Laura Weber | Multidisciplinary Fashion Designer

Getting to know a three-time Irish Olympian, ahead of one of the biggest days in her life away from sporting arena, was the genesis for Irish fashion designer Laura Weber designing Team Ireland’s uniforms for the opening and closing ceremonies in Paris 2024. Weber, a textile graduate from NCAD, first came to international prominence when her intricate embroidery featured on the outfit that Jill Biden wore at her husband’s inauguration as American president in 2021. “After I did the Jill Biden embroidery for (designer) Gabriella Hearst in 2021, Natalya Coyle reached out to me to ask me to embroider her wedding dress and we were back and forth a lot and became really good friends through the process,” Weber explains.

“We chatted a lot about her sports, her (multiple) competition uniforms, how they came about and how she wore them and I saw so much perseverance and dedication and drive in her as an athlete.”

Weber was already aware that some of the world’s top fashion designers support their country’s Olympians by designing their team kit and ceremonial outfits, with Stella McCartney (GB) and Giorgio Armani (Italy) two of the most prominent. The Manhattan-based Dubliner, whose company LW Pearl specialises in couture embellishment, once embroidered some of USA’s Olympic team kit for Ralph Lauren when she first moved to America. The location of this summer’s Games proved an additional prompt for her to approach the Olympic Federation of Ireland. “I knew the OFI had worked with John Rocha and Paul Costello in the past but mostly, I think, on team blazers.

These Olympics are in Paris, the fashion capital of the world, and Louis Vuitton is a huge sponsor of the French team, that’s the kind of support they are getting. “Whenever the Olympics come around everyone in a country gets behind the athletes. They get support from so many different fields and that is what our athletes deserve because they give up their lives to represent their country.”

Her own career perfectly reflects the ethos of the OFI’s schools’ programme ‘Dare To Believe’ of which she has become a big fan. Weber worked in London before moving to New York in 2013 to follow her own dream, first working on couture embellishment for a specialist factory in the garment district before forming her own company which does the same work but also produces her own designs. Her intricate artistry has been worn by a who’s who of celebrities, from Michelle Obama to Beyonce and Rihanna, and Weber also designed Saoirse Ronan’s green gown for the 2016 Oscars.

She comes from a sporty family in Rathfarnham and played hockey at school and for the Loreto club where her teammates included a future Irish Olympian. “Yes, I played hockey with Hannah Matthews!” she says proudly. “Hannah’s mom used to drive us to all our matches. That sense of camaraderie and family that you get from sports, I genuinely don’t think you get it in anything else. “And I don’t think the discipline I now have for business would have come from anything other than the discipline I learned through training and sport.”

She sees many parallels between her demanding industry and elite sport: “The endurance it takes, the results that you don’t see from one day to the next. There’s no such thing as overnight success in fashion. It’s about years and years of practice and training and sport is exactly the same.”

That’s why Weber is so passionate about sending Team Ireland down the Siene (the venue for the Paris opening ceremony) in clothing that creatively reflects Ireland’s Olympic history and the athletes’ national status and pride. Each bespoke outfit consists of two jackets (different ones for the opening and closing ceremonies), a fine-knit t-shirt, trousers and trainers.

The jackets are embroidered with each athlete’s county emblem and four shamrocks, in different techniques, to represent the four provinces. Each jacket face is also embroidered with the athlete’s name, making it a personal keepsake. Weber’s own pride in being Irish has been amplified by emigration and observing, from a distance, so much recent international success in so many fields.

“There are Irish people just glowing around the world right now, whether in sport or music or films and entertainment. It feels like such a great time to be Irish, there is so much hope and pride and we are so lucky to say that because there’s just such upheaval and division in other countries,” she observes. She spent three years working on the initial designs before asking a representative group of Olympic athletes for their input and their greatest concern was about overheating. The suit fabric is an ECO-Hybrid taffeta, a lightweight, sustainable fabric manufactured using recycled t-shirts and PET bottles.

“The back vent opens directly on to their backs, which is not traditional in a suit jacket but breathability was so important for them and we took a kind if sailing/yaching approach.”

The design is primarily white because it is a colour that links to the Olympics’ Greek heritage, Ireland’s 100th anniversary in the Games and is the colour of prosperity and hope. “I felt white really represents what the opening ceremony is all about, of the athletes going into the games with a blank canvas feeling anything can happen.”

The design of the jacket for the closing ceremony (which is green) has a particularly unique strapping detail. From a bird’s eye view the strapping looks like a five-pointed star but the addition of a medal ribbon will complete a special six pointed star around their neck. Given the late confirmation of some qualifiers, manufacturing and fitting will continue right until the 11th hour and Weber will be in Paris to make any necessary last-minute adjustments.

It is fair to say she and her team will be making their own Olympian effort so how does it feel to be playing this part for Team Ireland?

“This has always been for the athletes, showing up for them and giving them what they deserve,” she stresses. “Everyone knows how great you can feel when you put on a dress or jacket that makes you feel confident.

Once the athletes are happy and feel really proud and comfortable, that is all that matters.”

Scroll to Top