, which my brand is based on, are vibrant, colourful, positive and energetic. They aim to lift up the viewer, and they will really appeal to customers who enjoy and appreciate art, luxury and living a positive lifestyle. My scarves are unique, striking and luxurious statement pieces. They are a versatile, large oblong size, which makes luxury easy to wear every day.”
O’Connor’s brand is completely inspired by her abstract painting techniques, as well as her background in design and photography.
“I love to combine collage, organic, and organised forms; energetic mark making; juxtaposed layers; and thrown paint and drips, with the aim of creating and communicating a heightened sense of positive energy.
“I then take photos of my paintings, and I use sections for my designs and take them into Photoshop, where I sometimes layer them further or just use them as they are.”
Just like her artistic talents, O’Connor’s upcoming projects are an exciting mix of fashion, art and design.
“I have just completed my collaboration with Paula Rafferty, who is an artist and textile designer from Limerick,” O’Connor explains. “We have created a piece that will be revealed at the end of August at the CIFD Media Day. Our piece is a juxtaposed clash of different techniques, methods and fabric manipulations, coming together using my first silk and cashmere samples, and Paula’s Shibori natural silk and cotton fabrics.
“Like my paintings and Paula’s Patchwork & Quilts, we’ve created something that is a synergy of materials. I was also recently selected by the Design Council to have a weeklong residency in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Tyrone in August, so I plan to use the time to create new paintings, and experiment with fabrics and patterns. I hope to create a series of dresses and kimonos in the future, so I plan to use this time to really play with forms, patterns and techniques.”
• O’Connor’s beautiful scarves are available online at clareoconnor.net and in Marion Cuddy’s Irish Designers Emporium in the Powerscourt Town Centre, House Of Ireland on Grafton Street, and The Designer Exchange on Exchequer Street.