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Mid-century cool meets contemporary Irish design in this Dublin seaside home

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Calling all emerging Irish artists – NYX Hotel Dublin is looking for you

IMAGE

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From high fashion to hi-vis: Group Sustainability Manager at Glenveagh, Ruth Saurin

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What I learned on a phone-free silent retreat in Clare

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Bodkin: The Obama-produced crime series set in West Cork

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From big to small, plant pots to upgrade your favourite leafy housemates

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This beautiful Georgian residence is on the market for €775,000

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Irish Design Spotlight: Lia Cowan

Irish Design Spotlight: Lia Cowan


by
19th Mar 2023

Lia Cowan set up her eponymous brand LIA last year, with the aim of empowering women to feel strong, confident, beautiful. Starting her working career as a secondary school art teacher but quickly pivoting to fashion, Lia has made a name for herself with her feminine silhouettes and statement pieces. Here she tells us more about the inspiration behind her work.

Tell us about you and your brand
I am the founder and maker behind the luxury womenswear brand LIA. We specialise in custom-made, sculptural pieces, for women of every shape and size.

What is your mission?
I started LIA just over a year ago, with the mission to make every woman feel strong, empowered, feminine and beautiful in my clothing.

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer? 
I’ve always had a love for fashion but funnily enough, after studying Sculpture and Education in NCAD, my career journey started  as a secondary school art teacher. I loved my job and my students, but I always felt there was something missing – I wasn’t creating as much as I used to and I missed exploring that aspect of myself. It was only then that I decided to go back to study fashion and as soon as I did, oh my LORD was I HOOKED. There was no stopping me!

What kind of items do you stock?
Our stock ranges from voluminous tulle and cotton skirt sets and sleeves – which are all modular, meaning they can be worn in many different ways (tops as skirts, skirts as collars, mix-and-match sleeve sets) and our signature sculptural floral tops and boleros with exaggerated bow details.

What new brands or items are on your radar?
Not technically new, but I just think Colin Burke’s knits are incredible. I want them in every colour to wear with a giant tulle LIA skirt!! If he brings out new colours for SS23 I think I’m going to have to get one…

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
Of course! Starting my own fashion label was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. But I often say to myself, every brand has to start off somewhere and if you truly love and believe in the work, things will fall into place.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
Tell your truth. Be completely honest and show the world exactly who you are (as corny as that sounds). Growing up I was always cautious about being a little different, having a different way of thinking or a different kind of style and I definitely tried to hide that version of myself for a long time. I found that once I embraced my true self, my work really took off and the response was incredible. Everyone has a unique story to tell, and it’s so important that we tell it.

Favourite fashion/design accounts you follow
Haley Wollens is one of my favourite stylists at the moment I love all of her work – with Chloe Sevigny in particular. Puss puss & Dazed magazines are also some of my go-tos!

Best fashion purchase
My red velvet Mary Janes from vibivenezia.

Other Irish brands you love
I’m particularly obsessed with everything Kindred of Ireland are doing at the moment – so dreamy! Laoise Carey is also another brand I’ve been following for years. Her work is beautiful and so full of love.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
Networking is your best friend. Reach out to people as much as you can, even if it’s just for advice. It’s always great to make those connections. There is such a collaborative creative community in Ireland – everyone is happy to help and work together which I love!

Proudest moment so far
Definitely when found out I’d made my 4th Irish cover last year with Louise McSharry wearing LIA. That was a super special moment for me as I love and respect Louise so much, so it was such a huge achievement both for me personally and for the brand.

I want my brand to be remembered for… inclusivity. I want to be able to dress all women of all shapes and sizes.

If I could have anyone wear my designs it would be… Florence Pugh! Her red carpet game has been so strong recently, I would absolutely love to work with her.