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Helen Cody’s ghostly new collection of dresses, corsets and coats

Ready-to-wear attire includes fabrics sourced from Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino deadstock

Couturier Helen Cody needs no introduction for the fairytale femininity and craftsmanship with which she has always been associated: the handmade embellishments, the haute couture fabrics, the attention to detail and finish. Her creations are sought after for weddings and for red carpet and film premieres. Most recently, dresses for Kila and Elaine Cassidy for the debuts of acclaimed movie The Wonder in London and Dublin, and the British Independent Film Awards in London last week.

It’s not surprising that she has always believed that her ready-to-wear collections have a narrative, a scenario. The latest, her first in several years to be photographed, is called Ghosts and tells a story, she says, “about the girl who leaves her home only to return later as a successful woman and finds it not only in disrepair but she is haunted by the ghosts of her past”.

The girl is dressed in appliquéd silk and tulle dresses, in laser cut corsets, in wool guipure and red cashmere coats, origami pleats, ribbons, feathers and sequins, many fabrics sourced from Dior, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino deadstock. Cody has supplemented many of them with bags in leftover material and recalls her early days as a designer when Dublin flower sellers called her “the bag lady” as she struggled with her loads. “I don’t waste anything and only buy enough fabric for two coats or dresses,” she says.

She operates from a bright and airy studio near Harold’s Cross (her two Jack Russell twins, Harry and Joe, in tow) filled with bolts of material, a huge pattern cutting table and racks of elaborate clothes (with shoes and boots sourced to match), aided by two highly skilled craftswomen: machinist Natalia from Belarus – an expert knitter – and Yvane from Brittany, who trained in haute couture. “We are a collaborative team,” says Cody.


Much in demand for bridal and special occasion wear since she started posting imagery on Instagram nine years ago, her business has grown exponentially and she now has clients in the Bahamas, London, Paris and New York, as well as at home.

“People in Ireland are getting married in a rush now after Covid restrictions were lifted. We usually allow six months from consultation to completion for bridal wear – and I already have bookings for weddings in 2023. We are very inclusive and our sizes are from 8-26. The first consultation is key – it has to be collaborative, has to have my signature and there has to be trust on both sides.”

She was working on an Irish winter wedding to be held in the Dolomites when we met, designing a bridal dress in snow white cable knit and bonded cashmere and silk.

A stock of shapes and toiles (test garments) are kept to suit various body shapes, “so clients can visualise the finished garment”, she says. As to her own style, she admits that she only buys secondhand and online and was decked out in a striking Junya Watanabe blue and white striped dress from Vestiaire with a Kenzo scarf. “I don’t buy anything new for myself any more.”

Her long-standing passion for fabric and fabric manipulation she attributes to her artistic mother Mary, now 94, who made all the Cody children’s clothes growing up. “She smocked all our clothes, and even knitted a collection for my Sindy dolls and made a little Chanel suit for them. So I blame her for what I love doing,” she says with a laugh, stroking a green iridescent sequinned dress into what she calls “shroud of Turin faces”.

All the items shown here are for sale, but in limited numbers. Visit for more information. All prices on request. Instagram: @helencodydublin

Photography: Veronika Faustman; model: Donna at NotAnother agency; make-up: Dearbhla Keenan @Brown Sugar; styling assistant: Magaly Migliano

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author