The Parisian designer produces the “Lisdoonvarna Dress”

Irish fashion designer Seán Byrne based in Paris

by Patricia Killeen

A Paris-based Irish couture fashion designer, who took inspiration from the famous Lisdoonvarna twinning festival and famous showgirl Margaret Kelly, created the 2021 ‘Lisdoonvarna Dress’.

In today’s haute couture world, this is all the rage for renowned designers such as Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri look to the times for inspiration.

Our own Irish fashion designer, Sean Byrne, took inspiration from the historic Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival and its iconic ballrooms 165 years ago and created the ‘Lisdoonvarna Dress‘ 2021. His fashion statement creates a bond between Paris, the City of Light and Lisdoonvarna, the small town of Love.

Byrne also referred to Margaret Kelly, a Paris-based Irish woman (1910-2004), the most historic showgirl of all time. Kelly has been nicknamed “Miss Bluebell” because of her striking hyacinth-colored eyes. Born in Ireland, Kelly then moved to the UK, traveled to Paris in the 1930s and worked as a dancer at the Folies Bergère before founding her own troupe “The Bluebell Girls” which is still part of the legendary “LIDO de Paris. ” today. .

In the style of a fiery Irish woman, she also succeeded in leading the Nazis into occupied Paris in a merry dance, escaping their clutches and then hiding her Jewish husband in an attic during much of the occupation.

Byrne is honored to have been selected as the second Paris-based fashion designer to create a “Lisdoonvarna dress”. In 2019, Kim Bernardin, a Korean fashion designer created the first dress that was presented on the catwalks in Paris and New York.

Byrne’s creativity and dedication to his craft make him one of Ireland’s fashion leaders. After graduating from Grafton Academy in 2010, he moved to London to work in the fashion industry. He returned to Dublin in 2012 and opened his studio on Drury Street. During this time, he uses bespoke techniques for his private clientele and also creates ready-to-wear which is stocked in the prestigious “Brown Thomas” department store in Dublin. He has dressed many Irish stage and screen stars for events including the Oscars. He also dressed Ireland’s First Lady Sabina Higgins for official engagements.

However, even if he had “done” it at home, Paris, the heart of fashion beckoned to him and in 2019 he began a Master at the “School of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne”, (ECSCP ). He is the only Irishman to have been accepted into this prestigious school where Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld studied.

His Master’s degree with excellent mention from the ECSCP in his pocket, he has just entered the Haute Couture house of Julien Fournié.

Byrne is very much in touch with his “Irishness” and loves the idea of ​​interweaving French and Irish culture, while celebrating how Irish and French like to come together on the floors of their respective mythical ballrooms. “I am delighted to pay tribute to Lisdoonvarna and the fabulous Irishwoman Margaret Kelly, who left a huge mark on the Parisian scene, especially since 2021 is the ‘111’ anniversary of her birth. I consider my creation to be the “Lisdoonvarna-Kelly dress”.

Sean’s spectacular gown will incorporate the ballroom romance of desire with Kelly-style elegance. It is mainly created in renaissance white, its curved basque literally embraces the feminine silhouette. The touch of black on the dress is both elegant and also reminiscent of the dark times overcame by Kelly. The dress will be accessorized in the Parisian “show girl” style in tribute to Kelly.

In remembrance of his date of birth, Byrne will also conceal the number “111” in his creation; the number recalls the tattoo she would have worn if the Irish diplomat, Count Gerald Edward O’Kelly (1890-1968) had not succeeded in granting her an Irish passport and being released from the Nazi camp in Besançon, in the east of France, where she was interned. “The dress is a timeless piece and the neckline recalls the cut of the dresses of the 40s and 50s that Kelly preferred”.

Parisians and expats in Paris can’t wait to get back to normal social life, unroll their dresses and come together to dance and romance. The atmosphere at the “Lisdoonvarna-Paris, Franco-Irish ball” in September 2021, where Byrne’s dress will be modeled by an Irish showgirl, will hopefully be similar to that of the post-war period where Parisians put on dancing shoes, lifted his heels and danced in the streets of Paris, to celebrate the return of freedom …

Byrne’s “Lisdoonvarna Dress” will also be flown to Ireland and presented at the 166th Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Julie Carr, the festival’s marketing and public relations manager, said it was “fantastic publicity.”

Willie Daly, added “It’s great to be associated with Paris in the spirit of love, music and dance,” I hope some of the Parisian showgirls will also come to Lisdoonvarna; they will be absolutely delighted with the dance steps of Irish singles ”.

* Patricia Killeen is a writer and host for “Turning Points”, on Radio Mondiale Paris.

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