Tea in mayor’s parlour for US author and designer Geraldine

Author Kathleen Curtis Wilson signs the visitors' book in Larne Mayor's Parlour with Larne Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna, Chief Executive Geraldine McGahey and fashion designer Geraldine Connon. INLT 26-372-PR

Author Kathleen Curtis Wilson signs the visitors' book in Larne Mayor's Parlour with Larne Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna, Chief Executive Geraldine McGahey and fashion designer Geraldine Connon. INLT 26-372-PR

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THE American author of a beautiful book on Irish linen has visited the home town of a Larne fashion designer whose work her publication has helped put on the global map.

Kathleen Curtis Wilson has travelled to Northern Ireland many times over the last 10 years to research and prepare her book, ‘Irish People, Irish Linen’.

Her latest visit included an invitation to afternoon tea in the Mayor’s Parlour, from Councillor Gerardine Mulvenna, in one of her first duties as ‘first citizen’.

“I wanted to welcome the author to Larne and in particular, to give recognition to the incredible talent we have in the borough. One of Geraldine Connon’s linen designs features in Kathleen’s fantastic book,” said the Mayor.

Kathleen’s research into Irish linen and the people involved in the industry over the centuries also includes many images of artefacts in Northern Irish museums and particularly from the collections of the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum.

An important purpose of the Irish Linen Centre is to present the history of the Irish linen industry and through its collections and research to illustrate its heritage.

The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum recently hosted a gala celebration of Kathleen Curtis Wilson’s book. This was followed by a remarkable display of contemporary linen clothes designed by Geraldine Connon and a presentation to the museum of Sybil Connolly-designed haute couture by Shirley Lord from New York.

Brian Mackey, the Curator of the Irish Linen Centre speaking about the donations to the museum by Shirley Lord said: “The Sybil Connolly high fashion garments given to the museum are very important acquisitions as they are the creation of an internationally-known Irish couturier whose trademark specialism was her distinctive pleating of very fine cambric linen”.

Mrs Shirley Lord, the former wife of the late industrialist Cyril Lord who has lived in New York for many years, where she has been the beauty editor of Vogue magazine, spoke about her pleasure in being back in Northern Ireland and of her delight in seeing the ‘Flax to Fabric’ exhibition in the Irish Linen Centre.

Geraldine’s show, with six models dressed in remarkably creative contemporary styled linen clothes, accessorised by Hillsborough’s award-winning hairdresser Shane Bennett, was received with a standing ovation by the invited audience. Each piece individually designed by Geraldine, had a ‘wow’ factor, but none more so than the last to be paraded which was made up from flax, hanks of yarn and linen warp threads into a stunning creation.

Geraldine told the Larne Times that she considered Shirley Lord Rosenthal’s response to her collection, ‘seeing it as clever in that ladies would see elements within it they could wear and presented just as John Galliano would show on a catwalk’, was the “highest accolade” any designer could expect to receive, coming from an American Vogue editor.

“Sharing the stage with these two accomplished ladies at the linen event has been the highlight of my career to date,” said Geraldine.

She said she was extremely grateful to Norman, a native of Larne, and director of the Northern Ireland Office in Washington, for making it all possible.

She also thanked Gerardine Mulvenna for the invitation to the Mayor’s Parlour to mark the occasion and for welcoming Kathleen Curtis Wilson to Larne.