Not only does Sean Byrne in our Dublin store know all about fashion and styling on the work floor, he also designs actual fashion garments in his free time under the brand name Sean Byrne Couture. Having dressed the first Lady of Ireland, actress Sarah Greene and make-up artist Lynn Johnston for the Oscars the Style Advisor/Designer is not too shabby at it either. We asked him all about it.
What is it that you do as a fashion designer and where did it all start?
As I fashion designer I create bespoke and ready to wear clothing for ladies and men. It started when I was a child and used to look at my grandmother getting ready for the social functions she used to attend. It just fascinated me for some reason. It then became a goal to become a designer.
How did you learn your design skills?
I first did a city and guilds course in fashion design and then went on to do my degree at the Grafton academy in Dublin. I moved to London when I was 30 and worked as an intern for Burberry Prorsum for 1 year, I then returned to Dublin and set up my own small business.
What’s your design aesthetic and price range?
I design mainly tailoring. I work on cut, proportion and quality. I believe less is more. Good tailoring executed well along with luxury materials is enough to make any woman look beautiful. I work with wools from Ireland, silks from Paris and I have a secret contact in Italy where I get my cashmeres from! My price range starts at £600 for a simple dress and goes up from there; £900 for a suit and £1200 for full-length, but these are just estimates.
How did you build your client network?
I won the ‘Irish designer of the year’ award in 2012 so this provided me with immediate exposure which gave me a good start. I developed a good reputation with the Irish press, which helped me dress some of the bigger names in the industry
What achievement are you most proud of?
I dressed Irish make-up artist Lynn Johnston for the oscars a few years back for her nomination. Ive also dressed the first lady of Ireland and Tony-nominated actress Sarah Greene. The achievement I'm most proud of is when I dress somebody and they thank me and are happy with what I've done for them.
How does you being a fashion designer tie in with your work at Harvey Nichols?
It really ties in with my job as I can see quite quickly what’s going to work on a woman or a man proportion-wise. I’m also able to help with quick alterations on the shop floor which helps me and the team.
How is Harvey Nichols supporting your career as a Fashion Designer?
They are supporting it massively and they help me in many ways! I recently came back from a couture course in Paris and Harvey Nichols gave me the time off immediately when I asked for it, which was amazing.
What do you need to succeed in the design industry?
You need to be on it 100% all the time and not doubt your vision. If you believe in your vision you should try to not allow anyone to dilute it. And you have to work very very hard.
Where do you get your design inspiration from?
Film noir, a film genre that consists of Hollywood crime dramas. Also, the people around me, cities I’ve visited, songs and my dog! It could be anything; as long as you have your eyes open to the world around you and are able to see the beauty in the most simpilistic of things you can be inspired by anything.
What advice do you have for others who are interested in becoming a fashion designer?
Realise that Glamour and the fun part of fashion are 1%; the other 99% is hard work and can be lonely but it’s worth it if you love it!