MODEL agent Celia Holman Lee could hold an exhibition of her clothing 10 times over, but a collection of the garments she has worn over the decades have been carefully selected for more than just their fashion acumen.
Many of designer items put on display this Wednesday night in the Hunt Museum - in the biggest personal show of her life - also have deep, sentimental connotations - including the ‘going away’ suit she wore the day after her wedding.
Also on display will be the dazzling red dress she wore when she was crowned Most Stylish Woman of the year in 2002, and the Great Gatsby inspired designs she wore for the Oxendale adverts for Downton Abbey.
There is also a piece she wore as grand marshal for the St Patrick’s day parade nine years ago, which stands out for poignant reasons as her mother passed away the following day.
The collection features some 29 key pieces from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and noughties, and she told the Limerick Leader “90% were manufactured in Limerick” or by designers with a connection to her beloved city.
“The connection to Limerick is huge and it’s really special for me. I couldn’t believe I had all these clothes up in the loft. I have given away plenty of clothes, but I always hold on to good designer pieces. Many of them were personally made for me for special occasions, so there is no way I would dispose of them,” said Celia.
In advance of her show - which is expected to attract record numbers to the museum - she revealed she has been nominated again for most stylish person of the year, and is the most nominated woman in its history.
The pieces on display are by international designers such as Don O’Neill, Paul Costelloe and Rachel Gilbert, while others are from some of her favourite local designers, including the late Katherine Keane, John McNamara, Caroline Mitchell, Fiona Whyte and Marion Murphy Cooney.
Her wedding dress, sadly, won’t be in the show as she said she cut it up to make communion dresses for her daughter.
RTE presenter Mary Kennedy, who will open the exhibition, said: “Celia has been one of the main movers and shakers in the Irish fashion industry for many decades and the Hunt Museum has to be congratulated in allowing this platform for her array of Irish fashion designers.”
The new chairman of the Hunt Museum, John Moran, in his first event at the Hunt, said “this exhibition is assured of huge visitor numbers and is the latest in a range of successful locally-based initiatives in recent years and reflects the strategic direction of expanding the activities of the Hunt Museum into exhibitions of particular local interest.”
The show runs from March 5 until May 3, and admission is free.