Orla Kiely A Life in Pattern at The Fashion and Textile Museum

Now that the kids are back at school, I’m making time to see all the exhibitions I’ve been wanting to see for months. One of those was Orla Kiely – A Life in pattern which is now in it’s last week at The Fashion and Textile Museum in London. I’ve always been a huge fan of Orla Kiely’s work and have even been lucky enough to meet her a couple of times. The exhibition is a celebration of her unique designs and career and it’s as every bit as fabulous as her gorgeous patterns.

I snapped a few of my favourite pieces from the exhibition, but if you get the chance to go before it ends I’d definitely recommend a visit. I love to be able to see pieces up close and admire the quality of the fabrics, the designs and the work that goes into making them

The exhibition begins by taking a look at Kiely’s background and her influences, as well as her early career. It was a really interesting part of the exhibition, which included a video, original designs and early pieces designed by Orla Kiely.

The next section is all about pattern and includes a beautiful and extensive collection of her print designs. Alongside all the gorgeous patterns, there are pieces featuring Orla Kiely designs, many of which are collaborations with other brands.

It was fantastic to see such a huge body of work and I felt a whole new appreciation for the genius behind her designs. I really loved these prints which feature human figures, while still looking very organic and retro.

I also really loved these book covers, especially since both of these are books I really love. Might have to see if I can get my hands on one of these!

In the next section we begin to look at her clothing designs. I just loved the way this room was displayed. Hanging from the ceiling there are a selection of her pieces, but on a huge scale. Seeing the garments so large you can really enjoy all the details and I could have looked at them all day!

They also had the pieces in miniature on little dolls. I loved the contrast between seeing them huge and in smaller form.

Moving on it was time for my very favourite bit, all the stunning clothes. As someone who absolutely adores the 60s and 70s, you can see how Orla Kiely has studied and paid homage to these decades. She takes the best bits of retro fashion, layers them and creates something new. I adore the mixture of fabrics and the brave mix of coloured layers on top of each other. I felt completely inspired by her designs and it gave me lots of ideas of how to wear my original vintage pieces differently.

Many of her designs are all about the little details, the complex prints, the buttons and ruffles. I love the oversized and bold features like the pussy bow blouse above and the big details on the handbags.

Moving from the clothes, there was a huge wall covered ion hundreds of Orla Kiely handbags. She must have so much fun designing all these fun bags. A couple of years ago I met Orla at a press event. I was carrying one of my vintage Enid Collins bags and she spotted it and asked me about it. I told her all about Enid Collins and she took a picture of my bag and made some notes. It was a very exciting moment.

The exhibition finished with a selection of Orla Kiely films and a large room featuring photographs of her collections. I loved looking through these and choosing the clothes that I would wear if I was given the chance!

I really enjoyed this exhibition. It was displayed in a fun and engaging way and gave me a whole new appreciation for one of my favourite designers and the eras that influence her.

The exhibition closes on the September 23rd so if you want to see it yourself, I’d recommend booking online. You can find tickets on the museum website.


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