Photography by Jackie Nickerson
Lainey Keogh was born and raised in the wild Irish countryside, one of ten children from a third generation farming family. Knitting was part of her heritage and sensibility, a craft deeply ingrained from childhood, her skills inherited from her mother and grandmother. Her career as a designer began when she started knitting sweaters for lovers and friends that were innovative, tactile and sensual and created such a demand that she opened a business in a small studio in Dublin.
Today she is the undisputed queen of cashmere, a spinner of dreams, known both at home and abroad for pushing the boundaries of knit and fibre design creatively and technically and whose billowing cardigans, sexy and voluptuous goddess dresses and colour loaded sweaters have changed forever the image of Irish knitwear.
Her first show at London Fashion Week in February 1997 was a sensation revealing the potential of an ancient craft in mesmerizing ways. In France Christian Lacroix seeing her work for the first time declared it a "coup de foudre" - love at first sight. Some of her most technically sophisticated hand-woven textiles were later featured in Christian Dior haute couture.
Each piece she creates is luxurious and sensual with "feel appeal" that has won her many fans worldwide. "I like to make things that are subtle, soft and mysterious", she says. She has experimented with coated cotton, ultraviolet yarns, fishing lines, feathers, embroidery, felting and Lurex in groundbreaking ways. Her work has featured in exhibitions in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Costume Museum in Bath, the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. She has been honoured in her own homeland with one of her knits featured on a postage stamp.
Her admirers include Donna Karan, Daphne Guinness, Jamie Leigh Curtis, Beyonce, the late and great Elizabeth Taylor and many others. Stockists are some of the world's most discerning stores - Maxfield and Elyse Walker in Los Angeles, Alan Bilzerian in Boston, Blake in Chicago and Mitchells stores in Westport and Greenwich CT, Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco and Mario's in Seattle. She continues to show in Paris twice a year.
"People are looking for modern romance - we've all had it with minimalism - and she provides a very modern way of having romantic clothes."
Susy Menkes, International Herald Tribune
"What's exciting about Lainey is that she's always pushing the boundaries on what's technically possible. She has been able to take knitwear into a new dimension by working with yarns technically as well as creatively."
Hamish Bowles, US Vogue