Irish Luck Leads Designer in New York

Without a bit of Irish luck, designer Don O'Neill might have stayed in Paris.
" I won my green card in a lottery and I had 3 months to act on it," the rising star from the Emerald Isle told us 18-years after his arrival.

O'Neill is now the creative director for Theia, a collection of evening-wear shown off by the likes of country music stars Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. Now, what's a nice Irish lad doing naming his collection after a Greek goddess?

"Originally, I did want to call it Don O'Neill, but the O'Neill Sportswear Company owned the name," he explained. 

He couldn't find another Irish name that fit, so he ventured into Greek mythology and met his muse in Theia, the goddess of heavenly light. What woman wouldn't want that said about the evening gown she was wearing?

O'Neill's dresses are much about sparkle and glitter and shine. There is also the ever present reference from the designer's own Irish roots.  Born and raised in the seaside village of Ballyheigue, he became fascinated with the Book of Kells at an early age. Called Ireland's finest treasure, the book is an illuminated manuscript of the 4 gospels. He has meticulously copied some of the elaborate calligraphy as design motifs.

O'Neill's fall collection is filled with evening gowns and cocktail dresses festooned with Celtic knots and Hippogriphs, mythical creatures half griffon, half horse. He has also found inspiration in the swirl-carved stones guarding the New Grange burial mound. (Click here for a sneak peak of his fall collection)

"I used pieces of driftwood to sketch huge ballgowns in the sand," said the designer speaking of his boyhood home. "Ballyheigue was sort of a magical training ground for me, where nothing was impossible."

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