Friday 23 June 2017

Editor's picks - head-to-toe comfort is key for Carolyn Donnelly

Coat, €129; sweater, €69; trousers, €89
Coat, €129; sweater, €69; trousers, €89
Liadan Hynes

Liadan Hynes

When Carolyn Donnelly first launched Carolyn Donnelly - The Edit, her clothing line for Dunnes Stores, the aim was to provide the perfect collection of wardrobe basics, mostly in a palette of black, navy, white and grey. Several seasons on, the line has expanded to include a full complement of wardrobe requirements, in an array of colours and prints each season.

Such is the extent of the range that Carolyn now wears only clothes she has designed. Initially, she says, she was reluctant to get back into designing clothes. Brought on board as creative director of Dunnes Stores, Carolyn, who for years designed Quin and Donnelly with Liz Quin, originally confined her design work for Dunnes Stores to her hugely successful homewares line, Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic.

Clothes are a different matter, she says. Everything has to sit together perfectly; any tiny detail that's off is maddening. Carolyn's finely-tuned eye leads to a collection that is full of thoughtfully cut garments, peppered with interesting details: exposed bright-red zips on classic black and white dresses; tapered legs on joggers that sit at just the right height above the ankle; knee-length jackets with a grown-up appeal; a blazer given a less formal twist with zip details on the sleeves, and a bow rather than a button.

"When I began this collection, it started off being quite tailoring-oriented," explains Carolyn. "But it didn't really work for me. I wasn't wearing tailoring, so I knew it wasn't where I wanted to go. It's more of a relaxed way of dressing for me."

This season's collection includes everything from casual jogger pants, and loose T-shirt-style dresses, to more formal pieces perfect for the office. Her signature relaxed-fit coats are now 100pc boiled wool; T-shirt blouses offer an alternative to a work shirt; the perfect tailored pants come in black, as well as blue and a pale-toffee shade.

What does Carolyn consider essential parts of the collection each season? "Great coats. It doesn't matter what you're wearing underneath, if you throw on a great coat, a bag, scarf and shoes. It's about having the right things."

She's adamant the range contains "nothing I wouldn't wear myself". That means nothing too girly, too obviously glamorous. "There's no way they're sweet," she says of her colour combinations, holding up a soft blue blouse with a pair of light-toffee-coloured trousers and a red jumper. "They're interesting, rather than just being conventionally boring," she says.

Head-to-toe comfort is key, with wearable shoe styles - ballet pumps and platform brogues are part of the collection. "You want to be distinctive; you want to be cool," reflects Carolyn.

The perfect wardrobe, designed by a woman with impeccable taste.

Photography by  James Gould

Words by  Liadan Hynes

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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