By Julie-Ann Sherlock

My home country of Ireland is famous for many things, Guinness, U2, Baileys, The Cranberries, whiskey and Snow Patrol—yes, alcohol and music are amongst our most famous exports. Throw in some quality dairy, a few famous writers and sportspeople, and you have discovered what makes us tick—food, drink, sport and word artistry. 

We also are known to have the “Craic” (not to be mistaken for the illegal drug), a word used to sum up our love of a bit of banter, fun and laughter, often found in another of our exports—the Irish pub.

One thing we are not so well known for, however, is our fashion. Sure, we have had some designers making waves down the years with Philip Tracey being a well-known hatmaker to the Royals, Paul Costello earning the role of Princess Diana’s go-to designer and Orla Kiely’s instantly recognisable designs winning fans the world over. But is that all that Irish fashion has to offer? Heck no! 

The Best Of Irish

Any fashionista worth her salt should be exploring the trendsetting designs coming from the Emerald Isle. From ethical brands to edgy designs that would make Vivian Westwood gasp, Ireland’s designers are on top of their game right now. We take a look at five designers to make your heart race and have you reaching for your bank card faster than an Irish person can drink a shot! (We don’t all drink btw!)

Helen Steele

*Bias Alert* This talented artist and designer is based near my hometown, but local hero status aside, her clothing lines rock! Multiple Oscar-nominated Saoirse Ronan, model/actress Cara Delevingne and musician Rita Ora are all fans too

Helen’s joyous use of colour brings a warm burst of sunshine to any dull Irish day. Combined with her artistic designs and commitment to sustainability, her range makes her one of Ireland’s stand out fashion gurus. Putting fun and funk front and centre has Helen’s Collections flying off the racks.

Natalie B Coleman

Sorry, (not sorry), but it’s not my fault another of Ireland’s most celebrated designers hails from my hometown area. Natalie deserves her place in the list due to her awesomeness (a trait I have to say is common in people from Monaghan). 

Not only has she won numerous awards, dressed people like Lily Collins and Mary J Blige and featured in fashion bibles such as Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmo, but Natalie was also chosen to team up with the UN on a special project. In 2018, her “Sisters” collection came out to celebrate the UN’s 25th anniversary of women’s reproductive rights, becoming a fundamental rights campaign. 

Always on-trend, Natalia currently has a small selection of designer face masks available. Grab them now! 

Sorcha O’Raghallaigh

Embarrassingly for Sorcha, she does not hail from Monaghan, but that flaw does not make her any less mention-worthy. When you have A-listers like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Queen B herself (or Beyonce as her mother calls her) wearing your work, you are certainly doing something right! 

This Irish designer is scorching hot. With headpieces that scream for attention, jewellery begging to be worn and red-carpet ready glittering gowns, her collection is eclectic yet glamorous. Truly swoonsome stuff.

John and Simone Rocha

Hold onto your Tracey hats because you are getting two designers for the price of one. Bargain! 

Hong Kong-born, John made a long career out of dressing Irish women. His pret-a-porter Rocha John Rocha, easy to wear clothing graced department stores in the UK and Ireland alongside his jewellery and household ranges. He may have retired in 2014, but his legacy and designs live on. 

Following in her famous father’s footsteps—but stepping out of his shadow—is his daughter Simone. Carving her own niche, Simone’s collections have a retro-futuristic vibe. Stealing elements from eras past and giving them modern twists, her clothing is a divine mix of romantic femininity and an almost sinister darkness. A recent Moncler Genius project is sure to send her reputation stratospheric. 

Una Burke

If dominatrix-style leather catsuits or sexy bustiers are your thing, then Una is your woman. If you have less of a kinky nature and just adore eye-poppingly beautiful leather handbags and jewellery, she is still your go-to Irish designer. 

Creating stunning clothing and accessories worn by everyone from Rhianna to Nicki Minaj, Una has cornered the niche leatherwear market in Ireland and possibly, globally. Some of her designs have shown up in the Hunger Games and Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood video, earning her an extensive list of celebrity fans. If she’s good enough for Gaga…

I hope this quick run-through of some of Ireland’s most exciting designers has dispelled the myth that we are just a bunch of Aran sweater, tweed cap-wearing people propping up the bar singing Zombie with Ulysses under our arm. Yes, we do all those things, but thanks to some amazing fashion brands, we do them with style!