Glynis Robins’s new clothing owes a debt to Harry Clarke

Clothes, poetry and stained glass: Glynis Robins fuses art and fashion

Glynis Robins brings an artistic touch to everything she creates whether in her garden, her home or in the wonderful clothing she once made and sold in her shop in Dalkey. People will remember the hand embellishment, the knitting, crochet, embroidery and beading that became her signature.

Now, however, having moved to Bray, Co Wicklow, painting and drawing have become her focus as well as her fairytale two-acre woodland garden.

In her studio, a converted hay barn attached to the house, she has just completed a very special art meets fashion project, a collection of clothes based on Harry Clarke’s stained-glass depictions of JM Synge’s 1902 poem Queens written in Wicklow which begins “Seven dog days we let it pass/Naming the Queens in Glenmacnass/All the rare and royal names/Wormy sheepskin yet retains.”

Designed in several panels, it mirrors the nine intricately drawn then subsequently painted by Clarke on layered panels of glass etched through to as many as six tones of ultramarine blue, sumptuous gold pink, rich ruby, blue and blue again (according to Nicola Gordon Bowe’s description in her book on Harry Clarke) “each queen fantastically depicted whether exotically beautiful, pockmarked, villainous or alluring”.


Reading about Clarke’s drawings and panels in a magazine some years ago gave Robins the idea of responding by making 28 corresponding outfits in an undertaking that took nearly 10 years’ work and was finally completed during lockdown. “I used a lot of antique fabrics because I have been collecting antique laces, jewellery, braid and old fabrics – I still make things for the family and myself,” she says. “It was a challenge.”

The tableaux photographed here by Barry McCall in Robins’s garden are of groups of queens who include Etain, Helen, Maeve, Fand and Deirdre and, in another coincidence, among the models is Aine O’Gorman, the great granddaughter of Harry Clarke. It is not often that a fashion designer responds to an artist who in turn has responded to a poem, which makes Robins’s project unique and valuable and its layering – black lace over gold silk, black tulle over bright pink and the glorious shawls and headdresses – might have been appreciated by Clarke himself.

Though the clothes were not designed for sale, anybody wishing to purchase, can email Glynis Robins at

Additional fine vintage jewellery supplied by Elva Robins at

Some of the lace wraps can be found in Billie & Oso at 205 Harold’s Cross Road, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 8.