The Style Line Interviews Margaret O'Leary
Posted: Oct 01 2014
Margaret O’Leary has bridged the gap between fashion and function. As we head into cooler weather, the Irish-born and now California-based knitwear designer is already making waves on the East Coast. Her newly-opened Nolita boutique has become a destination for the style-minded seeking fall essentials with quality. From cable-knit to cashmere, we found ourselves overwhelmed with choice – Each piece radiated possibility and practicality that comes with fall dressing. Yet what struck us most, was the genuine passion radiating from Margaret as offered her take on select pieces and shared the origins of her brand. A true purveyor of craftsmanship, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share Margaret’s insights, more on her design endeavors and the influence city-living has held in her profession and beyond.
Story and interview by Rachel Schwartzmann conducted with Margaret O’Leary in September 2014 in New York City for The Style Line.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF!
I find beauty in all things and seek out the most beautiful places. I am very lucky because I get to spend my time between San Francisco, Paris, Ireland and New York as I am constantly traveling to source materials and find my inspiration. Above all, I value authenticity and creativity- in people, places and designs.
WHAT ROLE DOES CITY-LIFE PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC?
I find that when so many people are living so closely together in a city, our forms of self-expression become ever more urgent. Individuality can be hard to come by in large, crowded cities so I try to design in ways that allow the Margaret O’Leary customer to use her pieces to represent the mood and feeling she wishes to express on any given day.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT IN TERMS OF YOUR NEW NOLITA STORE AND IN YOUR OPINION HOW DOES THIS NYC NEIGHBORHOOD CATER TO THE MARGARET O’LEARY WOMAN?
I am so excited to be open on the East Coast! It’s really important to me to have a store in a neighborhood that people enjoy visiting. Our block of Mott Street (south of East Houston and north of Prince) is one of those really great New York streets that is energetic, but not too frenetic or touristy.
HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE PERSONAL STYLE?
I am constantly designing with my friends in mind- I wake up everyday thinking about what they would want to wear. Then, I go to my Margaret O’Leary stores and interact with the customers to get a sense of what they like about the current collection. I develop my designs without feeling overly influenced by the ‘trend of the moment’ and instead stay true to my customers’ lifestyles.
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION YOU WISH PEOPLE ASKED YOU MORE OFTEN?
I wish people would ask me more about the ways in which my Irish upbringing influences my California aesthetic.
HOW HAS YOUR PASSION FOR DESIGN INSPIRED YOUR OFF-DUTY PASSIONS? WHAT ARE SOME OFF-DUTY GOALS YOU WANT TO PURSUE THIS FALL?
When I am not in the design studio, I love to shop the flea markets. I particularly like Alameda, Rose Bowl, and Cligancourt in Paris. I find inspiration from the past for designs that I can evolve into the future. I also really value the time I am able to spend exploring nature and try to hike every day, either in Mill Valley, California or in whatever city I happen to be visiting.
WHAT STORY DO YOU HOPE TO TELL THROUGH YOUR DESIGN ENDEAVORS?
I hope to tell a story of inner peace and personal fulfillment. I am drawn to and use so much cashmere in my designs because the sensation it creates is one of inner warmth as well as outer comfort. Our California Chic aesthetic lets you be who you are and to me that’s very important
WHAT IS ONE ASPECT OF YOUR STORY OR SOMETHING THAT’S ON YOUR MIND THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE STYLE LINE COMMUNITY?
I am eternally grateful for the support that you all share with us. Being a family-owned business, it is the best gift of all to have so many loyal customers who truly love the Margaret O’Leary brand and are part of our extended family.