NORTH Clare milliner Margaret O’Connor has just returned home from China this week with a Global Innovation Design Award, having showcased at Guangzhou International Fashion Week.
The Boston, Tubber woman was invited to design a collection of hats to complement a line of clothing by London-based fashion designer Derek Lawlor at the event in China.
Margaret made 15 hats accompanying Derek Lawlor’s 30 looks at a catwalk event, as part of the international fashion week.
Exhibited as a designer in her own right, Margaret was delighted to then be chosen as the recipient of a Global Innovation Design Award at the closing of the 10-day fashion extravaganza.
Guangzhou International Fashion Week showcased more than 150 designers across its programme of events and Margaret said she was delighted to be the only Irish designer among them. She explained how a friend of Derek’s felt his line needed a little something extra and he approached Margaret to create stunning hats to complement his work.
“It went down a storm. It was a fashion show and it was the same as if it was at London or Milan Fashion Week but it was in China. It was just fabulous.
“I had two personal translators. The government brought us over. China wants to break the stereotype of China copying everything so they wanted to introduce European and international designers. I was the only Irish person,” she said.
Margaret has exhibited with Derek on a number of occasions in the past in London and Ireland and they are great friends. She explained that he has Irish roots but is firmly based in Britain.
The North Clare milliner explained that there was a novelty associated with her Irishness and his roots, but also noted that their collection was very different as it was a knitwear collection. This, she said, led to them receiving plenty of attention.
“Everyday we had press conferences talking about our work. Our work is just different to what they are used to. We were on the television every night and then we got an award. We were surprised it went so well. We were delighted,” she said.
Margaret’s designs were knitwear hats, which is a new departure for her, but she said she still used her own signature shapes in her designs, while tying in with Derek Lawlor’s own look.
By Carol Byrne