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Orla Kiely

November 28, 2014

Prints are popular and always have been.There’s a fine history in British fashion that goes back a long way, with an impressive line-up of textile and print designers. We have Mary White, Laura Ashley, Celia Birtwell, Cath Kidston and of course Orla Kiely. Her well known prints can be found everywhere from iPhone cases to tablecloths. You can see them in John Lewis and on Kate Middleton, who’s made no secret of her love of the Kiely brand.

Orla Kiely

Everything from clothes to duvet covers

The Sprig and leaf motif

Her famous sprig and leaf motif is available in a variety of colours and can be used within a contemporary setting, or a shabby chic/vintage look that is still popular for interiors. Orla Kiely herself isn’t as well-known as her brand and prefers to keep a low profile. Like Cath Kidston, she has collaborated with other brands, the latest being Uniqlo. She’s a great believer in her prints and believes they add glamour and personality to an outfit.


The patterns are simple and they’re inspired by a simple upbringing in Ireland fed on a diet of old Hollywood movies,drawing most of her inspiration from sixties and seventies fashion.

Everything – from clothes to duvet covers

Kiely designs clothes as well as prints for household goods and gadgets. Simple lines and accessories are what Kiely does best and it’s what her fans love. Pencil skirts, dresses with collars, belts and handbags are simple yet classic, beyond the dictates of fashion, but still very contemporary.

Orla Kiely – Humble beginnings

Kiely started out from humble beginnings –as a print designer working for Espirit, she then went on to study for an MA at the Royal College of Art, she went on to create her own label due to the enthusiastic encouragement of her husband.

Orla Kiely – Overseas success

Her business was promoted overseas as well as in the UK, when Kiely went to work at Club Monaco in Canada. Both Kiely and her husband moved back to the UK a year later when she fell pregnant with their first child and started producing canvas bags and hats. Her first prints were egg shapes and flowers and the bags were a great success, laminated bags followed with the now famous stem print.

The stem and beyond

The stem is now very much a part of the Kiely brand and she is still designing new prints and colour combinations all the time, so the future is bright. Her clothes definitely have a sixties vibe going on with clear lines and a sharp silhouette. Collars are Peter Pan with suits cut into a definite sixties look. As well as the stem print we have black cats, shoes, dogs and flowers. Dresses are classics with long sleeves cleverly placed darts and buttons. Dresses come in plain colours as well as with Kiely’s famous prints, with bright colours that stand out with being garish.

Orla Kiely – Branching out

Bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes with her signature prints. Her range is enormous from accessories to fragrances, stationary to interiors including wallpaper and bedding. And it doesn’t stop there, while Kiely continues to design her distinctive prints, they’ve already branched out into Japan. This is a worldwide brand that started as simply as Kidston’s bags. Again, it’s an example of hard work, clever marketing, hitting on something that captures the imagination and lots of self-belief. Kiely doesn’t take a prominent role in publicising her brand – it speaks for her as a brand that’s synonymous with class, elegance and sophistication, with just a little hint of fun.

Fancy some vintage print savvy?

If you fancy some vintage Orla Kiely,then keep an eye out for her distinctive stem designs and unique prints. Take a look at her website to get a good idea of her brand, that’s if you’re not already obsessed, and then look online and in the high street. If you’re handy with a sewing machine then look for old fabrics or vintage garments that can be cut and sewn into a wallet, bag, skirt, dress etc. Something with a similar print or unique pattern that’s rare and unusual. Who knows – you may even have your own fashion empire one day.



Orla Kiely patterns
OK dress
Orla Kiely range

Orla Kiely Bus
Acorn Spot. Orla Kiely