Orla Kiely Facts

Orla Kiely is an Irish fashion designer, best known for her iconic Stem design.

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Facts About Orla Kiely

  • Orla Kiely was born in Ireland in 1963.
  • As a child, she enjoyed knitting, crocheting, and dressmaking.
  • In the 1970s, she made herself a pair of pink corduroy jeans, and she made her sister’s Confirmation outfit.
  • Orla Kiely trained as a textile designer at Dublin’s National College of Art and Design.
  • She went on to work as a textile and print designer in New York and then London (working for Esprit).
  • She also studied for a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London. She focused on knitwear.
  • In the 1990’s she began experimenting with using laminated fabrics to make handbags.
  • In 1997, Orla Kiely founded The Orla Kiely Partnership with her husband, Dermott Rowan.
  • Orla Kiely’s designs have appeared on ready-to-wear fashion garments, kitchenware, wallpaper, furniture, water bottles, handbags, and hats, to name just a few examples.
  • Her designs are inspired by a mid-century modern aesthetic. She is known for her iconic stem pattern (designed in 2000).
  • She describes her style as ‘strong, often minimal, and balanced’.

I like organised order. And clean lines are quite important. I do like small, and also huge – you can vary the gaps on different products and I love funny everyday things and how you can stylise motifs or elements – an animal, a car, a flower – swap it around and make them into a pattern. And I like a clash of prints, a contrast, to create a spark.

Orla Kiely
  • Orla Kiely and Dermott Rowan have two sons, Robert and Hamish.
  • Orla Kiely appeared on an 82c Irish postage stamp.
  • Orla Kiely’s celebrity fans include Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson, Kiera Knightly, Alexa Chung, Pippa Middleton, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
  • She has produced several books, including Pattern (2010), Home (2013), Numbers (2012), and Colours (2011).
  • She loves the fashion and design of the 1960s.
  • Stem is her most popular design. It is based on a rowan leaf.
  • Orla Kiely was made a visiting professor at the Royal College of Art.
  • She loves dogs, and she has had a pet labradoodle called Olive, and a westiepoo named Ivy.
  • Orla Kiely was a judge on BBC2’s 2016 TV show The Great Interior Design Challenge.
  • In 2018, the Orla Kiely standalone shops and her wholesale fashion business closed.
  • She was taught to knit by her grandmother.

I love that feeling of euphoria you get when you’re working on a design and you hit that moment when it’s there, you’ve cracked it. It makes you smile. It’s worth pushing to get to that point, to get that smiley feeling. Some designs you get that feeling quickly, others take longer. It’s not a formula, it literally is instinctual. You need to know when to stop too, when it’s just right.

Orla Kiely
  • Orla Kiely is inspired by nature, and she enjoys going on long walks.
  • She is sometimes called the ‘Queen of Prints’.
  • In 2011, Orla Kiely was awarded an OBE for services to business and the fashion industry.
  • Orla Kiely has designed furniture for Barker and Stonehouse. She has also worked with dozens of other companies, including John Lewis, Uniqlo, and Target.
  • She is a fan of classic Hollywood movies, and she loves the film The Birds.
  • Orla Kiely loves listening to music, and she is a fan of Van Morrison, Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, the B-52’s, and Sufjan Stevens.