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Young Irish Designer- Emily Jean O 'Byrne

Thursday, 29 January 2009

This is the third in a series of profile pieces on young, talented Irish designers with fashion journalist Bairbre Power. We want to get a feel for who they are, what they do, what inspires them and what their collections are all about.

Our third profile is of Emily Jean O'Byrne, Milliner & jewellery maker from Galway. An unusual forte, Emily Jean's passion for what she does has already resulted in her starting her own business but who knows where she'll take it from here.

. Bairbre Power- Knows her designers!

Following a dream and pursuing a passion, we look at the work & talents of Galway designer Emily Jean O'Byrne.

Emily Jean O'Byrne is in her early thirties and from Galway. Brought up in a very creative family, her father was an artist, as were her grandmother and sister (her sister studied fine arts at UCG) her creativity was encouraged from an early age. Emily Jean was always fascinated with vivid colour and was always sewing as a child- even if it was as simple as sewing beads on tops.
She saw this as a method of expressing her moods and imagination as a child Emily jean found design to be an outlet and loved the way materials could be manipulated and changed to suit how she was feeling. When Emily Jean decided to go into design as a career, her parents were 100% behind her, encouraging her all the way and always believing in her ability.

Her background:
Emily Jean qualified as a silversmith having studied at the 'University of Central England where she graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Jewellery and Silversmithing and received special commendation for outstanding work from the British Jewellers Association.

From there she pursued studies in millinery and hat making at the London College of Fashion. In 2005 she graduated from the National University of Ireland Galway with a Diploma in Gemology. She is also a member of the Craft Council of Ireland since 2005.
After graduating from college, Emily jean began working in a jeweler's workshop but it was a very different reality to what she had imagined as she spent much of her time doing repairs and there was no creativity involved. Whilst this experience taught her customer service and secretarial work, it didn't excite her very much. So, Emily-Jean began beading at home and eventually started cold-calling shops with a small suitcase of samples and gradually began to get her work acknowledged. Emily Jean went to every craft fair, market and trade show going to sell her wares and gradually built up a customer base, all the while meeting clients in her home and building up a one on one business. People would come to her with a dress and she would make a hat/headpiece or jewellery to match the dress and the occasion.
Emily-Jean has pursued her childhood hobby and developed it into a career in producing jewellery and headpieces that some say are works of art.

What are her influences?
Influenced by the Paris, London and New York haute couture fashion shows she attends, Emily Jean's passion for her art and flair for fashion is reflected in her range of necklaces, earrings, brooches, bracelets and head pieces. She also keeps an eye on the competition - other milliners and jewellery makers to see what they're doing! One of her earliest influences was French Glass designer Rene Lalique, someone she admires greatly and has had some influence on her work in the past. His style was revolutionary in the Art Nouveav period.
The diversity of her jewellery pieces has also been influenced from the designer's deep understanding of various ethnic cultures, having travelled extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand & South East Asia.

The West coast of Ireland the beautiful Connemara landscape also inspires her work, through its colour and sense of peace. Emily Jean often takes a sketch pad out to the treasure that is literally on her doorstep and takes time out to take it all in.
What is it about design that makes her tick?
Emily Jean loves the challenge. There's nothing that excites her more than creating a design that she just knows will sell off the shelves. It's nothing to do with the money, it never was; it's more about the challenge of creating something that someone really wants to wear and is thrilled each time they put it on.

Where she's at now:-
Emily-Jean (under the name Emily Jean Design) opened a studio and show room in Galway city in mid 2007. Her works of art have been on sale at the Design Centre, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and nationwide in up to 20 specialist fashion and bridal boutiques.

Based in Galway city, her new design studio is like a treasure trove - with crystals, beads and jewels twinkling and glittering giving you a sense of excitement and occasion. Alongside her ready to wear collection, she provides a custom-made service for weddings and occasion wear, creating one -off pieces tailored to a client's needs and desires.

She uses combinations of precious gemstones with sea pearls and Swarovski crystals to produce gorgeous jewellery pieces.
. Each unique intricate piece is individually made by her.

Custom-made Jewellery Design Service
Emily-Jean Designs provides a specialist bridal and occasion jewellery design service providing exquisite bespoke hand-crafted one-off pieces. This service is particularly popular with brides in allowing them chose their own design for their special day.

Ready-to-Wear Collections
Jewellery and head pieces displayed at the Galway city show room are designed and hand-made by Emily-Jean who has now built up a range of 8 collections of contemporary designs inspired by traditional, classical and vintage fashions.

Emily Jean Design pieces have been featured in fashion items on RTE's Off the Rails and The Afternoon Show (4/10/2007) as well as in print - VIP magazine, Image, Gloss and Galway NOW. She has been commissioned to make pieces for several well-known media personalities and celebrities who hold her in high regard for her talent.

Well-known personalities and members of the media have become regular clients of Emily-Jean's custom made services.

Outfit 1:
Grey & Silver headpiece designed with Silver plated Crinoline, crushed silver velvet and finished off with a mauve silk flower.
The Choker is made from Swarovski Crystal & fresh water pearls.
The Cuff is made using silver 7 gold links. It features Violet Swarovski crystals, silver & white pearls.
The dress is a Nicole Miller dress from Demora Boutique in Galway.

Outfit 2:
The bridal dress today is from Tracy Bridal in Galway.
The headpiece is a double encrusted band designed using Swarovski Crystals, freshwater pears and diamante. Also incorporated is a white marabou feather to add a contemporary feel.
The necklace incorporates Swarovski Crystals and freshwater pearls.
The earrings are triple drop silver diamante and bracelet is again made with pearl & diamante.

Outfit 3:
This stunning headpiece incorporates spiraled quills in pink & purple with pheasant feathers in purple. The net is pink crinoline.
The cluster necklace is made with a sterling silver chain and features Swarovski crystal and pearls
The dress is a Yoana Baraschi from Demore Boutique in Galway.

Outfit 4:
The black & gold hat is designed using gold painted quills. The leather rose is dipped in gold liquid foil. It is fixed to the head with a sturdy headband to ensure it sits well.
The cluster necklace, bracelet and earrings are made using black onyx, Swarovski crystals and gold diamante.