There are some people that are born creative and have that drive to succeed, and Irish Designer Caterina Coyne is one such designer. She has had the most interesting career path to date, she was a Principal Dancer in Riverdance for over 10 years, and now creates some of the most beautiful couture pieces as a top Irish Designer.
I genuinely gasped when I saw some of her pieces coming down the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards Catwalk last month. Caterina has an amazing understanding of the form of the body, and her pieces flow with the person when they walk. She also uses Carrickmacross lace. This lace has a long history in Ireland as it originated in the 1820’s. The lace uses a type of needlework called ‘applique’, and the detailed process results in beautiful patterns and a high-quality finish. The use of the Carrickmacross lace makes her pieces stand out from the crowd, and they really are just beautiful.
We are delighted to be featuring Caterina on Floralesque today, and hopefully, you will love this interview as much as we do!
Have you always had an interest in fashion and design? do you remember when you first decided to move onto it as a career?
Yes Always, for as long as I remember I had an interest in Design and Fashion. My mum is very creative and she actually had the ambition to design long ago… I think all the beautiful things she made rubbed off on me.
I had planned to study Art and Design after my Leaving Cert, however, I got a call to say I had a place in a show called Riverdance that same year so I decided to do that for a year or so and go back to college! Ten years later I was the Principle dancer having toured all over the globe. I knew that at some point I wanted to follow my dream to become a designer and it was a now or never moment. I studied at the Grafton Academy of Fashion for 3 years while also getting my name out there. I was selling and making bespoke pieces while in college, I knew I was on the right path.
I am aware of the different career you had as part of Riverdance before you moved into the design world, did your travels and the previous career inspire your collections?
Yes absolutely! I have been very lucky that I got to travel so much with Riverdance. It’s inspiring to see how women dress in Asia, in Australia, Europe and America etc….. how their culture and history play a part in how they dress!
I think women in Ireland are the most glamorous when it comes to dressing for special occasions, They also want special pieces, a dress or an outfit that no one else will have .. I definitely think of “the woman” when designing whilst still staying true to my own design ethos.
I love the feminine elegance that so many of your designs have. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Some designers will say that their designs aren’t an extension of themselves, and some will say they are. I definitely see my collections as an extension of myself. As a former dancer, I will always think about how the dress will not only look on a woman but more importantly move and feel while she is wearing it. As a dancer, while performing in front of thousands you have to be confident, and while on stage you don’t
Think about what your wearing.. you are at the moment. I think women are most beautiful when they are comfortable and confident in what they wear.
Your use of Lace is just beautiful, what drew you to use it?
I am drawn to delegate feminine fabrics, and lace I think is all of that and more. It’s timeless.. it transcends trends and time. My Husband is from Carrickmacross and anytime we would visit there I would see the sign as you enter the town” home of Carrickmacross lace”. And I just thought wouldn’t it be fabulous to not only learn and see how it is made but to incorporate it into my designs, in a fresh and innovative way.
I took classes with the ladies from the Carrickmacross Lace gallery and slowly learned how to do it! It still isn’t perfect, these ladies have been doing it for years!!! But it is really an art form. I am really excited to see what I can do it … and where it will evolve I have so many ideas !!!!!!!!!!!!
What did you find the greatest challenge when you moved into fashion design.?
It was really important for me to study my craft… I didn’t want to just come from Riverdance and use that to try and get into Fashion. I trained really really hard to get to the top of my field as a dancer and I was under no illusions that the fashion industry wouldn’t be as hard. It was the best decision I made. What is difficult no matter how talented you are is starting off. When its just you not only are you, designer, the seamstress you have to promote and advertise… its a lot!It can also be quiet isolating as you work long hours in the studio by yourself so I find it really helps to connect and get to know other people in the industry because more than likely they are having the same issues and feeling the same as you!!!!
Your Pieces have been worn by many celebrities on the red carpet, is there someone you would love to dress?
There is a list !!!!!!! I would love to dress Megan Markle, not only is she smart and beautiful she has international appeal.
Since you are now designing has your relationship with clothes and design in general changed?
Yes! It has made me think about fast fashion… how clothes are made. I have definitely streamlined my daytime wardrobe to capsule pieces that are well made and will last. Its quality not quantity now for me.
I design, pattern draft and sew all my own pieces plus I incorporate the lace which is weeks/months of needlework. I know that some people won’t realise the number of hours that goes into one piece of mine and some will.
I certainly appreciate other designers work more now that I am doing it myself and I have such admiration for those that follow their dreams and continue to do their own thing regardless of how hard it is.
Would you have any tips for those hoping to start a career in Design? Something that someone had said to you when you were starting out?
I would say know what you want right from the start. Even while I was studying I was making small steps to get where I am today, you cant be afraid to put yourself and your ideas out there. Get some form of training, it was the best decision I made to go to college. It gave me confidence and knowledge that I just wouldn’t have had… Fashion College is hard!!! The amount of hours and work you have to put in is incredible that I couldn’t see anyone sticking through it if it wasn’t their passion…. so if its what you want work hard, stay focused and don’t give up. It won’t come easy but nothing worth doing does!
Surround yourself with like-minded people and people who inspire you.
I was also told a lot of negative things too about the industry and how hard it is …. and honestly, I just didn’t listen to any of it. You cant let someone else’s fears or negative experiences or thoughts hold you back.
So know what you want, set long-term and short-term goals, connect with people who are working in the industry you will be surprised at how nice and helpful they are and don’t give up!!!!!!!
Where would you like to see the brand going in the next five years?
I feel I have really found my style as a designer and I am excited about seeing it develop and where it will go. I am actually based in Ireland and Los Angeles so I want to focus on building a really strong online presence so I can reach more people with my designs.
Right now I do mainly bespoke couture pieces so I want to start devolving and building collections alongside that. I have lots of ideas and aspirations for my brand… so we will see what happens in 5 years! I’m excited!!!!!!!!!
And lastly Barrys or Lyons tea…. and favourite dipping biscuit.
Barrys 100%. When I used to tour the first thing I would pack was my tea bags. And god forbid if I ran out .. tea in other countries is just not the same. And then anything Cadbury to go with it … I’m more of a chocoholic then a biscuit kinda gal… though I won’t turn my nose up at a biscuit either!!!!!!
A massive thank you to Caterina for doing the interview, she has certainly had such an interesting career to date and I cannot wait to see her future collections. I would highly recommend checking out more of her work on her website, and you can also follow along with her journey on Facebook, Twitter and my personal favourite her Instagram as I love seeing more of behind the scenes.
All images kindly provided for use.
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!