FASHION

Tipperary based head designer at Dubarry Toinette Seymour talks about life in rural Ireland, Kate Middleton and Barack Obama

Sinéad Goldsboro

Reporter:

Sinéad Goldsboro

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sinead.goldsboro@tipperarystar.ie

Tipperary based head designer at Dubarry Toinette Seymour talks about life in rural Ireland and the Kate Middleton effect

Toinette Seymour who designed the Bracken jacket for Dubarry which Kate Middleton recently wore

Toinette Seymour who is from Portroe has every reason to be very happy with life at the moment.
The proud mother of two, Killian (24) and Fiona (22) is also the Head Designer at Dubarry Ireland and on the day her son graduated from University of Limerick with a degree in Business Management her hard work at Dubarry was hitting the headlines around the world as Kate Middleton stepped out to work in a Toinette Seymour designed jacket for Dubarry. Her daugher Fiona is studying animation in Limerick School of Art and Design.
“When we got home from the graduation and I turned on my phone the messages just came flooding in. It was amazing to see the response we received from Kate wearing our jacket. It was her first public outing in relaxed clothing as all her other recent appearances have been more formal such as appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony or the coat and hat which she wore to Christmas Day Mass at Sandringham.”
However Toinette is very quick to say that this is a chance in a lifetime. “When I graduated from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 1985 there were no jobs for anyone, let alone a fashion designer. I went to New York immediately after graduation and got my start working as a designer in Manhattan.”
Her parents Martin (RIP) and Kitty Seymour were initially unsure of her choice of career and move to New York but were supportive as they have always been in everything Toinette and her brother have done in life.
While in New York Toinette met her husband Kevin Hackett. He was born in New York to Tipperary parents but after his father passed away when he was four his mother decided to move back to Nenagh with him and his sister in order to be close to family to raise her children.
This is something Toinette and Kevin wanted for their own children. They returned to Portroe and built a house on her parents farm where the children had a wonderful childhood spending lots of quality time with their grandparents and other family. Toinette is especially grateful for this time as her father has since passed away. “It was something Kevin and myself felt very strongly about as we both come from small families, we both have only one sibling each and wanted a strong family bond for our own children. My father passed away a number of years ago but my mother is in great health and at 84 she still does a little bit of farming. My brother has his own business in Dublin and comes down at weekends to help her on the farm.”
During the early years Toinette commuted to New York for work but then the opportunity at Dubarry came up. “Timing is everything because Dubarry had decided to expand their business by offering clothing, in addition to footwear as part of their “total lifestyle” approach. The company had been a footwear business since 1937 and I was fortunate to be hired as their Head Clothing Designer about nine years ago.”
Toinette currently has a lot of projects on the go at Dubarry. She is currently working on a new range of clothing for men that will be ready for sale in autumn / winter this year.
The Bracken jacket which Kate Middleton wore would have been one of the most popular jackets in their range of ladies jackets. As a result of her wearing it they have completely sold out and are currently working on back orders. “We don't have a quick turnaround on our clothes. The tweed has to be made and Brian and his team at John Hanly & Company are busy making more tweed for the Bracken jacket. We hope to have it ready for sale again in the coming months,” according to Toinette.
It is not the first time Toinette has dressed such a well known figure. When in New York she worked for HartMarx, an American manufacturer of tailored menswear. Former American President Barack Obama wore the brand extensively during his campaign and for his 2009 presidential inaugural address, “but nobody really pays attention to the men! We didn't have the same reaction in the press like this time around with Kate,” according to Toinette.
Travel is a big part of Toinette's working life as she goes to visit mills where the tweed Dubarry uses in their clothing is made and she also attends a number of trade shows during the year sourcing new suppliers. She will travel to Parish later this month to attend the Première Vision show.
“Kate would have been very familiar with the Dubarry brand from the Badminton Horse Trials as Dubarry have exhibited there for years. Her lifestyle is very country and outdoors so the Dubarry brand certainly suits her lifestyle. She is not the only Royal to wear Dubarry, apparently the Queen and Princess Anne are fans of our boots!”