The Diary - Jean-Pierre: Half Irish designer has it sown up
I breakfasted at London Fashion Week last Monday on virtual reality movies, melon sticks and talk of motorbike parts with leading fashion designer, Jean-Pierre Braganza.
Darling to the cool set, JPB honed his tailoring and draping skills with Victoria Beckham's VBF, Roland Mouret.
A decade after debuting his eponymous label at LFW, Jean-Pierre was a hit on the opening day of the AW15 shows. However, it was when we stopped to discuss his new Design Forum collaboration with high street brand River Island, that the Canadian designer took me by surprise when he announced, "I'm half Irish. My mum, Joan Scanlon, was from Fairview in Dublin."
Well, I really didn't see that one coming from the designer with the attractive, transatlantic drawl and smiling, brown eyes. So when he turned and declared, "And I have a great, successful cousin," I was full sure he was going to tell me it was style queen, Angela Scanlon... but I was wrong. "My cousin is the actor Emmet Scanlon, who used to be in Hollyoaks and now he is doing very well in Hollywood. I'm very proud of him and of my Irish roots," explained JPB, who says his mum keeps lots of Irish paraphernalia in their home, from shamrocks to shillelaghs.
Jean-Pierre joined Eudon Choi, Georgia Hardinge and Katie Eary as the latest burgeoning designer to collaborate with River Island's Womenswear Design Forum initiative. His 11-piece capsule collection, which went into stores this week, was inspired by a holiday in India where he was motorbiking in a tropical heaven with kingfishers flying at eye level.
He translated what he saw into an amazing print, which incorporates the kingfisher bird with the robust silver lines of the motorbike engine and the coiling, heat system that resembles human anatomy, all transferred to fabric for the collection. It launched via a short fashion film at the British Fashion Council's 'Fashion Film' event, where I met JPB with Josie Roscopp, marketing director of River Island, dressed in one of his digital print jumpsuits.
Meanwhile, Irish designer Zoe Jordan was in excellent form, if a little jet-lagged, when I called by Somerset House to say hi to her.
Zoe was born in Dublin's Coombe Hospital before her Formula One dad, Eddie, and Terenure basketball international mum, Marie, took off with their kids on the motorsport circuit.
Living in Notting Hill, Zoe's design studio is at Chelsea's Rossetti Studios - historically famous for being the house of many famous photographers and models, including Twiggy, who used to work there in the 60s.
Zoe's decision to quit LFW for a few seasons to show in New York has paid off. Her AW15 collection was very well received in NYC and she has inked a deal with Saks of Fifth Avenue and is also talking to other big stores.
Zoe and her husband, Steve Aspinall, finished their NYC trip by seeing their friend, Sienna Miller, on her opening Broadway night in Cabaret, taking over from Emma Stone at Studio 54.
"Sienna was really great. I've known her for years and we are both godmothers to our friend's child," explained Zoe, whose luxury clothes are sold at Havana in Donnybrook and Emporium Kalu in Naas.
SXSW send off for Enda and co
Looks like Taoiseach Enda Kenny won't be the only one heading over to well-known Indie festival South by Southwest (SXSW) next month. A contingent of Irish musicos and hipsters, including Walking on Cars, BP Fallon, Buffalo Sunn, Fight Like Apes, James Vincent McMorrow, and Le Galaxie, are also jet setting over to Austin.
US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley, threw a shindig for the performers in his Elgin Road digs this week. "It's a South by Southwest send off," O'Malley explained. "We want Irish musicians to connect with American musicians."
Sounds simple enough.
After all the speeches, I began chatting to experimental electronic rock band Meltybrains. "We've been to Austin before," one of the crew told me. "It's an uh-mazing city."
Having listened to several "what happens on tour, stays on tour" stories, I made my way back into town to the launch of the Saint Patrick's Day Festival in Trinity College's Dining Hall. Minister of Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Michael Ring gave an impassionate speech about floats and marching bands, while Lord Mayor Christy Burke pottered about.
"By God we have plenty to be proud of!" Ring exclaimed.