THE BRIGHT STUFF
In vogue with everyone from Little Mix to Billie Eilish, neon is one of the major trends this spring.
“I LOVE NEON – IT’S SO MAN-MADE AND LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS.”
“Tailoring and textiles are the key to rocking neon this season.”
Just like the first brightly coloured blooms peeking out from the grey winter soil, this season, you are going to stand out in a crowd and remind everyone that spring has officially arrived. The catwalks were like a student’s pencil case in September, such were the amount of neon highlighter tones to be found. However, designers found new ways to make these fluorescent rave colours feel fresh, modern and sophisticated.
Tailoring and textiles are the key to rocking neon this season. Courreges were inspired by the ’60s miniskirt and matching jackets with long collars in fluoro pink, lime green and highlighter yellow, all paired with white platform shows and clashing neon purses, for a statement streetwear take on the suit. Comme des Garcons also played with suits, creating oversized tuxedo jackets and capes in bright pink, paired with shorts featuring architectural cut-outs, and dramatic headpieces that looked like neon jellyfish. Valentino went for neon formalwear, featuring Stabilo green maxi gowns with delicate pleating and dainty belts. Roksanda also went for maxi dresses in bright pink ruffles with red accents, while Tom Ford paired beautiful neon skirts with black ruched tops and spiky hairdos for a neon grunge glamour look.
Christopher Kane has long been a supporter of neon, once telling Vogue, “I love neon – it’s so man-made and loud and obnoxious.” He turned out looks in bright yellow, orange and pink lace, with black accents that adhered to his modern mantra of “more joy”, while heavy black boots added some edge to his flowing lace garments. Koche kept the silhouettes classic, sending models down the runway in beautifully tailored trenchcoats in glowing pink, while Moschino featured similar styles, complete with matching purses and costume jewellery.
In pop culture, neon has been having a moment, with Little Mix donning highlighter hues in their concerts during the year, and Billie Eilish rocking a neon green Gucci suit at the Grammys. She also kept her hair neon green for her Oscar performance, too. Anya Taylor-Joy, star of the upcoming adaptation of Emma, has been rocking some neon Bora Asku fit-and-flare dresses on her press tour, while Booksmart director Olivia Wilde spent some of awards season floating around in white lace Valentino, complete with neon yellow sleeves.
When you rock your neon, remember that clashing highlighter hues are always encouraged, snakeskin neon is all the rage right now, and – for the more demure among you – neon purses, shoes and earrings are always an easy way to inject colour into your life. Go glow!
Designer Claire O’Connor’s love of fashion emerged as many creatives’ passion do; with some external education and a personal tragedy (well, by teenage standards). “When I was about nine I saw John Galliano in Hello magazine, and my life’s mission began!” says O’Connor. “And a few years later, one fateful Friday night, my class were going to Wesley disco for the first time, and come hell or high water, my parents weren’t letting me go. Before drowning in a pool of my own tears, my mum asked would I like her to show me how to sew. I stopped the pitiful sobbing and made my first pair of trousers – which, I add, were worn by my classmates to future Wesley discos, so all’s well that’s ends well!” O’Connor started her design education in the Grafton Academy in Dublin, before studying the art of making handbags in Florence and doing some courses in Central St. Martins. “Life is a school, as they say, so I am constantly learning.”
O’Connor’s designs are truly showstopping, as she elevates classic silhouettes with striking, tactile fabrics, or adds incredible, dramatic embellishment to traditional pieces. Perfect tailoring and striking draping are often features in her work, as are dramatic beading and nature-based abstract prints.
“I love draping, making dreamy gowns and embellishment,” she notes. “So I’m a sucker for beautiful flowing silk and Swarovski stones!” For inspiration, she always goes back to her first design love. “It depends on the collection I am working on, generally I love anything that has intricate design or structure. So design-wise, I still tend to go back in the Galliano archives, which never cease to inspire me.”
Claire O’Connor pieces are bold and eye-catching, perfect for daring women who like to stand out in a crowd.
“The Claire O’Connor woman is her own woman, mistress of her own destiny,” says O’Connor. “Highly individualistic and nonconformist. Loves beauty and craftsmanship. Loves clothes which emphasise the feminine form, but which make a strong statement. She sees clothes as a form of self-expression and what she likes to express is joy in life.”
O’Connor is currently working on her next couture collection, and reveals that she has changed her design production order to be more sustainable – for the planet and her own creative process.
“With fashion moving so fast,” she says, “and designers dropping new collections every other month, the most challenging aspect is trying to keep up. That’s why I have always focused on a more bespoke couture collection for individual clients. Essentially I am spending more time on a smaller collection, so as to focus on pieces that are timeless, as opposed to a seasonal trend. I have always been conscious of excessive waste and doing my bit for the old planet – long before it became trendy – so I am therefore more focused on quality. That results in a collection that’s always been both sustainable and ethical, all while continuing to be desirable and wearable.”
“I’M A SUCKER FOR BEAUTIFUL FLOWING SILK AND SWAROVSKI STONES.”
Photographer: Kristin Brynn Costello
Model: Rebecca O’Donovan @Silent Models NYC
Make-up: Jill Mckay
Hair: Eliana Knoblauch
Shot on location in New York
All clothes and accessories made to order by Claire O’Connor • All Claire O’Connor pieces are custom made to order – see claireoconnor.com for more information.