Dublin’s fashion world turns out in force to celebrate life of Richard Lewis

Tributes were paid to Lewis’s personality and sense of fun – his kindness, modesty and altruism

Members of Dublin's fashion world turned out in force on Monday for the funeral in the Victorian Chapel in Mount Jerome of veteran designer Richard Lewis, who died aged 73 last week after a long illness.

The service was conducted by Father Paul Ward (in an alb made by the designer), who spoke of their long friendship, with contributions from four other lifelong associates – artist Bernadette Madden, photographer Breffni Ryan, Jackie McGrath, Finian O Shea and Tona O Brien, all of whom referred to Jim Greeley, Lewis's partner in life and business, who died in 2006.

Music was provided by harpist Denise Kelly with Mary Flynn singing some of the designer's favourite songs including Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine.

Lewis's sister Mary, who survives him, led the mourners in the chapel, which was filled to overflowing with friends, photographers, former models, fashion designers and many of his loyal followers including Marian Finucane, (who came dressed in a purple tweed suit Richard Lewis made for her wedding), Mari O'Leary, Sonia Reynolds, Barry McCall, Eddie Shanahan, Mike Bunn, Maureen Cairnduff, Eileen Pearson, Deborah Veale, Morag Prunty, Peter O Brien and Mariad Whisker as well as former Irish ambassador Seán Ó hUiginn, and Joe Brennan of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Yellow roses decorated the wicker coffin.

Tributes were paid to Lewis’s personality and sense of fun – his kindness, modesty and altruism, rather than references to the achievements and successes of his 50-year career which, as Fr Ward said, everyone took for granted.

The congregation was reminded of the designer’s enthusiasm for “the brave new world of the internet”, his voluntary work with his beloved partner Jim for the Samaritans and his ability to listen and to heal.

“He was a man of great elegance and good manners, well read and opinionated yet modest, shy and unassuming” recalled one friend. It summed up the general tone of the commemoration and the respect in which Richard Lewis was held by all.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author