Love poetry inspires Caoimhe Murphy’s Create Brown Thomas debut

Murphy’s stand-out shapes are sensual and feminine, her approach romantic

Making her debut at Create in Brown Thomas on Tuesday, July 5th, is 26-year-old Dublin fashion designer and NCAD graduate Caoimhe Murphy, with a 40-piece collection inspired by Victorian love poetry. The event, now in its 12th year, champions Ireland’s design talent and for 2022 is showcasing the work of 27 designers selected by fashion buying director Shelly Corkery.

Murphy’s shapes stand out; they are sensual and feminine, her approach romantic and poetic, using the most delicate of fabrics such as tulle, voile and silk organza with frothy manipulations and embellishment. In her hands, an everyday staple such as a bomber jacket is refashioned in delicate black silk organza, its back composed of ruffled silk strips manipulated into heart shapes.

Her organic cotton dresses tell their own stories of love, the prints based on anatomical drawings of dilated pupils and physical hearts rather than the standard scalloped love hearts of the conventional Valentine’s Day type. Favourite lines from different poems collated in her own handwriting have been incorporated into the prints using technology, making them particularly personal.

“Whatever I make has to be special”, she says. “I am a very romantic person, very sentimental, always have been.” A childhood love of dressing up in her mother’s clothes and jewellery led to a gift of a sewing machine at the age of 11 and memories of “badly made bags” and sewing ostrich feathers on to the hem of a satin dress. That set her off on a path that led to studying fashion design and interning with luminaries Simone Rocha, Helen Cody and Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, before graduating in 2019.

She has drawn from each — from Rocha about forward planning, fabric sourcing and quality control, from O’Raghallaigh attention to detail, but she has learned the most from her “fairy godmother” Helen Cody, a relative who early on encouraged her talents and in 2008, when she was 12, used her to open her celebrated Circus show in the Spiegeltent in the Iveagh Gardens in an ivory silk and tulle dress. “That was the best day ever”, she recalls.

She launched her first collection in April 2021 which “was really about flexing creative muscles and trying new techniques”. This one for Create is her biggest so far with everything made by hand in Dublin including one top with a line from the famous sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” fashioned on net with tiny black glass beads around the neck.

“I have always appreciated the magic of what clothes can be, but I hope this collection is wearable and if made to order the sizing is from 6-20. Made-to-order cuts down on waste and allows me to work with customers,” she says. Having worked for eight years to save money in various Dublin shops she is no stranger to retail, so being in attendance on the second floor in Brown Thomas will be an opportunity to meet new customers and develop her business. “Wherever I am, I try to learn as much as I can; there is always something to be learned, so I make the most of it.” caoimhemurphy.ie

Create runs from July 5th to August 15th on Level 2 at Brown Thomas

Other designers taking part include Kindred of Ireland, Urban Aran, Ireland’s Eye, Gabriel Malone, Sorcha O’Raghallaigh, Katie Ann McGuigan, Sara O Neill and Designer to Watch bursary winner Rebecca McCabe

Accessory designers include bags from Peelo and Landa, scarves from Clare O Connor, Caroline Duffy, Niamh Gillespie; shoes from Nicki Hoyne and Barbara Bennett, hats from Rachel Maguire and jewellery from Angela Scanlon’s frkl, Melissa Curry, Fior So, Blaithin Ennis and Gabsluk

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

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