Saturday 10 December 2016

Flashback 1962: Grace O'Shaughnessy showcases style

This week 53 years ago, model Grace O'Shaughnessy posed in the latest French fashion designs, showcasing the style of the time

Published 11/10/2015 | 02:30

Grace O'Shaughnessy wearing a tweed coat outside Arnotts department store, October 1962.
Grace O'Shaughnessy wearing a tweed coat outside Arnotts department store, October 1962.

The mannequins in the window may look disinterested, but this photo - from October 1962 - captures the style of the 1960s in Dublin as top Irish model Grace O'Shaughnessy posed in a glamorous tweed coat outside Arnott's department store in Henry Street, Dublin.

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The unveiling of the new garments was a big news story in the Irish Independent, which wrote: "As a result of a visit to Paris recently, two buyers from Arnott's came back with up-to-the-minute designs in coats and suits and some exclusive French fabrics for their store."

It emerged that the coats and suits, mostly made of lightweight tweeds and mohair, would be made in Dublin and sold under the St Cloud brand. The store also unveiled another range of tweed coats and suits in another new range, Glen Soolan, which featured the most popular colours that year - tan and black as well as various shades of green: lime, moss and olive. The coat shown above combined the three colours in a striking diagonal check.

The Irish Independent writer also pointed out that, due to the limited amount of material, no more than 20 garments in any one design and shade would be manufactured which, they reported, "in these days of mass production seems too good to be true". And the price range was also said to be reasonable, with garments starting at 12 guineas (just over €17).

O'Shaughnessy was one of the leading models of the 1960s, when designers Sybil Connolly, Ib Jorgensen and Nellie Mulcahy made Dublin an important fashion centre. In 1966, and by then working as a secretary in Lebanon, O'Shaughnessy was named as the 'Ideal Woman of Europe' in a contest held in Italy. The 26-year-old was selected to represent Ireland by a fashion magazine and she beat off her European rivals who were assessed over five categories - culture, cooking, sewing, mixing cocktails and elegance - as well as "general good looks". She later returned to Ireland, and set up a successful modelling agency, and had a long-running fashion slot on RTÉ's Live at Three programme in the 1970s and 1980s. She also worked for 10 years with Women's Aid.

Now 75, Grace has for several years been an ambassador for Third Age, a voluntary organisation dedicated to the well-being of older people. "It's a bit like the Samaritans for older people," Grace explained in a Sunday Independent interview in 2011.

"We run a senior helpline and suggest ways for them to integrate into the community, organise conversation classes with non-nationals, holidays, reflexology, chiropodist services, that kind of thing."

In 1962 Arnott's had been an important Dublin retailer for more than a century. Founded on Henry Street in 1843, it remains the oldest and largest department store in the city.

Irish Independent

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