Making any size or shape look good

Designer Marie Forkin says she can make women of any shape and size look good. It’s all in the cut


The proud claim of the Dublin-based fashion designer Marie Forkin, who specialises in hand-tailored made-to- measure outfits from her salon on Fitzwilliam Square, is: “Give me a person of any shape or size and I will make them look gorgeous.” Anyone who watched the former Eurovision winner Eimear Quinn performing at the Royal Albert Hall during President Higgins visit to London last month will remember the singer’s blue silk gown – stunning and sparkling with blue, green and amber crystals made by Forkin for the occasion. “If you really flatter a person’s silhouette, you are home and dry,” she says. “It’s about enhancing a person’s strong points. I knew I could give her something edgy, feminine and still understated.” A fashion graduate of Limerick School off Art and Design, from Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, Forkin went on to study tailoring in London and worked for many years with the fashion designer Catherine Walker (a favourite of the British royals – particularly the late Princess Diana). Later she worked with the Savile Row tailor William Hunt, whose customers have included the Spice Girls, Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton. Later still, she spent time working with the high-street stores Wallis and Dorothy Perkins in ready-to-wear. When she returned to Ireland she brought 16 years of experience and shape engineering under her belt with her.

Today, her customers include mothers of the bride both here and in London, Saudi royals and women over 25 who just want something extra special for an event or a celebration. For an Irish client being presented to the Queen Elizabeth in June, she has made a sweeping black coat and an evening dress with handstitched jewellery. For a mother of the bride who is walking her daughter down the aisle, she is fashioning a full- length gown: “personally I hate lace dresses on them. Mothers of the bride still want the dress-and-coat ensemble – the whole idea being that they can wear them again’’. She can also arrange for silk dresses to be redyed by a specialist in London.

Forkin is known for her emphasis on structure and building shape without corsetry into a silhouette “I hate slip dresses and find them the most difficult to make”, she cuts an individual pattern for each client, as well as customising from existing ones, “so a client can have a new look with a different fabric”. Normally there are up to three fittings with a lead-in time of eight to 12 weeks – though she has made a wedding dress in just three days. “My forte is that I can sit and listen to them and figure out what suits them best.”

Her style, underpinned by creative pattern cutting, skilful sculpting and artful use of jewelling, has an identity all of its own that she describes as “clean, chic and contemporary”. Such outfits are destined for a soignée life longer than a season. Wherever Eimear Quinn wears that silk dress again, she will always shine.

Marie Forkin 
58 Fitzwilliam Square North, Dublin
086-172 1563

Photographs: Agata Stoinska.
Model: Theo Sutra from First Options.
Stylist: Tanya Grimson.
Hair and make up: Bill Orr.
Shoes from Brown Thomas