The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design was founded in 1938 by the Dublin-born fashion pioneer, Pauline Clotworthy. Originally called The Grafton Academy of Dress Designing, it was the first fashion design college in Ireland.
The Grafton Academy of Fashion Design is Ireland’s centre for design and creativity. Several Irish and International success stories have studied here – including Louise Kennedy, Paul Costelloe, Richard Lewis and Patric Casey.
Pauline Elizabeth Keller Clotworthy was born in Dublin in 1912. From an early age, she showed a keen interest in sketching and writing, going on to study at Dublin’s Metropolitan School of Art. It was there that one of her tutors, the renowned artist Sean Keating, warned her against turning her life drawings into fashion illustrations. However, she realised that this was exactly what she wanted to do, so she enrolled into the Browns Paris School of Fashion in London, where she learnt the art of representing fabrics and textures in watercolour.
When she came home, Pauline was advised by Ronald Nesbit, director of Arnotts, the major Dublin department store that she should learn how to make and produce her designs, so she returned to London to study at the British Institute of Dress Designing, alongside fellow students such as Hardy Amies.
Pauline understood that she had benefited from an education that was not available in Ireland. She wanted to share the skills she had acquired and offer the same high standard of specialist training to her own country. Shortly after graduating in 1938, she established the Grafton Academy, Ireland’s first fashion design school. Within a year, it had staged its debut show and quickly went from strength to strength. Early graduates of the Academy included Neilli Mulcahy, Ib Jorgensen and Clodagh Phipps, all of whom made a significant contribution in promoting Irish fashion culture, both home and abroad.
Many decades later, the Grafton Academy continues to be one of the most prestigious and respected educational establishments in the fashion industry. That success has been built on developing the talents and realising the potential of every student we teach.
Kay O’Brien in front of 17 South Frederick Street.
Before a fashion show in 1953, Kay O’Brien now Mrs O’Riordan designer and owner of Rainbow Fashions is the spotty one.
Glyns Miller welcomed home after coming 2nd in International Euro-fashion 1968.
5 models line up for final judging of eveningwear at fashion show.
Marie Granger was a tutor for over 20 years seen here in a classroom in 17 South Frederick Street.
Winner G.A. Challenge Cup by Elizabeth Quin. Bermuda shorts with hat, jacket with net stitched over jacket.