Wednesday 7 December 2016

Fashion... The Goodbye Girl

Constance Harris

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

Floral dress, €355, Tara Jarmon; ribbed polo-neck (worn underneath), €65, Ralph Lauren; bag, €355, Furla
Floral dress, €355, Tara Jarmon; ribbed polo-neck (worn underneath), €65, Ralph Lauren; bag, €355, Furla

When we meet each season to discuss the new trends, Deirdre Devaney, Arnotts's Director of Fashion, Beauty and Accessories, and I always seize the opportunity for a good chat around the industry. This year, we both were shocked at the demise of the Donna Karan label. Donna Karan founded the modern-woman's wardrobe.

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"It is a great loss to the industry," Deirdre says. "I mean, here we are in a season where the skinny-knit polo-neck sweater and bodies [where a sweater is joined to a brief] are key buys. She invented 'the body'! She was all about building your wardrobe to work for you. Now, people are into building their wardrobes again. Buying four or five pieces that are really great and hard-working."

Donna Karan's star rose in the 1980s, a time of another recession. Though we are supposedly out of ours, my feeling is that fashion is still in recession mode, and all about getting a length of time from your pieces.

"Psychologically, we are still there," Deirdre feels. "People who have lived through a recession will never make those mistakes again and spend madly.

"We are seeing definite upturns in the economy, but people are still being very considered about spending," she says. "They are still thinking in terms of investment. They want quality, not disposable, and quality is what Arnotts has always been about."

As a child of the 1970s, separates have always been my first love, and right now, we are living through a revival. Think chunky knitwear, embellished blouses, wide trousers, print dresses, scarves, sheepskin trims and so on. Arnotts has it all, and it is all beautiful.

"The dress is no longer the go-to for work wear," Deirdre tells me. "That is now falling to separates. More casual, laid-back, is where people are at. "Trends are very diverse this season," Deirdre explains. "Texture is key. Knitwear is huge, the cape is strong, trouser suits are making a big comeback, the coat is a big story - from little peacoats, to Crombies and floor-length coats."

Arnotts has some great, edgy, Scandi labels, such as 2ndDay, House of Dagmar, and the softer Day Birger Et Mikkelsen. It's also a go-to store for Irish designers; Caroline Kilkenny, Umit Kutluk, Emma Manley, Orla Kiely, Niamh O'Neill, Helen McAlinden, Peter O'Brien and Natalie B Coleman.

"We have made many changes on the floor," Deirdre says. "We have a younger customer, who likes relaxed but edgier looks. We take care of the working woman and our classic customer. We have brought in more brands from smart-casual to relaxed to chic. Wardrobe-building is a key service we offer on the floor; getting advice on how to do it, making your looks work for you. It represents great value, dressing like this. Versatility is key."

To fashion, to life.

Photography by  Sean Jackson

Styling by   Aisling Farinella

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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