On 17th September 2018 Orla Kiely announced that her fashion company had ceased trading and would be closing all of its stores. The demise of such an established name has given rise to a lot of speculation.
Amongst the reasons given has been the current challenging retail landscape or the accusation that the brand did not reinvent itself with the changing times. Whatever the reason, Orla Kiely is and will always be a very talented designer who created a much loved brand. She has quite the following and is adored by her fanbase of which I am one!
Orla Kiely is most famous for her now iconic ‘Stem’ design which has graced everything from handbags, duvets, wallpaper to umbrellas and saucepans. The success of this design has led her critics to accuse her of being too ubiquitous but what’s a girl to do?
Yes, the ‘Stem’ design could always be found in her new collections but it was reinvented each time, and formed part of a whole catalogue of different and equally wonderful designs. The one trick pony accusation is wholly unfair.
Orla Kiely embraced pattern and colour with a passion that is quite unique. Her fashion collection was priced at the higher end of the scale and therefore was not for everyone but by designing mugs, notebooks and tea towels she made her designs accessible to all.
Everyone could own a little piece of Orla Kiely and brighten up their home with her lovely designs. The products were always so beautifully packaged that they made the simple act of buying a kettle turn into a treat. Orla made everyday items into things to be treasured and that’s quite a feat in our modern disposable age.
The journalists who are so keen to criticise Orla Kiely need to remember that it isn’t easy to build a brand and instead of picking at the bones of her business without access to all the facts, they should be congratulating her on all that she has achieved in her career.
I was lucky enough to meet Orla at one of her fashion shows and again at her exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. She was charming, humble and so approachable.
Orla Kiely will be back when the time is right and when she does I for one will be in the queue because quite frankly you can never have enough Orla Kiely in your life!
Words and photos by Tanya Taylor © 2018