Thursday, April 26, 2012

In Sybil Connolly's House

The late fashion designer Sybil Connolly has long intrigued me. I first learned of her while employed by Tiffany & Co., with whom she collaborated on various tableware items including one of my favorite china patterns, Mrs. Delany's Flowers. A few of the Tiffany & Co. books also piqued my interest in her, especially those that showed glimpses of her Dublin home. But I have to say that I appreciate her even more now that I've read In an Irish House, a book written by Connolly that profiles some of the prettiest houses in Ireland including that of Connolly.

Connolly famously lived at 71 Merrion Square, Dublin in an 18th c. home that housed both her couture studio as well as her private home. (Connolly, by the way, opened the first couture studio in Ireland.) As you can see, the interiors were filled with all kinds of treasures from antique furniture to porcelain to floral wallpapers and fabrics. It's obvious after looking at the photos that Connolly not only had a love of pretty things but an appreciation for the past as well. A woman after my own heart.

Who knows? Maybe it's time for a Sybil Connolly revival. Actress Gillian Anderson recently wore a stunning vintage Connolly gown for the Bafta awards, something that will hopefully bring greater attention to the late designer.

The door leading to her Merrion Square home.

A view of Connolly's bedroom. The fruitwood daybed was early 19th c. French.

Connolly chose the wallpaper and fabric because they matched the pattern found on her antique Angoulême china, seen on the mantelpiece.

In addition to designing for Brunschwig & Fils and Tiffany & Co., Connolly also worked with Martex. The set of sheets is one of her designs.

A closer look at the Angoulême inspired wallpaper.

The drawing room. The chintz that covered the sofa and chairs was one of Connolly's designs for Brunschwig, a pattern inspired by the work of Mrs. Delany.

The sitting room in Connolly's mews house. The sofa's chintz was designed by Sybil Connolly for Robert Allen.

Connolly's charming kitchen with its 19th c. blue and white Delft tile.

A linen cupboard filled with Porthault linen as well as Connolly's homemade potpourri.

All images from In an Irish House.


  1. I enjoyed this post very much. I'm a tried and true Anglophile so I just ordered Ms. Connolly's book, An Irish House. Thank you so much for featuring this lovely home.

    1. Kitty Fitzgerald1:20 PM

      Don't you mean Hibernophile? England has so many wonderful designers: please let Ireland keep this one!

  2. A Tribute to Mrs. Connolly how wonderfully divine.

  3. A charming home filled with lovely things and beautiful fabrics. And a kitchen that looks like somebody actually cooks there. The trend these days is for a home or apartment to look like a hotel room and a big marble kitchen that looks like no one even boils a pot of water. A lot of the shelter magazines seem to promote this theme and it all looks a bit sterile. A home is meant to be lived in not a set piece in a museum.

    1. I noticed the same thing -- I love to see houses that are clearly lived in -- love the speakers in the bedroom, too!

  4. Now that is a linen closet! How wonderful to be able to hang linens instead of folding them. Clearly she liked yellow as it seems to turn up in most of the rooms. The two different yellows used on the walls are so beautiful, especially paired with pinks.

  5. Jennifer how lovely and talented a woman. Her designs are so feminine, I love her bedding and linen closet!

    Art by Karena

  6. So loved reading about Sybil Connolly,I went to her house/shop in the 1990's she was an absolute dear and her butler took me on an extended tour of the house- heavenly! You know Jackie Kennedy was a huge Sybil fan in both house and clothes dept.

  7. I am a big fan of Sybil Connolly's. My Mother was a fashionista of her time and I have one her evening gowns designed by Mrs. Connolly's evening gowns- hand sewn, absolutely exquisite. Lovely post, as usual. Thank you.

  8. Rachel7:05 AM

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful images. I need to just embrace my love of chintz already, and this is inspring me. I adore her kitchen as well.

  9. Oh, how I love this post! My mother, (also a fashionista of her time) went to Ms. Connolly's "atelier" in the early "60's for an appointment for a "wardrobe". All made for her! I think there were 12 or 14 pieces!! (I still wear the divine black Irish lace classic dress (people think it is Chanel!); and the hand pleated irish linen skirt. (Jacqueline Kennedy wore it for her White House portrait); and the gorgeous Irish hand woven mohair tweed jacket ( that was part of a suit)

    In the early 90's; Ms. Connolly spoke to the Costume Council of the Los Angeles Museum of Art. I went to her talk; and to the reception afterwards. I wore my mother's pastel tweed suit.....jacket and skirt. She saw me from across the room full of ladies......and she made a beeline for me.......and recognized the suit as "one of her own" (as she put it!) When we talked; she actually remembered my mother! And wrote me a letter about it.....and invited me to visit her in Dublin with my husband as her houseguest!

    She even phoned me when she returned home to remind me she really wanted us to come!!!

    I so regret not just instantly hopping on a plane that week! Those are the things we regret! What we do not do!!I am grateful to have her book; and so I can see what I missed in person! A most delightful lady!

    (My mother also bought an enormous mirror there......I am going to write a blog about it! It is so funny)

    She was a multi-talented creative genius. And she helped Ireland's economy by using her talent and keeping the Irish handworks alive. The tweeds, the lace, and then the crystal and china with Tiffany's.

    Ireland could use her now!

    Thank you for this marvelous post!

  10. Michael5:23 AM

    Wow,that is a fabulous story.Sybil connolly was one of the best all round designers ireland ever produced,and there have been very few of those.That collection of yours sounds museum worthy