18 January, 2022
The Hunt Museum holds a large archive of Sybil Connolly’s collection, donated by her nephew John Connolly. It includes her haute couture, sketches, scrapbooks, fabric, wallpaper, ceramic and glass.
Due to wear and tear many of the dresses are in need of conservation requiring the museum to raise funds to employ an expert conservator. The campaign wants to raise €12,500 towards the cost of bringing these garments back to their former glory.
Support for the campaign from Sybil Connolly expert, the Irish Aesthete, Robert O’Byrne:
Sybil believed fashion designers should have a clear look, and that Irish fabrics were the best expression of ‘her look’. Sybil had many remarkable achievements. She was an influencer, she knew the value of the image, she was contemporary in her ability to sell her designs to important patrons. Most importantly she forged a path for Irish women, designers and entrepreneurs. But now these designs and fabulous Irish fabrics need your help.
And from Limerick’s own fashion stylist and model, Celia Holman-Lee who says:
In her day, Sybil was one of the world’s great designers, designing for icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis. It is very fitting that such a major collection of her work resides in Limerick’s Hunt Museum. Limerick has in its blood the entrepreneurism and innovation that can be seen in Sybil’s creations. We must protect, save, mind and guard this beautiful haute couture collection for all generations to come.
To contribute to the campaign follow this link. The rewards include limited editions of a Nicholas Mosse mug, who worked with Sybil when she moved into interior design, and some limited edition prints of her original sketches.
Thirteen garments are scheduled for conservation: Dark Red Evening Coat, Heiress, Irish Moss, Red flannel skirt ‘Washer Woman’, Wedding Dress and veil, a Two piece wedding dress, the Dress from the premiere of Mary Poppins in LA and Pink Ice, Red wool cape, White crochet dress, Cream Crochet Jacket, the ‘Illusion’ coat and a Tweed jacket belonging to Gertrude Hunt
Notes for Editors:
The Hunt Museum www.huntmuseum.com
The Hunt Museum holds one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. Donated by John and Gertrude Hunt to the people of Ireland, this diverse collection is housed in The Custom House, an 18th Century Palladian style building in Limerick. The Hunt Museum is a centre of learning and civic life that preserves and uses its world-class collections to support a greater understanding of our past and to deliver new collaborations and innovation. Public engagement is key to our approach with a full education programme and wide community participation in all our work.
Sybil Connolly (1921-1998) was an innovator, influencer, entrepreneur, a fashion designer who is renowned for creating haute couture from Irish textiles. She used materials such as finely pleated handkerchief linen, delicate crochet lace and durable Irish tweed to create designs that were inspired by Irish people, traditions and culture.
Dubbed by the media as “Dublin’s Dior”, Sybil was truly a pioneering designer and was one of the first Irish fashion designers to have international success. She surprised and delighted the fashion world with her creations in the 1950s, and worked with department stores Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor, NYC. Famous clients of hers included America’s First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and actresses Adele Astaire (musical Funny Face) and Julie Andrews (film Sound of Music). Many of Sybil’s designs featured in fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s.
Sybil worked from Ireland, employing many people in a country still finding its feet after independence. Later in her career, she turned her attention to interior and garden design, creating wallpapers, fabrics, glass and ceramics for companies such as Tipperary Crystal and Tiffany & Co, NYC.
Images of Garments in need of restoration.
If looking for one of our objects, please click here