Irish fashion designer Don O'Neill has found huge success in the U.S. and near rock star status back home, and for St. Patrick's Day, he showed NY1 the many ways his Irish culture continue to influence his designs, and offered some style ideas beyond the Shamrock. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
Designer Don O'Neill knows how to dress women for special occasions, especially big red carpet events.
"Oprah Winfrey probably was probably the highlight, dressing her for the Oscars for 2012 when she won her honorary award," he says. "And Oprah's been a fan, and a vocal fan, of THEIA."
Now, with St. Patrick's Day approaching, this Irish fashion designer offers all of us a way to go Irish without going head-to-toe emerald green.
"There's not a lot of shamrocks and a lot of four-leaf clovers. Something as beautiful as the Irish fisherman sweater, which, as kids, we grew up wearing, it's a part of our heritage, our culture. For us, it's almost nothing special, At home, it's like a second skin, but here, taking that second skin and rendering it in glass porcelain beads," O'Neill says.
"Where I grew up in Irleand, I grew up in Ballyheigue. It's a coastal town or village, and these herons live on the rocks where I live.
"Something like this, where it's an emblem embroidered from the Book of Kells. For me, it's sort of a little bit older, a little bit richer, and that's how I express my Irishness, but by all means, if you're wearing your head-to-toe green outfit and your traditional Irish hand-knit sweater that maybe came from your mom or from the duty free at Shannon Airport, by all means, express your Irishness that way."
Or try something different this year. I'm inspired to.
"What you're actually wearing is an Irish sunset," O'Neill says.
The label THEIA is named for a Greek goddess, but this gown is inspired by Irish goddesses.
"The goddess is actually emerging up out of the shoreline," O'Neill says.
O'Neill has one more way people can celebrate St. Patrick's Day in true Irish style, and it has nothing to do with clothing.
"It is a family recipe that has been passed down through generations, and it's our traditional Irish soda bread," he says.
Before studying fashion, O'Neill trained as a chef, so even in the kitchen, he adds his special touch.
"I soak the golden raisins overnight just to make them a little bit more plump and moist," he says.
DON O'NEILL'S IRISH SODA BREAD RECIPEIngredients:
I box golden raisins, added to 3 cups of hot apple juice and allowed to soak overnight.
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
Pinch of salt.
1/4 cup of cold butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups of butter milk Procedure:
Set your oven to 375 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with buttered aluminum foil.
With your fingers, lightly blend together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Cut the butter in little pieces and, with your fingers, rub into the flour.
Drain your golden raisins well, and combine well in to the flour.
Make a well in the center and add butter milk and egg.
Bring together quickly in to a dough.
Turn out on to a clean, floured work top and knead lightly, forming a ball shape. Don't overwork it (tempted as you may be).
Plop the dough on the baking sheet, and flatten into a disc about 2 inches in height.
Cut a cross into the round, and bake for 55 minutes.
Allow to cool for about an hour on a wire rack before cutting it.
Enjoy warm. Spread with butter.