Courtney Smith, one of Ireland’s leading figures in the global fashion industry, chats with Deputy Fashion Editor Jacqueline Murphy about achieving her dream career and Ireland’s presence in the world of fashion.
With clients like Louis Vuitton and Tommy Hilfiger and brand collaborations with DKNY and H&M, Courtney’s role as a stylist, creative director, presenter and designer makes her one of Ireland’s most successful figures in the global fashion industry to date. Having achieved so many remarkable goals at such a young age, it’s clear that she has an immense passion and adoration for what she does, which got me thinking about whether a career in the world of fashion was always on the cards for Courtney, even from an early age.
“There’s photos of me aged seven, modelling an array of tights in my first ever self-designed, self-modelled, self-produced fashion show! Don’t ask! I was always obsessed with clothes and constantly dressing up in my mom’s outfits. It was always going to be a career in fashion but originally I thought designer so I studied fashion design in Sallynoggin and then did a postgrad in London College of Fashion in Fashion Media. Styling kind of just evolved for me; after my postgrad I got a job in a top boutique in London and began dressing their celebrities – from there it grew!”
Because Ireland is such a small place in comparison to the fashion capitals of Paris, Milan and New York, I’ve always wondered how much of an impact the Irish fashion industry is having on designers and buyers worldwide. Courtney believes that Ireland has plenty to offer the world of fashion globally and was incredibly proud to list off some of the achievements of fellow Irish women in the fashion world, who are making names for themselves both here and abroad.
“Irish craft and techniques have lent themselves to iconic moments in fashion history most recently notably our Carrickmacross Lace used in Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress. I get more and more international clients looking to shoot in iconic Irish locations such as the Cliffs of Moher where I recently shot for Elle Magazine.”
“As for designers, just as a small example, look at what Simone Rocha has achieved in such a short space of time but also look at her design inspirations – she makes old Irish tweed usually seen in mens jackets relevant and cool. We also have Una Burke, whose pieces were used on set in the Hunger Games, in a Taylor Swift video and donned by Rihanna on the red carpet. Ireland is really making waves in the world of fashion right now.”
In the run up to the festive party season, the highstreet is filled with sequins, velvet and all things glamorous, every bit of which receives Courtney’s seal of approval. She believes the return of these trends adds a dash of fun to party season, particularly velvet as even on the highstreet, it can look very luxe and unlike most other seasonal trends, it’s also super warm for Christmas and AW as a whole. Of course, with Christmas comes the January sales and whilst chatting to Courtney, I had to ask her for some personal tips on nabbing a killer bargain.
“I actually hate sales! If I love something I will save for it and buy it and if it goes into sale I will go in with a mission to get that exact item – like a military operation! I find if I shop in sales, I end up spending as much money anyway and usually don’t end up wearing half the stuff. So if you are looking for advice, mine would be to know exactly what you want before you go shopping in the sales to ensure you don’t end up buying a load of junk.” Solid advice for a compulsive shopper like myself!
In recent weeks, Courtney announced the launch of her very own shoe collection, in collaboration with Shoe Lab. The range, named CourtneySmithXShoeLab, has been a huge hit with fashion lovers across the country, adding ‘designer’ to her already impressive resume. “Designing my own collection was always on the cards, it’s where I initially saw my career going so it was so exciting to revisit that. The technical side of designing boots was immense which was why it was amazing to have Shoe Lab’s Audrey Murray’s expertise with me the entire time. That’s why it was such a great collaboration; we had a vision, we knew it had to relate to my personal style and we had the ability to build it from the ground up.”
Courtney’s COxLAB shoe collection can be purchased in Arnotts Dublin and online at www.weareshoelab.com