Fortrove News

In an interview with Trend Spotter, Thurley designer Helen O'Connor talks of her brand, her career and more.


When asked about the first piece she ever designed, O'Connor said, "I designed many horrifying pieces throughout school, my signature piece entailed half a meter of lycra from Lincraft and a single seam run up freehand on the Janome and a strap worn as a halter neck, it quickly grew into a little business and soon I was decking all my school friends out in similar sausage casing inspired dresses for school formals, parties and the races. Their mothers would plead them not to leave the house so scantily clad but in defiance, they would skip out of the house with the sausage casings hidden under coats and knits, which were quickly discarded on arrival. The jackets also came in handy when the single seam inevitably gave up and split on the dance floor as they could tie them around their waists to preserve modesty. My friends actually remade a replica for my hens day last year and insisted I wear it for an entire day, it was mortifying and not something you can get away with after your 20’s are long gone! But I put it all down to experience this amusing stepping stone on the path to where I am today!"


"Every morning I take my dog for a walk and then jog around the gardens surrounding my house to clear my mind for the day ahead," said O'Connor about her typical day. "I get to work around 9 am and have hourly fit sessions on a fit model where we perfect outfits. Each day is very different but can consist of meetings with fabric suppliers and my fabric development team as we design most of our fabrics in-house. I spend afternoons working on new designs starting with sketches and then re-creating them on a mannequin, sculpting the lace or applique around the body is the best way to evolve my new ideas. Then I work with my pattern maker and sample machinist to turn my crazy ideas into actual commercial garments. My day is not always about looking forward and much of it is peppered with challenges from the current production in work, my job is as much about problem-solving as it is about the design. I will often take my notepad home and sketch late into the night; you never know when the next big idea is going to happen!"


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When asked where she sees fashion going in the next 5 years, O'Connor said, "It’s an extremely tumultuous time within the fashion industry, we have tragically seen so many talented designers fall victim to the huge financial and personal pressures of producing four new collections a year and turning a profit with such high costs and increased competition. I do think there is a seismic shift going on within the industry and that the next five years will see big change to the retail landscape, my only hope is that the smaller designers are provided with the support they need to flourish in such a challenging environment."

Information originally sourced from Trend Spotter.