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“In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre.” – Interview with Irish Fashion Designer Sinéad Doyle

March 16, 2010

Irish fashion scene has always fascinated me with its craftsmanship, imagination, and charged emotion. There is a lot of individuality and little mainstream in Irish designs as they are inspired mainly by the designers’ view on fashion.

When I learnt about Sinéad Doyle’s A/W 2010 collection, I decided that it is the perfect opportunity to introduce her through my blog, since I always loved her work.  I am not going to list her numerous awards, achievements and press in my post, as I would like to give a more personal picture of Sinéad through my introduction and interview with her.

Sinead Doyle Irish Fashion

I was always impressed by how Sinéad’s expertise, which she gained working in different areas of fashion, influenced her style. Sinéad used to work for a menswear label, which shows in the precise tailoring, attention to details and elaborate patterns of her early collections. Later, Sinéad travelled to Italy, where she worked for Venetian Costume and Couture house, which gave her a very different perspective on fashion and also served as an inspiration for her A/W 2010 collection.

Sinead Doyle Irish Designer

“In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain.”- Arbit Blatas

Sinéad’s newest collection is entitled “Echoes” and is inspired by “by the dishevelled elegance of Venice, with a subtle palette taken straight from the wintery pathways and canals of the Carnereggio district where she once worked.” Her structured silhouette is replaced by feminine draping, hand stitched lace, and beading, while retaining Sinéad’s signature tailoring.

Sinead Doyle Irish Fashion

When did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Probably not until about third year in college! I wanted to be a costume designer and didn’t have a huge interest in fashion until quite late in the day. Initially it was a book called “The Supermodern Wardrobe” by Andrew Bolton that inspired me to think of fashion differently and by the end of third year, once I realised that fashion was my passion, I had moved from average grades to the top of the class and stared winning awards.

What was the first piece of clothing you designed?

Does fashion wheel (the kids game) count?  I know I used to read books and then design clothes for the characters when I was younger. Just so I had ideas ready when I was called on to be the costume designer for the movie adaptation. The first thing I made was my Debs dress. It was hideous. Purple swathes of chiffon and silver ribbon and a huge collar supported by wire that looked like something the evil queen in Snow White would wear. I’d never even used a sewing machine before and there was no pattern. Even though it was awful, I loved it and at least I looked different from everyone else.

Could you describe the general process you go through to design and a piece/collection?

I usually have an idea in mind and will start researching that. It can be a solid idea like an era of art history or something vague like decay or protection. Then I start collecting images and information and start to look at the trend predictions for the year ahead and begin to see how everything fits together. When I meet fabric suppliers I usually have an idea of what I’m looking for but then it can completely alter if I fall in love with a particular fabric. 
Could you describe the woman who wears your clothes?

It really varies. Age and occupation can be anything but I do notice that when I sell direct most of my customers are city dwellers and professionals. I suppose with a lot of tailoring, that’s the sort of customer I will get.  
Who is/are your favorite fashion designers(s)?

Nicholas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga. He is so experimental with fabrics and cut and yet he acknowledges the heritage of the house and the designs are wearable. I love Vivienne Westwood too. It’s all about the cut and drape with her clothing. I suppose I’m always impressed by designers who show a great technical expertise. John Galliano and the late Alexander McQueen would be other fashion heroes of mine.
How do you choose your models?

Being a small designer I often take part in group shows so I don’t have a say but for SS11 I’m so lucky to have signed a deal with Elite Model Look Ireland 2010 so that my collection will be worn by the girls in the Irish finals later in the year. I’ll be working with Elite Model Look over the next few months and will be able to fit the clothing to the models so everything is perfect on the night. I’m very excited about this. 
For photoshoots I look through portfolios and usually there’s a mood I have in mind and usually the right girl just pops out. Then it’s a matter of availability and all the little details.
What is the most important thing to you as a fashion designer?
Quality of materials and finish. Cut. I focus on details a lot. People wanting to wear my clothes is important to me too of course so comfort is a factor.
Do you prefer sketching you ideas or constructing the garments?

I like both but constructing is a big part of design for me. I’ll sketch, make a toile, cut that up, change things, re-sketch and work in a very three dimensional way.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?

Don’t give up. It’s a hard slog. You have to work for free a lot but for all the lows there are creative highs that you won’t get in a 9-5 jobs.
How would you describe your personal style?
Tailored, slightly masculine. Fitted and tailored clothing work best on my body shape so my style has evolved around that. 
What are your favorite colors and patterns to work with and why?

I have worked a lot with dark and neutral colours in the past but I’m going to move away from that and become more playful next season. I also used to be focused on panelled garment, flat cutting and tailoring but have been experimenting with drape for the last three seasons with some great results and this is an entirely different  type of pattern cutting. In both these areas there’s constant evolution.
In terms of fabric, I look working with wools. Especially mid-heavy weight winter wools. Easier to work with and oddly satisfying.

Sinead Doyle Irish fashion

Photography by Mike Patterson (, Make-up by Malvina Barrett (, Hair by Jane Akkerman, Models Grace Connell and Veronika Rajaste, Shoes by and behind the scenes shots by Mark Grealish ( )

Sinéad is currently selling her designs in the Dublin Loft Market of the Powerscourt Centre

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 9:16 pm

    Ohmigosh Alice. Not only is this a phenomenal interview (magazine worthy, my love!); but you have introduced me to a new obsession – Sinead’s designs are gorgeous!! 🙂

  2. March 16, 2010 10:53 pm

    Great interview! I love that dress.

  3. March 17, 2010 2:11 am

    Fantastic interview! I love her designs, especially the dress — I would love to wear it!!!

  4. March 22, 2010 5:25 pm

    Great interview, I had never heard of Sinéad Doyle’s will definitely watch for her now that I know.

  5. Abigail permalink
    July 23, 2010 10:57 am

    Alice, that interview is AMAZING!!! really well done! and loving Sineid’s designs

  6. December 9, 2010 12:22 pm

    Waouh it’s amazing!! mon anglais n’est pas très bon , j’adore votre blog, je l’ai rajouté dans mes favoris!!Very good interview


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