Section: Inside Interview
Author: Fashion Team | More from this author >>>
Irish International fashion legend Paul Costelloe took time out of his busy schedule this week to chat with Fashion.ie’s Kevin O’Brien about his life and love for fashion. When Paul’s not jetting between New York, Milan and Paris on a weekly basis, getting ideas for new designs , he loves nothing more than chilling out on a Friday night with friends and few drinks. A true gentleman with a history of success with the ability to inspire any up and coming fashion designers.
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Booterstown House with my four sisters and two brothers. I’m the youngest of seven children.
How old were you when you first decided that you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I only ever wanted to be a cowboy.
If you weren't one of the top fashion designers in the world today, what other career path do you think you would have chosen and why?
I’d own a large ranch in Montana with a large swimming pool and keep cattle and horses.
Where did you train to be a fashion designer and briefly how did your career progress after qualifying?
I realized at School (I’m a Blackrock boy) that art was the only thing I was good at, I travelled to Paris in when I just turned 20 and trained at the Saint Honore Hautes Coutures boutiques and went on to become the design assistant to Jacques Esterel. After that, I spent years travelling to Milan and New York where I gained the essential skills for the industry, as well as absorbing the unique style of how women dressed in these great cities. I launched Paul Costelloe Collections in 1979.
In your view, what makes a good fashion designer?
Someone who believes in themselves and their identity as a designer. Never compare yourself to anyone else.
How did you get your first break?
Working with Jacques Esterel.
Does your fashion collection range cater for men and women of all sizes?
What’s your own personal favourite item you have designed and why is so special?
I loved the soft handle tweed coats from my A/W 2011 collection. When I get the opportunity to use fabrics from Ireland I try to create a great statement. That was a very successful collection because of it.
Do you think people nowadays are spoilt for choice when it comes to fashion compared to when you first started out?
Yes and all due to the High street “culture”. Too much choice tends to make shoppers insecure. They don’t feel special when buying a garment.
As a designer, what advice would you give someone when purchasing an item of clothing?
You must be in the right frame of mind when you shop. Shop early in the morning after a good breakfast so you’re refreshed and open minded.
The Costelloe brand has grown extensively since its earliest beginnings and now is a worldwide brand, why do you think this is?
I think branching out to menswear, home wear, jewelry etc is the answer. I’m still not known worldwide.
The main Costelloe Collection and Dressage Collection embrace your desire to dress “real women” in fabrics that “feel good and are fluid”. However, your menswear is probably the fastest growing area in the brand. What do you think attribute this to?
Menswear is still fairly new to me, so I’m still going through that “honeymoon” period. It’s very exciting.
Who is it easier to designer for, men or women and why?
Men. Any small extra detail on a garment, which is out of the norm, they really appreciate.
What is your favorite season for fashion and why?
Autumn/Winter. The fabrics tend to be far more exciting.
What is the simplest design you think could be in for all seasons?
It might be overrated, but a black dress is an essential for both seasons.
How do you think your clothes differ from other designers?
I use very special materials. Fabrics are, and always have been the priority in my designs.
Where do you get the inspiration from when designing?
I cycle everywhere. Every morning from my house in Putney to Central London I look at everything. Something as small as seeing a detail on someone’s jacket as they cross the road inspires me. I travel every week to Milan, Paris or New York. Travel is essential if a designer wants to be successful.
What are your favorite fabrics and materials you like to work with and why?
I love natural fabrics. Wool, silk, linen. They are so easy to manipulate into playful shapes for a collection.
Do you think with the high number of people emigrating from Ireland to countries like the US and Australia will benefit and grow the Costelloe brand internationally, explain?
No, I don’t think it will make any difference. The ones that leave will be missed.
We seems to be producing some pretty impressive Irish fashion designers with the likes of Natalie B Coleman, Heidi Higgins and Jennifer Rothwell but to name a few. Are there any Irish fashion designers that you personally can see breaking into the international markets in a big way in the coming years?
I have great respect for Orla Kiely.
How do you feel about celebrities getting all the latest fashion clothing and accessories when these are the people who can clearly afford to buy them?
Designers have to promote their creations. Sadly, this is the easiest route to go down.
How does Paul Costelloe relax?
By getting very pissed on a Friday night.
What type of music/ sports do you like?
I love all sports and all music…I like to think I have a very open mind. One has to be open to new genres etc if you want to keep up with the times and continue to create a growing brand. It’s all related.
If you could design any piece of clothing for a celebrity in the world today, who would you chose and what would you design?
I really don’t care…as long as they love wearing it.
What piece of clothing from your current collection is a must for a wife or girlfriend thinking of buying something for the man in their life and why?
Linen is BIG this season in menswear. A classic, relaxed linen shirt will last for years. A classic PC suit is a great investment…your man will never leave you after that purchase.
Your ambitions for the next decade seem for you to continue to expand into a new range of different products, including children’s wear, footwear, swimwear and fragrances, is this what motivates you, explain?
Just designing clothes is not enough to survive in this career these days. People want more. Huge brand names make more money on their perfumes and accessories collections, rather than their actual clothing. It’s a survival technique.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a designer?
Get plenty of experience and learn from OTHER people’s mistakes.
Author: Fashion Team | More from this author >>>