THE Oscars take place this weekend and as well as having Irish interest in the nominees, there is additional excitement about this country’s fashion input.
Irish designer and Galway Technical Institute fashion design graduate, Laura Jayne Halton will dress Oscar nominee Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly for the awards taking place in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
The commission came about as a result of an interview with Ms Cronin O’Reilly on RTÉ 1’s John Murray Show on January 23, where the film producer spoke about her Oscar-nominated Best Short Animated Film, Head Over Heels and her desire to wear an Irish dress on the red carpet.
Maynooth woman Laura Jayne, who also studied furniture design and manufacture in Letterfrack, was listening to the interview and heard the West Kerry native say she hadn’t settled on a dress yet.
“I looked up Fodhla’s email address and just sent her a quick paragraph to congratulate her first and sent her a link to my website and ‘Look Book’ and if she liked what she was looking at, to get in contact,” says Laura Jayne.
The young designer was very surprised to find an email half an hour later from Cronin O’Reilly’s London-based stylist Selina Mills to say she absolutely loved her work.
“They said ‘could you do up a few sketches?’ and I did that and sent it off. By 8.30am the next morning, Selina Mills was on the phone to say, ‘These are exquisite and we’d be delighted to have you as the designer’.”
A week of sleepless nights followed for Laura Jayne, as she embarked on the herculean task of making a couture gown in five days in order to have it ready for Fodhla’s departure for Los Angeles on January 31.
Laura Jayne’s education and background was pivotal, she says, in gaining the confidence to get the commission and then the discipline to complete the work on such a tight schedule.
After completing her degree in Letterfrack in 2004, Australia beckoned for the young designer, where she put her college education to the test, refurbishing a golf resort. This was followed by a sojourn in the US where she beat off competition from eight other designers to design the artistic illustrations for Sarah Jessica Parker’s fragrance campaign and website, working in conjunction with Iris Global Marketing NYC and Coty Fragrances International.
“Sarah Jessica wanted an artist to work with… So I submitted fashion-inspired mood boards. I’d always been sketching fashion designs, so for the mood boards, I worked in colour, incorporated trends and the notes in the fragrances into the design.”
Returning home in 2009, the recession was in full swing with the collapse in the construction industry having a knock-on effect on the demand for bespoke furniture design. Undaunted by this, Laura Jayne looked for new opportunities and enrolled in the one-year fashion design course in GTI.
“My passion was always fashion but I never really considered it as a career until the recession came. I threw myself into the course and I really believe that you get what you give.”
Her work was quickly noticed and after just three months, she was nominated for Student Designer of the Year at the 2010 Golden Egg Fashion Innovation Awards.
Although she didn’t win, Laura Jayne is fulsome in her praise for the awards and the opportunity presented to young designers.
“The best part was seeing my design come out on the model on the proper catwalk. I welled up a bit and my close friends and family that attended were so proud.”
Three years later, with an Oscar commission under her belt, Laura Jayne has been dubbed ‘One to Watch’ by the organisers of the 2013 Golden Egg Fashion Innovation Awards and will be back in Galway, at the Radisson Blu Hotel on March 28 to showcase her collection.
Laura Jayne is keeping mum on the dress Fodhla will be wearing on Sunday night.
“It’s such a wonderful occasion, it’s nice to keep an element of mystery and suspense about it,” says Laura Jayne.
She does reveal, “It’s very classic and feminine. It’s an approach I take with all of my designs and it suits Fodhla down to a T, well hopefully.”
Laura Jayne will get the opportunity to personally fit her dress on Fodhla because of the generosity of James Murphy, CEO of Galway-based company Lifes2Good, who heard Laura Jayne’s interview on John Murray’s show.
She leaves Ireland on Thursday and while she doesn’t have a ticket for the Oscar ceremony, she is looking forward to the Oscar Wilde Party, which this year honours Colin Farrell.
“I keep having to pinch myself to remind myself that this is all real,” concludes Laura Jayne.