After 15 years of showing at London Fashion Week, the Irish designer’s staying power is beyond dispute.
While much of London rose on Sunday morning from a leisurely slumber to breakfasts and encyclopaedic broadsheets, Irish designer Paul Costelloe was conducting a backstage orchestra of frenzied models, meddling make-up artists and ever-diligent dressers.
After 15 years supporting London Fashion Week and five seasons opening the week-long parade of catwalks, Costelloe is more relaxed about the drama which comes with any show. “I may have done a few catwalks but it doesn’t necessarily get any easier,” he says.
When quizzed about his favourite piece from his show, Costelloe wrestles with his memory. “I loved the hooded yellow dress but I’m not sure what it looked like on the runway; I have to admit I was having a drink at the time.”
In an age when designers rarely lower their corporate guard, Costelloe’s laid-back charm and honest approach is refreshing. “Having been in this business for at least 30 years I can’t afford not to be honest. As a designer you have to be true to yourself and your target customer and always remember how you started off. Lots of designers are under constant pressure to seasonally reinvent themselves on the catwalk, but the catwalk is just PR and it won’t make you rich.”
The label’s womenswear offer is divided into two collections, both of which are made in Portugal by supplier Calvelex. Costelloe and his London team design both collections, although they are now produced under licence by Signature Brands, the brand house also responsible for the Four Seasons and Dannimac labels, among others.
The mainline, Paul Costelloe Dressage, sits alongside brands such as MaxMara Weekend. “It is day-to-day clothing which is well cut, with thoughtfully chosen fabrics and an active lifestyle handwriting,” Costelloe says.
The second range, named the Paul Costelloe Collection, comprises the 44-piece catwalk range alongside elements of occasionwear and tailoring. The handwriting, according to Costelloe, is: “Aware. It touches on elements of what’s happening in the fashion market but retains its integrity.”
Dressage and elements of the second collection are sold mainly in the UK and Republic of Ireland via six standalone stores and about 30 independent stockists, although the brand’s main retail channel is its 50 concessions, which include all the major John Lewis and House of Fraser department stores in the UK.
“The focus going forward is all about getting more space on the shop floors and maintaining that presence with a proper standard of retail expertise.
“We are also thinking about our pricing, as it has to stay at a level that is approachable for customers. It’s all about being true to yourself, maintaining your design personality and remaining realistic.”
Paul Costelloe 020 7725 0700
5: Number of seasons Paul Costelloe has opened London Fashion Week
50: Number of concessions the brand has in UK and RoI
30: Number of independent accounts in UK and RoI
44: Number of pieces in the catwalk collection
£30 to £130: Typical wholesale prices across Costelloe’s womenswear