Úna Burke was born in a small village called Knockvicar, in County Roscommon in the West of Ireland. Her mother was a teacher and her father a farmer. They also kept guests in the family home, a wonderful old Georgian mansion called Riversdale House, which was formerly the residence of actress Maureen O'Sullivan, most famous for her role as Jane in the black and white Tarzan movies, and mother to actress Mia Farrow and Prudence Farrow, who inspired The Beetles song, "Dear Prudence". Growing up here with her four siblings, Úna enjoyed long summer days wandering through meadows by the shores of Lough Key, picking flowers and swaying on the swing or in a row-boat. Riversdale House is no longer a guesthouse but right next door the family now run a beautifully developed cluster of eco-friendly log-cabins called Riverhaven, which are open to rent all year round.
Leaving home in 1998, Úna studied at Limerick School of Art and Design and completed a four year degree in Fashion Design. She then went on to work with several fashion houses around Ireland, before moving to London in 2006 where she began a Masters in Fashion Artefact at the prestigious Cordwainers College in London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Her graduate collection won the 2009 LCF MA Design Award for Best Static Collection and she went on to win several more national and international Fashion, Art and Craft prizes, including a number of DCCI Future Maker Awards, The Golden Egg 2011 'Irish Fashion Designer of the Year' and nomination for the WGSN Global Fashion Awards in 2012. In 2019 she won an LIT Alumni Award for her contribution to culture and in 2020 won the Fashion category of the Irish Country Magazine "Irish Made Awards".
Úna set up her eponymous brand in 2010 in London, making both seasonal fashion collections and sculptural art pieces using her traditional leather-working techniques in her distinctly complex constructions. In January 2020 she moved home to her native Roscommon to continue her business with her partner Emmett Herbert and their son Leo. The fashion collections have continued to be concept based, with human stories at their core. Influence is taken from psychological, military and medical sources as a physical reference to the warrior spirit within each one of us. The Art pieces are figurative in form and come from this same source of inspiration. They are developed on a commission basis for private art collections, public exhibitions and museum archives. Úna's work has been exhibited in over twenty countries throughout the world and her clients and collectors include New York Designer Phillip Lim, Seoul's Simone Handbag Museum, The National Museum of Ireland and and Nick Knights creative laboratory 'SHOWstudio'.
Úna Burke leather accessories are timeless, elegant, considered and sculptural. They are designed for the discerning customer who appreciates quality and creativity. All styles are crafted entirely by hand in the Úna Burke Atelier in the West of Ireland and are made using only the best Vegetable Tanned cowhides and hardware sourced from the UK and Italy.
Our ethical practices and production processes resulted in us being one of the first brands to be awarded the 'Positive Luxury Butterfly Trust Mark' back in 2012.
"When a brand passes our assessment process, they receive the Butterfly Mark, which visibly authenticates luxury brands that contribute to a better world." www.positiveluxury.com
With such an avant garde design style, it's little wonder that the brand has developed a strong celebrity following. High profile clients include Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna, Heidi Klum, Nikki Minaj, Anna Calvi, Daphne Guinness, Bree Runway, Cindy Crawford, Ellen Pompeo, Fifth Harmony, Lindsey Sterling and Jill Kargman. Collections have appeared in Vogue, i-D, Collezioni, Numero, etc and are stocked in select boutiques worldwide.
Aside from seasonal collections, we have produced costumes for film and stage including a jacket and bodice for Michelle Yeoh as Captain Georgiou in Star Trek Discovery, an armbrace for Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, in The Hunger Games, Catching Fire , Belts and Collars for a scene with Donald Sutherland's character, President Snow, in The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1, a bodice for Beverley Knight in The Bodyguard, The Musical, and several pieces for Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. We have also collaborated with brands including car brands Lexus and Rolls Royce, cosmetic companies Nars and L'Oreal, London fashion brand Unconditional, Hong Kong boutique Joyce and glassware brand Irish Handmade Glass Company.