Belfast Telegraph

Paul Costelloe's first job was selling bibles door-to-door in Northern Ireland

By Brett Campbell

Renowned fashion designer Paul Costelloe has told how he first worked as a Bible salesman in Northern Ireland before going on to create high-class clothes.

The Dublin-born couturier, who first left Ireland at the age of 19 to "live off tins of ravioli" in Paris, soon became a royal favourite and designed many of Princess Diana's outfits.

The 71-year-old continues to dress members of the royal family, including the Queen's granddaughter, Zara Tindall.

But before he established himself as a catwalk king, Costelloe was selling Bibles in Northern Ireland at the age of 15.

"Can you imagine?" he said. "I'd be knocking on doors quoting the Pope."

He went on to train with Jacques Esterel - a contemporary of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Gardin - before later moving to Milan. He eventually made it to New York where he launched his own eponymous brand.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Costelloe said he still gets choked up about the Princess of Wales almost 20 years after her death.

"I would go to Kensington Palace and bring her a bunch of flowers each time. She was so thrilled," the designer recalled.

"I don't think he [Charles] ever gave her a flower. I particularly remember a suit I designed for her when she appeared in Hyde Park with Pavarotti. It was raining but she was sun-kissed and breathtakingly gorgeous.

"I get tears in my eyes when I think about her."

He believes that he produced his best work for the Princess and said he received lots of "nice little cheques signed by Prince Charles."

But his most lucrative contract came when he was commissioned to create the iconic 1992 British Airways uniform.

The youngest of seven children now has seven grown-up kids of his own with wife Anne Cooper (56).

He attributes his confessed lack of savings to the cost of their private education, which amounted to between £20,000 and £30,000 per year for each child.

"It's impossible to be a saver with seven children," he said. "You have to give them a good education, bring food into the house and buy a car every, say, 18 years. We always have about four kids living at home. I quite enjoy it. I suppose it's an Irish thing."

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