Wednesday 28 September 2016

Fashion: Creative future... showcased at Brown Thomas

Constance Harris

Published 06/07/2015 | 02:30

Headpiece, €595, Aisling Ahern
Headpiece, €595, Aisling Ahern
Single earring €80, matching necklace €360, both Vivien Walsh

Create, Brown Thomas Dublin's annual event to celebrate Irish fashion design, kicks off this week.

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But Create for 2015 is about much more than earlier years, as Brown Thomas is getting behind the Design & Crafts Council's Year of Irish Design, working closely with its acting CEO Brian McGee, and launching, for the first time, Create pop-up shops in its Cork and Limerick branches.

This year, you will see the best of Irish design across many disciplines, from fashion to ceramics, linen and more.

"Being the Year of Irish Design, we have opened our doors to let everyone know about all the great things that are being created in Ireland," Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery says. "The store is under construction, so we brought forward the date from September to July, and it runs for seven weeks. It gives the designers and makers more time to meet the customers, learn about the business and, hopefully, grow."

A hugely important aspect of Create, apart from brands getting a chance to sell on the prestigious Brown Thomas shop floor, is that Shelly, and the Brown Thomas buyers, give time to all the designers and makers in the six months leading up to the event, sharing their knowledge of the international market, standards required, trends, etc.

"I don't think enough people are helping new designers. It is about consistency; supporting consistently, working consistently," Shelly says.

"What I watch out for all the time is the designers' and makers' ability to go forward into the retail world. Some are brilliantly talented, but if they don't understand the standard of work required and the demands, they will never break in."

There are 50 brands showing in Create 2015. Designers such as Vivien Walsh and Jill de Burca, whose work you can see on our pages, have created one-off, unique pieces for Create.

Kathy Murray, homewares buying director, had the mammoth task of liaising with the crafts and design people, from iconic companies such as Jerpoint and Foxford, to new names like Isobel Egan.

Kathy told me that they met with over 450 companies to create their final list of 50. Creative director John Redmond created the in-store visual support.

"We wanted to cover all the disciplines - to cater for all tastes, be it for wood, glass, stone, paper." Kathy says. "There is a bit more emotion to it when you feel a beautiful, hand-crafted object. There are stories behind the pieces. Some people call them craft, but I call them designers of international standard."

"Irish design needs its own identity," Shelly believes. "You don't want to compete with the big luxury brands. It is just too tough. What you want is to identify yourself as something unique."

Brown Thomas Create takes designers and makers to a new day.

Photography by  Sarah Doyle

Styling by Darren Feeney

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

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