Orla Kiely exhibition opens at the Fashion & Textile Museum

As one of the UK and Ireland’s most successful designers, Orla Kiely needs no introduction.Her stylised, colourful, graphic patterns are instantly recognisable, whether printed onto mugs, cushions or dresses.

Over the past 23 years Orla Kiely has built an eponymous label across fashion, homeware and accessories, all rooted in her signature style.

The Irish designer’s retro-inspired prints and patterns have reached iconic status, making her more than deserving of her first new solo exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

The retrospective, entitled Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern, will be the first exhibition dedicated to the Irish designer in the UK, celebrating her 20-year career andcharting her three-decade design trajectory.

As an evangelist for print, you can expect plenty of funky, retro pattern.Cue lots of hand-drawn blooms, abstract animal designs, playful plant shapes and geometric forms.

With unique access to the brand’s archives, the exhibition also offers a privileged insight into the Kiely’s world– how she works, what has inspired her, and why her patterns and designs have resonated around the world.

The exhibition explores the power of decoration to transform the way we feel, andlooks into themes of colour, geometry and the playful use of size in her work, with installations featuring larger-than-life printed dresses and coatswhich have been suspended from the ceiling.

Delving into a twenty year back-catalogue of the designer's, including sketches, mood boards and making techniques, the exhibitionfeatures over 150 patterns and products.

Pieces on display will range from her first collection of hats to the iconic Orla Kiely bag, to recent film collaborations with Mercedes Hellwein and Gia Coppola.

Also on show are Kiely’s signature floral prints, Sixties silhouettes and girly dresses, as well as mood boards, samples, sketches, patterns and prototypes –including the original paper sketches for her signature ‘Stem’ graphic, created in the 1990s, which has evolved to feature on everything from mugs and dresses to notebooks and even cars.

There are also pieces from her homeware range, alongsideKiely’s family photos.

Meanwhile, giant oversized mannequins wearing bespoke dresses will be displayed beside their miniature counterparts and there will be “an immersive installation” where visitors will “be absorbed in the kaleidoscopic colours and rhythms” of Kiely’s design world.

In a nutshell? A must-see opportunity for any print and pattern lover.

Orla Kiely: A Life In Pattern will take place from May 25 – September 23 2018 at the Fashion & Textile Museum.




Lotte Brouwer

Lotte is the Digital Editor for Livingetc, and has been with the website since its launch. She has a background in online journalism and writing for SEO, with previous editor roles at Good Living, Good Housekeeping, Country & Townhouse, and BBC Good Food among others, as well as her own successful interiors blog. When she's not busy writing or tracking analytics, she's doing up houses, two of which have features in interior design magazines. She's just finished doing up her house in Wimbledon, and is eyeing up Bath for her next project.