IT all began with a cinched little black dress – in all but name - slipped on at the 11th hour four years ago.

Kieran McEleny was just 15 when he attended a Halloween party wearing a rather ill-fitting Beetlejuice costume.

His friend’s mother and host suggested he don a more flattering Wicked Witch dress instead.

This marked a turning point in the fashion-forward teenagers’ life. Soon he was scouring charity shops for womenswear, which he excitedly modelled for his close group of female friends.

With a sharp eye for aesthetics and fit, he started altering the garments, embellishing and hand-stitching each new detail.

“The Wicked Witch costume fitted me so well and it all started with this black dress really,” recalls the 19-year-old from Trowbridge.

“I started thinking ‘Why would I need to dress in men’s clothing?’ I had never liked the flowiness of men’s clothing. I liked the silhouette of fitted female clothing.

“I had always been interested in fashion and from the age of 12 I started watching videos of catwalk shows on YouTube. I was mesmerised.

“After a while I started altering the clothes. I wanted to make them unique. They were nice but they didn’t fit my personality. With a couple of my friends I started designing a few simple things, T-shirts, nothing too complicated.

“I found out around that time that my grandmother was a seamstress. She knew what it was like to make something that fit someone so magically.”

In March 2012, Kieran saved the money he had received for his 16th birthday and splurged on a large bolt of navy velvet. Intent on capturing quintessential femininity, he created his first dress, a pinafore.

“I spent some of the money on sweets and chocolates – like a teenager would,” he says with a laugh.

“But I bought a bolt of fabric with the rest. I paid £85. It was pretty plain and I had no experience. Lovely Google helped.”

“I was studying art at school but I had always wanted to find newer ways of doing things, and go down my own route,” adds the former Swindon Dance student.

“But at GCSE level they want you to follow the rules. We worked with paint and pencils but I wanted to look at textile. I rebelled. In art there are no rules.”

That year he entered a charity fashion show at his school, St Laurence in Bradford on Avon.

In spite of open prejudice and a degree of hostility, he strutted down the catwalk modelling his own creations, including a ball gown fashioned out of recycled clothing.

The ‘transvestite teenager’ as he has come to be described — a moniker he relishes — went to his prom sporting a hand-sewn shirt and black skirt; a corset completed his original design.

“It was difficult at school to start with, trying to establish myself and be myself.

“A lot of people said I shouldn’t be doing it.

“They didn’t respect my life choices.

“I used to hide it at first. I kept my women’s clothes in a sports bag in my cupboard.

“But I felt so confident wearing women’s clothes.

“I used to go out in the dark in the woods with friends and we would do photo shoots with a flashlight.

“We would pretend to do catwalks at home. It was an outlet. ”

He launched his website Diamond Days initially as a ‘porthole’ for his emerging collection of bespoke garments but soon the project grew as its own online retail platform.

Eager to perfect his technique, work with challenging materials and explore new forms of ‘visual expression’, his pieces grew in audacity and intricacy.

He went on to showcase his work at two further fashion shows at the Civic Centre in Trowbridge in 2013 and St James’s Church Hall in the town the following year.

“From there I got stuck in. I started looking at how to make corsets. It took a lot of practice, they are cumbersome to deal with. It’s like driving a car. It’s hard at first and then it all clicks.

“I have always been inspired by high end clothes, and haute couture. John Galliano is one of my biggest influences.

“I also admire Alexander McQueen, his high-end tailoring and structured pieces.”

After studying towards at Level 3 BTEC in dance at Swindon Dance – an art form which has informed his understanding of movement and design — Kieran has now enrolled in an art course at Wiltshire College. All the while, he is pursuing his fashion business.

“I struggled for a long time to express myself verbally and for me dance, like fashion, was a way to express myself visually.

“Dance has made me think about costumes. It was really interesting to see how different materials moved.”

While his striking designs have drawn interest mostly from female buyers, he has received some orders from the transvestite community.

No matter their background, each has sought a unique garment, impeccably tailored and unlike anything in the High Street stores.

“People want to be unique and I think a lot of the clothes available on the High Street are not what they’re really looking for. “I want people to feel alive in their own clothes, have this personal feel.

“If you buy something on the High Street you know 10 other people in town will have the exact same garment. I want to design something for everyone, but don’t want everyone to look the same.”

Marrying menswear and womenswear into his own day-to-day style, he will at times opt for a more feminine look as the mood takes him.

Although a champion for the transvestite community by the very nature of his fashion aspirations, Kieran insists he is not a vocal campaigner, simply a fledgling designer finding his own path in the world.

“I don’t seek people’s approval any more,” he explains.

“I will wear what I want to wear that day — it might be women’s clothes.

“I’m out there, open about what I do. I want people to know there are other lifestyles and styles out there but I won’t go out of my way to do it.

“Clothes are way to express yourself and fashion is one of the greatest things we have in this world.

“You can use it as armour; it can reflect your personality.

“I’m just doing what I love and I’m living my life.”

Get in touch with Kieran or place an order at