Wednesday 18 October 2017

Being bold - Helen McAlinden's SS16 collection

Bold stripes are a major trend for SS16, and in the hands of Irish designer Helen McAlinden, they take on a striking quality, writes our Fashion Editor

Helen McAlinden strapless navy and white bold stripe evening dress, €750, helenmcalinden.ie
Helen McAlinden strapless navy and white bold stripe evening dress, €750, helenmcalinden.ie
Tan faux suede skirt €175, black long sleeved cotton body, €75.
Blue linen faux bow wrap skirt, €195.
Full skirted navy and white gingham belted dress, €265.
Tan faux suede jacket with waterfall neckline and belted tie, €235.
Navy draped sleeved jumpsuit, €250.
White cowl neck top, €80, navy and white striped drindle skirt, €195 worn with faux suede belt, €85.
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

The 'crush factor' is a major downside when it comes to packing for events out of town. Recently, I had a wedding to attend abroad, and while I packed sensibly, and swaddled my silk guna in tissue paper as per expert advice, I never factored in the annoying humidity which turned our outfits, and hair, into a sorry mess.

As fate would have it, the day I returned, I discovered what I should have brought as I explored the rails of Helen McAlinden's SS16 collection. The Irish designer who launched her own label 15 years ago, is using a fluid Asian polyester which has the look, and handle, of a silky blend and which literally does not crease.

Intrigued, I crumpled up the fabric and held it in a sustained fist for five to ten seconds, but it resisted defiantly and sprang back into action, looking smooth and unwrinkled. This fabric blend is so efficient, Helen has used it in a number of her new offerings, including the dramatic, strapless, full skirted dress (pictured above).The same fabric features in her softly draped drindle-style skirt (below), comfy yet ultra smart with a white cowl tee.

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White cowl neck top, €80, navy and white striped drindle skirt, €195 worn with faux suede belt, €85.

White cowl neck top, €80, navy and white striped drindle skirt,  €195 worn with faux suede belt, €85

Surveying the full collection at Helen's South William Street store, I appreciated the efficiency of her slimmed down colour edit which goes together like building blocks.

iw gingham dress.jpg
Full skirted navy and white gingham belted dress, €265.

Full skirted navy and white gingham belted dress, €265

The influence for this collection came from iconic American sportswear designer Claire McCardell, who was well known in the 1930s-1950s, and Helen's navy and white gingham dress (above) really catches that retro vibe.

Playing with stripes and spots, Helen has also given linen a fresh feel in a striking denim hue. For thrown on glamour, there's a generous overshirt which looks cool with a plain tee and leggings. Another option is the collarless shirt dress with pretty pockets details and loose tie at the waist, and there's also cute skirt with bow tie at the front.

This problem solver also comes in a toffee faux suede fabric, which I particuarly love, because I used to be that soldier who spent a fortune getting luxurious suedes dry-cleaned. Suede is too high maintenance for me and frankly, I much prefer Helen McAlinden's alternative.

Irish Independent

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