Christine O’Donoghue de Vries is a sustainable artist and fashion designer who creates wearable art from her watercolor paintings, photography and screen prints. Having spent years away from her hometown of Muckross, Killarney, on her return she felt compelled to document through design and imagery a world that remained largely unchanged.
Christine founded House of Kerry in November 2016, inspired by the old farmhouse that was in her family for generations which she renovated and now lives with her young family. Here she sources only natural, ethical and recycled materials using sustainable processes. Limited edition runs are created of her scarf designs which are printed at a state-of-the-art facility near Lake Como with hand rolled edges. In sustainable style she creates scarf dresses/kaftans made to order in her studio in County Kerry as well as made to order kimono style silk and tweed robes with her silk design trimming, each handcrafted in Ireland, each one unique, made from her own fabric by the meter designs. Nothing is wasted and spare scraps of fabric are reborn as bowties and pocket squares.
Inspired by the Irish landscape, old world glamour and the magic of her surroundings, Christine enjoys creating designs with layers of meaning. Her current collection “where the heart sings” carries a hint of surrealism with designs in watercolors inspired by the 19th Century politician and emancipator Daniel O’Connell walking along the beach at his beloved Derrynane in County Kerry alongside two wolfhounds. Daniel spent his childhood at Derrynane and it was here, immersed in the natural beauty of the landscape that he found respite from the pressures of working life. He wears his “artist cap” or “Cap of Liberty” a gift to him from Irish artists John Hogan and Henry MacManus at the famous monster rally at Mullaghmast in 1843. The hat was to become synonymous with Daniel O’Connell and the sculptor John Hogan even immortalized it in stone when he carved O’Connell’s likeness in stone on the east door of St. James Church in Dublin.
Another of Christine’s designs is inspired by the legend of Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth in Celtic mythology and the legend of Óisin and Niamh Cinn Óir. In this design she depicts the legendary white horse fused with the beach at White Strand in Sneem, County Kerry.
Her upcoming collections are entitled “Pour la Vie” (for life) inspired by the climate change emergency. With slogans such as “food for bees for thought” and “truth, beauty, sustainability,” her new collections, kimonos, tweed, wool berets, bowties and pocket squares will be available soon.
“No matter what we do we make a carbon footprint,” Christine says. “The choice is to make that footprint as little as possible.” For the Rose of Tralee fashion show Christine embellished tweed berets with sustainable Swarovski Crystal skulls and petals (flowers as fossils) and she upcycled a brand-new fabric-silage netting from the farm. She hand dyed it using non- toxic dye to embellish a woolen beret and for a scarf for the show she embellished it with Swarovski crystals representing Kerry’s world-famous Dark Sky Reserve.
Christine is a registered Designer/Craftsperson with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. She was recently selected to join Design Ireland representing the best of design, craft, fashion and jewelry in the country. She was nominated in 2017 and 2018 for the international Arts Crafts and Design Awards and in 2018 she won Hi! Styles Fashion Designer of the Year. Most recently she achieved the prestigious Designer of the Year 2019 at the Rose of Tralee Awards.