Watching TV in her New York Living room, Laura Weber was cautiously optimistic that she would spy the US First Lady wearing one of her creations. The Dublin-born designer and fabric artist was commissioned to make embroidered flowers for Jill Biden's inauguration outfit. Each flower was designed to represent a US State or overseas territory. Laura was hoping to see her work on screen, but as she told Ryan Tubridy, experience had taught her that these things can change last-minute. And then it happened:
"So, I was just sitting here, in my living room on the eve of the inauguration and she came out that night in what I had made. And it didn’t really hit me. It was just like; Oh wow, that’s amazing! And I went off to bed. That was really it. And the next day was when my life changed forever."
Laura’s exquisitely detailed embroidery had been seen by millions and the response was intense, she says:
"It was absolutely unbelievable the response; people contacting me.My WhatsApp crashed. I couldn’t actually open it so I had to re-install the app. The people and the messages were so heart-warming, so lovely. I never knew that it would have an impact like that. It was so unexpected."
Laura’s journey to becoming designer to the stars began when she was very small. A childhood interest in all things crafty and an obsession with small objects and tiny details pointed towards her current career in embroidery and hand beading. But Laura could have taken a different path, if it hadn’t been for a serious car accident in her first year at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD). This led to her missing out on a place on the college’s fashion design course and Laura had to take her second choice which was textiles. Laura was upset at first, but then she realised she’d found her calling:
"I was distraught. I was thinking about repeating, I was devastated. And once a couple of weeks passed in my second year and I was doing textiles, it was love at first sight, I loved it. It was perfect. I was so lucky that I fell into that. It was actually exactly where I needed to be and in fourth year I went on to specialise in embroidery."
Laura’s skills landed her a job straight out of college. She headed to New York with one suitcase and cold-called the Garment Center. When they heard she could bead by hand, she was snapped up immediately. After 6 years of hard slog, Laura set up her own couture business providing product development services to big name designers like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Jason Wu. They commission her to develop their ideas and embellish their clothes; from concept to runway.
Laura is modest about the name she’s made for herself in the industry and how she was hand-picked by designer Gabriella Hearst to flesh out her concept for Jill Biden’s inauguration outfit:
*There’s a small circle. And once you are within the circle, this work comes your way. I am extremely lucky to be recognized for embroidery and for surface treatment and people come and get my service and that’s how Jill Biden ended up wearing our embroidery for the inauguration."
A serious work ethic is needed in the specialist sewing business and the hours are long, Laura says; but she also says it’s not a problem if you love what you do. You also have to be flexible, as high-profile clients change their minds at short notice; which is exactly what happened with Jill Biden’s team:
"We had made it originally in navy. A week before the inauguration, she decided and their team decided that it would need to change to ivory. So we actually ended up making her dress, her coat and her mask for the evening of the inauguration in a week. Anyone who knows sewing and anyone who knows embroidering; it was a tall order! "
Laura is up and about at 5 am every day, making the most of the 3 hours she says are so precious to her, before everyone else in the city gets going. While her designs have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Miley Cyrusand Lady Gaga, Laura remains unfazed by the big names, preferring to focus on what she loves; the work itself:"You’re just in the motion. You’re doing what you love and you’re getting to make and you’re getting to do all, you know, the world of being creative. I guess I don’t really feel that pressure, you know? The pressure comes from perfecting the gown; the piece, the stitch."
Laura Weber has developed her own athleisure line and you can hear her thoughts on how red-carpet fashion can be easier to create that everyday gear in the full interview with Ryan Tubridy here.
You can find Laura Weber’s embroidery work in Instagram @lwpearl
Her clothing line can be found here https://www.lwpearl.com/