Shape I'm In: Paul Costelloe is cut out for the job

AT 6’4”, designer Paul Costelloe stands out from the crowd.

He also stands out in his profession because he’s a family man. “It’s awful. You find most of the people in the business are not married. They don’t have children, like John Rocha and myself. I’ve got seven kids and no matter what their age, you worry,” he says.

Referring to his Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle, he says for Anne, his wife of 30 years, being married to a designer is not easy. “She thinks it’s a dreadful business,” he says.

Aged 65, he says he feels 59, and has no intention of pulling down the shutters. In fact, from his base in London, he is in major expansion mode.

He has plans to visit China and explore that market, with the help of his son, Robert, who’s working there. In October, he will launch his men’s formal wear with David Jones, a big chainstore in Australia.

“I am desperately competitive,” he says. “It’s my Limerick blood. My father came from Limerick — he never surrendered. I still control the Paul Costelloe brand. It can be pretty exciting, like a circus act. You are the lion tamer and the trapeze artist, at the same time.”

* The Paul Costelloe for Arnotts ladieswear collection is now available in Arnotts, Henry Street, Dublin and at

What shape are you in?

Out of 100%, I’d say I’m 70%. I play in the odd tennis tournament. I usually get knocked out in the first round and enjoy it. I do a bit of jogging. I jog up to the heath, in Putney, and run around on my bare feet on the grass, which I love.

In the summer, I cycle to work. I am sure some people can do it in 25 minutes or less, but I do it in about 35 or 40 minutes. I grab any moment of nature, because London is a big, brute of a city.

Do you have any health concerns?

No. I just wish I was younger by about 20 years. I still have my own body parts — not the prettiest, but they are still functioning.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I eat a lot of fruit, in the office, and, generally, at home we eat very healthily. Anne insists on fish twice a week.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I love nothing more than a good, greasy spoon in the London area to help with those stressful moments.

What would keep you awake at night?

Eating dinner too late and creating ideas in my head. I keep a notebook next to my bed, in case I forget it in the morning.

How do you relax?

I find a jog, with one of my willing sons, on the weekend, a lot of fun, as well as the cinema, it’s a great escape.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Berlusconi, Tony Blair, the Iranian PM Mosaddegh, and Dolly Parton.

What’s your favourite smell?

Nothing beats freshly cut grass.

What would you change about your appearance?

Everything, except my height. I am 6’4”. I am growing old ungracefully. And I don’t like my big, Kerry nose. I inherited it from my grandmother — she had a real hook.

When did you last cry?

I constantly cry crocodile tears in the cinema and I get emotional — in a good way — with the people who work so hard for me. I think it’s a good sign if men can cry.

What trait do you least like in others?


What trait do you least like in yourself?

My stammer — I hate when that starts.

Do you pray?

Yes, when I need something.

What would cheer up your day?

A phone call from my old Blackrock College friends. I miss those guys.


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