My most sustainable collection yet

donegal lambswool irish design french designer

I set myself the challenge of making my most sustainable collection yet this Autumn. After seeing Demain (Tomorrow, ) last April in France, I just needed to do something about what I will call “my stock situation”. Ever since I started making in the fashion world, one question kept on coming back : what is the point of producing more fashion, more clothes, when resources are limited and there are already so many out there?! And every time I fell in love with new fabrics and the creative juices kept me going and I replied to my question saying: “Well you’re offering an alternative Sophie, what you’re making is as thought through as possible in terms of low impact and you produce fairly and locally….

What is sustainable fashion?

organic cotton dress made and designed in ireland sustainable fashion

The Irish Times just published a piece on sustainable fashion in Ireland and to prepare for this piece Irish Times journalist Dominique McMullan recently emailed me a few questions. One of them read like this: “What aims should a company have if they want to produce ethical and sustainable fashion?” It is a very good question indeed and I replied this: When I started out, I wanted to make as low an impact environmentally and socially as possible. These were my aims. At the time, 2002, most of the the companies working with organic cotton were in Germany and so I decided to research options. I went to Natural textiles fairs in Germany, I went to Biofach( the biggest organic fair in the world) in Nuhrenberg…

Behind the scenes fashion photoshoot


“My Spring Summer 16 woman is wise, strong and independent yet very much in touch with her vulnerability, her inner child”, I wrote to Pat McHugh, the photographer I chose to shoot my new collection. I had sent him pictures of the place and described how we could use its wild quirkiness. My friend Carl had shown me around his studio in Rathmichael and I could visualise creatures of fairy tales when we went there. The dishevelled-looking trees and the overgrowth of grasses and plants were very interesting looking. The intricate trees and thorny bushes of Sleeping Beauty, and the threatening woods of Little Red Riding Hood came to mind. I decided to use trees as props and create a set with accessories gathered at the wonderful…

I tell love stories with natural/organic fabrics

organic-natural fabrics

  I heard Rick Owens recently saying that, (I am paraphrasing) he was making a poetic statement with his new collection for Autumn Winter 16 but that it wasn’t a manifesto, he did not want to preach. No-one wants to be preached to I thought but yet if you are setting out to make a statement at all whether it be poetic or otherwise you are delivering a message so why not make it intentional and take pride in it. When I founded Unicorn Design in 2003, I set out some basic criteria, intentions by which I would abide. For example, the cotton I would use would always be certified organic and any other fabric I would choose to work with would be natural and…

A print and a trim – Spring Summer 16 – Fashion


  My Spring Summer 16 collection was brewing within as always before I start to sketch it. Someone mentioned the word textile print in casual conversation and it sparked it. I remembered how Olga Tiernan was a member of a textile printing collective called Print Block in Dublin and I decided to look up her website. There they were, two completely original prints, quirky, very eye-catching without being stunningly beautiful. Just inspiring. Olga did work experience with me after finishing textile printing College in Edinburgh, about 8-9 years ago now. We got on great and have kept in touch since. We share the same passion for eco friendly fabrics and a sustainable lifestyle. It was easy to get the ball rolling. It is one of…

Skinny dipping by the full supermoon eclipse

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It was a very spontaneous decision. I had read in the Irish Times internet feed earlier that day that there would be a total eclipse of the full moon and that this would be exceptional as this was a supermoon, i.e., the moon is closer to the Earth than usual. And the thought popped into my head straight away: I have to witness this, the sky could not be clearer and in Ireland it is a chance you just have to grab. So I mentioned it to a couple of friends and Louise said yes to getting up at 3 am to witness it with me by the sea in Greystones and to swim when the eclipse was complete. It was so exhilarating a thought...

The Burren

I made a pilgrimage of sort back to the Burren recently, an area of the west of Ireland that holds a very special place in my heart. It is a landscape made up of slabs of limestones interspersed with gorgeously subtle site-specific vegetation. It is a place you feel as much as you see, smell and touch. It excites all the senses and its energy and purity is unique in my experience. It resources me deeply. I love the word resource and resourcing. I am using it now more than ever and it is a word very much associated with sustainability. In this context however it means reconnecting with what is essential, and nourishing my life force at source, at its core. I first came...

5 Years at the Garden of Unicorn

I just celebrated five years at the Garden of Unicorn with a lovely outdoor fashion garden party. It is hard to believe that I have been here so long, time just flew! I have been very lucky to be able to host outdoor fashion shows in the front garden of the boutique/studio space each season. It only rained on us once and we used gazebos and umbrellas for the models, and it worked! You get used to the unpredictable weather in Ireland and learn to make do with it, hope for the best and juggle with other plans when it doesn't work out! You could say it is actually really good for the entrepreneurial mind, it forces you to adjust plans very quickly and helps...