Sarah O’ Rourke, a hat designer in London

At 30 years old, Ashbourne hat-designer Sarah O’ Rourke has already been to London twice to show her work. She will return in March for a third exhibition at Hat Week.

O’Rourke spent a year at The Liberties College preparing a portfolio before being accepted to study sculpture at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. By chance, she stumbled on millinery, after her mother asked her for a wedding hat. After that, encouraged by her family, she started making hats full time with her newly founded atelier, Saraden Designs.  

She did not study millinery at school, but her academic background definitely had an influence on her work. “My hats are very sculptural” she said, “and came from a simple idea”. In fact, there are no sketches beforehand so “every piece is unique”. Her moto is clear : “I want my designs to be different”.

Last January, she was delighted to be approached by Fashion Week, “I take that as a compliment. It means that someone there saw my work”. She traveled to London last month to show “Flourish”, a piece that she says changed considerably from her original design. The two days spent in London worked well for the Irish designer, as she said that she “enjoyed every minute of it”. “It is nice to see models wearing your hat, and when people start taking pictures, you know it is a good sign”.

Sarah O’Rourke

Fashion Week is also a good time to meet other designers from all over the world, and a place where there is a real sense of community, with supportive people encouraging each other.

When one event comes to its end, another is taking its place in Sarah O’ Rourke’s schedule. From March 22nd to the 28th, she will be back at Hat Week. Among the 300 hats, coming from 130 milliners from all over the world, she will be presenting a piece called “Evolution”, inspired by the textile industry in Ireland during the industrial revolution.

Despite her UK success she says she remains proud to be an Irish designer.

O’Rourke has been busy since the start of the new year, she is also planning to go back to markets. You can see her every first Saturday of the month, at The George Bar on Georges Street. According to her, it is a great way to speak to people directly and meet other local artists, creatives or designers.

For the future, Sarah has big goals and already there are pretty good chances that you will see her, in the Winter of 2019, back at the Fashion Week.

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