Derry's Jen Kelly to preview new collection at the Guildhall

Derry born Couture Designer, Jen Kelly, who has dressed presidents and princesses is set to give an exclusive preview of his 2017 collection at this years '˜Fashion Fest' Fashion Show on Saturday November 19 in the historic Guildhall.

Monday, 17th October 2016, 5:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 3:15 pm
Jen Kelly is a world famous fashion designer.

Derry City and Strabane District Council have secured Jen, Ireland’s most renowned fashion designer as its show headliner.

The show itself will be a high octane, professionally produced fashion show, featuring emerging and established designers from across the island of Ireland. The preview of Jen’s exclusive designs will be the closing collection of the night.

The internationally renowned designer is a real coup for the event. Now recognised as one of Europe’s leading haute couturists, Jen has successfully showcased his collections to audiences in New York and Japan over the years. His work is also included in a capsule collection in the Ulster Museum noting his contribution to Irish Fashion.

Some Jen Kelly's latest fashion creations.

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council said, ‘Fashion Fest and particularly the Fashion Show is all about promoting and celebrating local designers and we are delighted that Jen has chosen the event to preview his new collection at the Guildhall, in his home town.’

Louise Breslin, Programme Manager at Derry City and Strabane District Council added, “Jen, is perfect inspiration for budding designers, having grown up in the city and now counting the likes of Michelle Obama and the Saudi Royal family as customers to his bespoke designs. He has also had his specially designed fabrics bought for creations by couture power houses such as Dior and Chanel.

“It is a real coup for this year’s Fashion Fest event to have such a high profile designer like Jen and industry experts such as Deirdre McQuillan and Edward Shanahan, who will be involved in the Design Showcase the evening before the Fashion Show. Tickets will be limited for this event and it’s sure to be a sell-out so get your tickets early.”

Jen Kelly gave an insight into where it all began, what has inspired his previous designs and what to expect from the collection he’ll bring to the Guildhall.

The event is due to take place in the Guildhall next month.

“I started in the fashion trade working at Austin’s Department Store from the age of thirteen - I actually pretended I was fifteen to the store owner to ensure I got the job. I learnt a lot there about clothing, retail and building relationships with people.

“As to what inspires my designs, I take inspiration from many things. As a young child I found myself drawn to the ornate and intricate designs and rich fabrics used in church buildings throughout the city. I recall specifically sitting in buildings such as St. Columb’s Cathedral and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Steelstown in Derry looking at the expensive colourful fabrics and opulent paintings of adoration and my innocent mind knew these were things of value and beauty. Our Lady of Lourdes Church was a newly designed church by Liam McCormick. What caught my eye there was the designer’s ability to carve sentiment into the materials and the unique iconographic art work by Sister Aloysius McVeigh which often resembled art works you’d find in illuminated manuscripts.

“My own designs are created in a similar fashion, preciously hand crafted with attention to the finest details with intricate, detailed tailoring. As to what to expect from my exhibit at the Guildhall next month, I’ll be bringing items from my new collection so expect jewel colours and lustrous fabrics, plus they’ll be one or two pieces from my previous collections which I am very proud of.”

The Fashion Fest Fashion Show will take place on Saturday November 19. Tickets are now available, entry is free of charge however places are limited and attendance must be registered by emailing [email protected]

Some Jen Kelly's latest fashion creations.

Fashion Fest will run from November 18 to 20 and will feature special offers, live fashion events and in-store activities that are not to be missed by fashion lovers, especially if you like keeping up to date with current and upcoming trends. More information can be found at

The event is due to take place in the Guildhall next month.