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Orla Kiely: A life in pattern

I started writing this a some time ago, before we learned Orla Kiely was closing down it´s shops and going into administration. I have decided not to edit the post, but it does show you how perceptions can be deceiving. Also that popularity does not equal to actual sales and business sustainability.

Also, the way people consume things has changed so much in the last decade, that what worked in the past it’s not longer valid for the current market. That it’s something that has happened in the past and that would happen again in the future. The key is to know when it’s time to end something and try out something different. I am sure they will figure out a way to keep sharing Orla’s patterns with the rest of the world, of that I am sure!


A life in pattern


I got a couple of confessions to make:

  • This month long heatwave it’s melting my brain and writing it’s not coming as easy as before
  • I did not know the name Orla Kiely until I got the newsletter from The Fashion and Textile Museum about their upcoming exhibit


orla kiely exhibit london


I might had not known the name, but I did definitely new some of her patterns. So, on a ‘my brain is melting I have to get out of the house´Saturday, I made my way down from Camden to London Bridge, to finally take a look at exhibit ‘Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern’, that has been on my ‘to go’ list for a couple of months now



The exhibit it’s called ‘A life in pattern’, but for Kiely Life is Pattern, and I quite identify with that.

‘I sometimes think that my brain works in repeat. I love the order and regiment of repetition, and how anything and everything can be patterned in this way, as you are looking at the world through a prism or kaleidoscope. It is something that is very beautiful and inspiring to me’


orla kiely exhibit london

Simplify & Rearrange


Heavily influenced by the 60’s fashion and vibrant colours, I must confess that I am not that a big fan of her clothes, but I do love the simplicity of her Patterns.


In case you had not noticed from my Instagram feed, tiles are a weakness of mine. And I just love how from one simple motif, when put together, you get completely different pattern depending on how you chose to combine them. On this video the pattern ‘Dancing girl’ gets featured. I discovered it at the exhibition and it’s know one of my favourite ones!


Another bit that draw my attention where hers pursers. She does not limit herself to the pattern designe here, indorporationg the design motif into the shape of the bag itself!


orla kiely exhibit london


Curiouser and curiouser


Another bit that interests me it’s her play with scale on the motifs. And here comes the most original part of the exhibit, where Kiely gets to play with size and scale creating from 10m high dresses to doll sized ones. King of reminds me to this installation for London fashion Week some years ago



orla kiely exhibit london

Being surrounded by pattern it’s my job… and it’s great!




Another bit I liked where the videos at the beginning. Mostly the ones about the business. Because usually that bit gets ignored, but in the end Orla Kiely its  brand and the ultimate goal it’s to sell stuff. And here it’s when her husband comes in as the sales oriented half of this partnership. Because it’s not only about being creative, but being creative in be right direction.


orla kiely exhibit london

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