Fashion designer Pat Crowley died earlier this week. She was 80 years old and internationally renowned for her use of traditional fabrics, such as tweed and wool, in couture. Her creations were in such a demand that at one stage she had to employ 600 knitters.
Born Patricia Vernon in the west of Ireland, she studied fashion design at the Grafton Academy in Dublin and after graduating worked as an air hostess for Aer Lingus. After her marriage to Conor Crowley – he caught her eye at a rugby match - she decided to continue working and in 1960 joined the atelier of Irene Gilbert, one of Dublin’s leading couturiers. Her desire to pursue a career while married was quite revolutionary at the time. In an interview with the Irish Independent in 2004 her daughter Lisa revealed that Pat "was a thoroughly modern woman!" and hid her Pill under the floorboards.
In 1968 Pat launched her first knitwear collection and a shop on Duke Street where she exclusively stocked Valentino and Thierry Mugler. In our archives we found some of the first advertisements for her famed Duke Street shop.
Her talent saw her initially specialising in daywear and then branching out into sumptous eveningwear- her chiffon creations were particularly dreamy. Her work attracted the patronage of the glamorous Miranda Guinness, Countess of Iveagh and indisputably the best dressed woman in Ireland at the time, as well as social diarist Terry Keane and Mary Robinson. The audiences at her ‘salon’ shows on Molesworth Place were a who’s who of Irish society. The same was true in New York where she also garnered accolades and socialite clients, with the Kennedy clan numbering among her conquests.
Here we select some of our favourite Crowley designs, as featured in IMAGE fashion editorial as well as coverage in Miranda’s Diary of one of her fashion shows from 1977.
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun