Monday 26 September 2016

Fashion: Glam girls at Dirty Fabulous

Constance Harris

Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30

1950s dress with rhinestone detail, €310, Dirty Fabulous. Shoes (not in shot), €187.95, Hogl, Cinders. Vintage Chinese-opera headpiece, stylist's own.
1950s dress with rhinestone detail, €310, Dirty Fabulous. Shoes (not in shot), €187.95, Hogl, Cinders. Vintage Chinese-opera headpiece, stylist's own.
1960s ruched prom dress, €360, Dirty Fabulous. Court shoes (not in shot), €89.95, Kardashian Kollection, Cinders. Indian festival headpiece, stylist's own.
1950s satin-and-tulle prom dress, €310; Bespoke ceramic unicorn-horn headpiece, €220; 1950s earrings, €130, Kramer; Pom-pom shoe-clips, €35, all Dirty Fabulous. Court shoes, €18, Penneys
1950s taffeta wedding dress, €850; Bespoke floral headpiece, €260, both Dirty Fabulous. Satin shoes (not in shot), €189, Rainbow Club, Cinders.
1960s ruched prom dress, €360, Dirty Fabulous. Court shoes (not in shot), €89.95, Kardashian Kollection, Cinders. Indian festival headpiece, stylist's own.
1950s dress with rhinestone detail, €310, Dirty Fabulous. Shoes (not in shot), €187.95, Hogl, Cinders. Vintage Chinese-opera headpiece, stylist's own.

Vintage store Dirty Fabulous is an emporium devoted to early-to-mid-20th-Century American fashion. These are the former clothes of American heiresses, society belles, matrons and mavens. They are luxurious, colourful, sometimes bejewelled, and always utterly glamorous and feminine.

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Founded in 2007 by Monaghan sisters Caroline Quinn and Kathy Sherry, their aim was to satisfy a before now uncatered-for customer - the woman who loves to look truly beautiful in a retro, feminine and unique way. This was before Mad Men inspired us all.

"We started the business because we were obsessed with vintage," Caroline tells me, as we browse the rails of their first-floor premises on Wicklow Street, in Dublin. "We would go abroad and visit every single vintage store in a city. Paris was all black dresses, black dresses, though they love their labels. In Berlin, it was very casual; great for 1970s and 80s. But not for the 40s and 50s, because of the war - stuff didn't survive."

"We loved American vintage, and no one in Ireland was really doing what we loved; party dresses, girly - 1950s prom dresses," Caroline explains. "There was a total lack in the market. So we went to America, and that was it for us."

American fashion up until the 1970s was utterly different to what Europe wore. Though they experienced the Great Depression, generally the USA did not suffer the kind of deprivations Europe did as a result of two great wars. Life, especially society life, went on, and flashing the cash in the form of beautiful women's occasion wear was de rigueur.

"People will remember an aunt, a relation in America, sending home a dress, and it will have been nothing like what they were wearing at the time in Ireland," Caroline explains. "Life in America was more fun, they had more money, they went to more parties; it was a different experience to what people were living at the same time in Ireland."

American party life is the stuff of Dirty Fabulous, and is why it is a stunning alternative option for debs, occasion wear and bridal wear. They cater for everyone, from women getting married, to mother of the bride, to the young and shy things looking for a dress for their debs that will make them look beautiful, and that isn't sexualised.

It's good even for gift ideas, as there are oodles of vintage cashmere cardis, bags, gloves and hats, as well as hairpieces and belts that Caroline creates using vintage jewels.

From experience with a friend who was a bride, an invaluable aspect of the Dirty Fabulous ethos is that customers must make an appointment, for which they get an hour of expert advice and service. The gals encourage the taking of lots of pictures, especially by brides, (unlike some bridal shops) so that people can be sure that they 'love' their look.

Fabulous.

Photography by  White Tea

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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