In Dubai to promote his new collection for Debenhams, EW met with the charismatic designer to discuss his clothing line, love of the ladies and how to succeed in the fashion industry.

What is your design philosophy?

I’m a big believer in natural fibers. I’m lucky to be based in Ireland, which is great for sourcing beautiful wools and cotton. This is how I started my career all those years ago. I love beautiful fabrics and create my new collections based around materials.

How long have you been designing for Debenhams and how does it differ from your pret-a-porter line?

Twelve years ago my relationship with Debenhams begun. The mainline takes more time to create as I go more in-depth. With Debenhams, the price point is lower and therefore more accessible but it still has the same spirit that is shown in my catwalk collections.

What does it mean to you to design for ‘real women’?

That’s what I’ve always done, I love women. I don’t think designers dictate what woman wear anymore, they did in the eighties and nineties but now they no longer dominate. I believe woman are very savvy with fashion, they are educated and have more information and are therefore confident in what suits them. We just provide a surface for woman to choose from.

What is your advice for budding designers wanting to break into the industry

Follow your dream but know that it’s an industry that is a very, very serious business so you have to really believe in yourself. But go for it, push yourself and work hard.


Breakfast is….coffee and a cigar

Style is….What you believe in

To me, women are…The greatest creatures in the world

I love to visit…Tokyo

My vice is…Solo holidays – every few months I’ll take myself off for a fishing trip. Anywhere from Tahiti to Russia, I’ll go where the fish are.

I spend on… Art, I love contemporary works. My favourite is the Irish/American artist Sean Scully

I listen to… Bob Marlin, U2 and Bob Dylan

I couldn’t live without… My wife

Fashion is… For us to enjoy!

EW’s Alex and Annah with John Rocha