A lady with a vibrant energy and full of jokes, Marion Murphy Cooney is fast becoming a household name. Her designs are all over red carpet events and style awards up and down the country. Marion is a great inspiration as a mother, a wife and an entrepreneur–with three children, a demanding job and a husband who regularly travels with his work. We found it very interesting to step into the world of this fashion designer
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
I didn’t- it chose me! I have had a sewing needle in my hand since the age of five; it never entered my head to study anything other than design.
How long have you been designing clothing?
Officially? Ten years. Unofficially? For as long as I can remember. It went from dressing my dolls to ‘recycling’ my shop-bought clothes. My husband always tells the story that when we first met he came to my parents’ house to pick me up. I complained that I had nothing to wear. I said ‘hang on for half an hour and I will make something’. He thought I was joking. I wasn’t. My parents didn’t even blink.
What was your big break?
I don’t think there was one big break, I think there were a number of lucky opportunities. That combined with a lot of hard work and supportive family and friends meant that there were a lot of mini breaks! It is very funny though – theharder one works the luckier one seems to get!
What is your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
I am always learning. I am learning from people, I am learning about people. Because design is so creative, the mind is always on the go.
What were your inspirations for the designs you have created?
There have been so many. But you know what: I can honestly say for the most part, it is the Irish woman on the street. I often look at a lady that I feel has dressed with style, she has a presence and I analyse the look – how did she make it work? Style should always express one’s personality.
How did you select the materials you use?
My mantra is never to compromise on quality. A good fabric will allow for a good cut. My designs are not disposable; once you buy an MMC design you have it for life. The fabric needs to stick the pace too. I am also drawn to colour and prints. What catches my eye, what stands apart, what talks to me and is unique – just like the individual I am designing for.
How do you feel about dressing all of these glamorous celebrities?
Of course I love it, who wouldn’t? It is such a thrill to meet these famous faces that I feel I know as they are in my living room on a daily basis – albeit on the TV screen! But I can honestly say I get just as much as a buzz designing for my non-celebrity clients. Nothing can beat the feeling of knowing that someone has left your studio feeling happy in themselves, that they feel they look well in their clothes and that will give them a confidence boost.
Who would be your dream person to dress?
Jennifer Aniston. She is an elegant, beautiful woman who seems so natural. She can teach us all a thing or two about dressing to suit you never means having to compromise on style.
What is your approach when you start a piece?
The fabric usually determines what I willmake- it’s asif it walks off the counter and into my head as a piece. If it is a bespoke piece, it would be the client’s own personality.
Do you try to send out a message or theme in your clothes?
I never intentionally decided to send out a message but I am told that I inadvertently have. Style is individual, it is classic and it is elegant – but most importantly it is unique to each and every woman. And to be honest, that is exactly what all of my pieces are.
Who is your favourite designer?
I think Victoria Beckham is a woman that has sartorially grown up before our eyes. She has made the fashion mistakes – haven’t we all- but she has found herself, and all in the public eye. I feel her clothes and looks will stand the test of time.
Any advice to designers starting up?
Be true to yourself. Never try to copy others. Go with your gut instinct, never rest on your laurels and you will have a winning formula on your hands.
What are the hours of a fashion designer like?
Do you really want to know?! I have heard of a thing called a working day and a routine but I need to look the latter up in a dictionary! In a world that involves 3 children, a husband that works away from home and a job that is by no means predictable, I would love to know what my hours are like myself!
How do you get your best work done? Do you have a process?
Blind panic….Joking! Of course there are manic times but I have a great team behind me. It is amazing what a working day can throw at you. And just when you think things are going swimmingly…..
You have travelled a lot and done shows in Abu Dhabi… can you tell us about this experience?
Abu Dhabi is a magical world – an entirely different one. I had to put the thinking cap firmly on to ensure my designs reflected this different way of life. I am so fortunate that I have a great friend out there who made the transition an easy one for me. It did not do me an ounce of harm to feel some sun on my bones either.
And you are an award winning fashion designer…
I know – I have to pinch myself… it is the icing on the cake to receive recognition for doing something you love.
You have a very busy life… What do you do to relax?
Jogging. I just find it amazing that by being out in the fresh air and by just managing to place one foot in front of the other – repeatedly – how the world can look a calmer and nicer place than it did just thirty minutes previous. Also, there’s nothing better than a good book. With a demanding job and trying hard to be a good mother, reading is about the best form of escapism I can get!
What are your plans for the future of MMC design?
Progress in anything brings problems, opportunities and solutions. That is what I have found anyway. My latest opportunity is that I am now being stocked in the Middle East – and I am all too aware how fortunate I am to be able to say this. The problem is time – the Middle East isn’t exactly down the road. And as for the solution – hold on ‘til I have a chat with the Hubby!! (Laughs)
Words – Michelle Costello
Photography – Tarmo Tulit