Design affair - a love for Irish designers
Sometimes people say to me that high fashion - meaning designer wear and the international catwalks - is just about prestige and money.
While there is an element of that, it is, of course, not that simple.
For most women who love designer fashion, it is not about the money it costs, nor even the high quality of its make-up, though that is very important. What matters to them is the vision of the designer behind the piece. I feel that the women who favour designer fashion have a kind of love affair going on with a designer's creativity, more than with the knowledge that it is an exclusive, expensive, coat, dress or whatever.
This is something that Marion Cuddy, owner of Marion Cuddy Irish Designers Emporium, on the top floor of the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Dublin, can testify to. Even on the day I spent the afternoon talking to her in her store, several women came in to chat to Marion about their favourite designer. It struck me that Marion had made her store a friendly place for women to pop into and participate in fashion.
"What I love most about this business is the feeling of a woman being really happy with something beautiful that she has bought, and feeling more confident," Marion says. "I love when they see themselves in the mirror and realise they look gorgeous, all as a result of a beautiful piece. That is the part of it I love."
Marion Cuddy Irish Designers Emporium is exclusively about Irish designers' work, be they living in London - as Tim Ryan, David O'Malley and Derek Lawlor are; to Kerry-based knitter, Gertrude Sampson; Limerick designer, Caroline Mitchell, and so on.
There is a broad mix of style in the store, which means it can't be typecast, and it will always surprise you.
There are several of Ireland's wonderful creatives, such as Richard Malone, Polina Yakobson, Rebecca Marsden and the aforementioned David O'Malley and Derek Lawlor. There are gorgeous tailored pieces by Natalie King, Hazel Comyn and Philippa Long. Around the store hang striking hats and headpieces by Margaret O'Connor and Rebecca Stevens. The flavour is undoubtedly grown-up.
"We are all about Ireland's newest, brightest and best designers," Marion tells me. "In selecting designers for the store, I make sure they fit our customer. Things have changed a lot in recent years; a lot more people want custom-made. Wonderful designers such as Derek Lawlor and David O'Malley will fly back from London and do special orders. We host evenings with designers such as Natalie King, who does beautiful tailoring. For me, it is all about the customer, giving her what she wants."
What the Marion Cuddy Irish Designers Emporium customer wants is uniqueness, to be more involved and personal - and to support home-grown talent to design another day.
Photography by Alex Hut
Styling by Courtney Smith
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine