Sunday 4 December 2016

Capital style - Dublin Fashion Festival kicks off

Beating New York, London, Paris and Milan to the off, the Dublin Fashion Festival kicks off next month with a full calendar of events, putting the focus on the rich style-offering in the capital, writes our Fashion Editor.

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

Beige suede coat, €299, H&M Studio; embroidered dress, €99.99, Zara; grey suede over-the-knee boots, €280, Nine West, Arnotts
Beige suede coat, €299, H&M Studio; embroidered dress, €99.99, Zara; grey suede over-the-knee boots, €280, Nine West, Arnotts
Tweed coat, €1,650, floral dress €1,750, both Dolce & Gabbana, Brown Thomas; black patent boots, €205, Kurt Geiger, Brown Thomas
Dublin Festival of Fashion Grey wool coat, IKKS at Arnotts €425 Brocade Top, Rochas at Costume, €750 Silver pleated skirt, Zara €49.95 Pink patent boots, River Island €65 Photo by Barry McCall

I'm a true Dub and I love nothing more at weekends than walking around my hometown, doffing my cap at the historic landmarks and spotting creative fashion talents of the future.

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I have an affinity to the Christchurch 'hood as my late dad had a chocolate factory on Castle Street, and - call me sentimental - but I like mooching around that end of Temple Bar, up beside Fishamble Street where Handel had the good taste to première his Messiah masterpiece in 1742.

Talk about doffing your hat, milliner John Shevlin is a style king in this area, and he accepts orders for bespoke hats for men and women at Cow's Lane Designer Studio. Well worth a visit between your Viking excursions and walk past Anna Livia.

My fashion reconnoitres usually curl past The Gutter Book Shop, such a fabulous resource for those of you chasing down books on the arts, travel and fashion, and around the corner, you find the imposing City Hall, our choice for our Dublin Festival of Fashion (DFF) shoot.

Tweed coat, €1,650, floral dress €1,750, both Dolce & Gabbana, Brown Thomas; black patent boots, €205, Kurt Geiger, Brown Thomas
Tweed coat, €1,650, floral dress €1,750, both Dolce & Gabbana, Brown Thomas; black patent boots, €205, Kurt Geiger, Brown Thomas

High-end and high street, it's all there in our shoot, which award-winning photographer Barry McCall conducted under the magnificent dome of the City Hall's Rotunda. Its 12 pillars are surrounded by an 'ambulatory' where, from the 1780s onwards, the city's merchants apparently used to stroll and discuss business.

If only those 12 Portland stone pillars that our model Teo leaned against so stylishly could speak, what tales they could tell of the capital's commercial shenanigans from yesteryear.

Given its history as a hub for commercial life in the city, it was entirely appropriate that City Hall was the location for the launch of the seventh annual DFF - which this year runs from September 5-11 with a brace of high production shows, catwalk pop-ups on the streets, and a raft of free events and make-overs packed into the week-long schedule.

Watching the upbeat fashion crowd gather at City Hall last week, it was abundantly clear that the whole fashion scene in the capital is enjoying positive, innovative times again, and the creativity quotient is soaring vertically.

From high street to high-end, vintage shops to the small independent boutiques where everyone knows your name, the capital is buzzing with a hunger for creative newness balanced with a respect for what went before it. Hipster cool or shabby chic, call it what you will, but Dublin's cool cats are comfortable in their skin and mix their Balenciaga with vintage, local heritage and retro finds. No room for snobbery in this city, and it is a badge of honour to mix your recently-seen-in-Vogue designer number with Penneys accessories and a high-street top.

Sure, isn't that what foreigners love about Dubliners and their truth in fashion - "Oh this, it cost a fiver at Penneys!" Wait until they see the metallic brocade suit landing at the end of next month (see page 23), which costs a total of €48. I call it the 'Breege O'Donoghue suit' because Primark's most senior female executive, who retires this autumn after 37 years, has worn it with aplomb at several key events this summer, and has triggered unprecedented love for this suit amongst women half her age - but then, that's what unashamed passion for fashion is all about. It's ultra democratic and Dubliners display it ins spades.

Dublin Festival of Fashion Grey wool coat, IKKS at Arnotts €425 Brocade Top, Rochas at Costume, €750 Silver pleated skirt, Zara €49.95 Pink patent boots, River Island €65 Photo by Barry McCall
Dublin Festival of Fashion Grey wool coat, IKKS at Arnotts €425 Brocade Top, Rochas at Costume, €750 Silver pleated skirt, Zara €49.95 Pink patent boots, River Island €65 Photo by Barry McCall

Darren Kennedy, the first male face of the DFF, sponsored by Galaxy this year, is a local boy who cultivated his eye for fashion into a career as a stylist; he has also developed his own menswear brand with Louis Copeland.

Darren will MC the Creative Quarter fashion show at the Powerscourt Centre on Friday, September 9 at 8pm. It aims to promote fashion fever fixes from stores, boutiques and vintage stores in the Creative Quarter, which fits in perfectly as South William Street was formerly the home to Ireland's wholesale rag-trade business.

There are free on-street fashion shows daily at 12 and 5pm, Thursday to Saturday, on Grafton and Henry Street.

The Young Designer of the Year Award and Fashion Event is being held on Wednesday, September 7 outside College Green, is invite only. Other free events include the Kids Fashion Show, Sunday, September 11 from 1pm-3pm at the Ilac Shopping Centre.

Perambulating my way back home after visiting Emily Quinn's 'Bring it All Back Home' free-to-enter exhibition of photographs of fashion designers and their clothes at Powerscourt Centre, I pass by Merrion Square and nod across to its famous son, Oscar Wilde.

Oscar's signature sartorial style is captured brilliantly in a statue in his memory sitting across from the house where he was born. I'll leave the last words to Oscar. "You can never be overdressed or overeducated."

Photographer: Barry McCall, assisted by Steve Gallagher and Anita Bitencourt

Stylist: Sinead Keenan

Model: Teo Sutra, 1st Option

Make-up: Judy Wong, No7

Hair: Joe Hayes, Toni & Guy

Venue: City Hall

For more information and the latest news, including fashion shows, in-store events and booking information, visit Dublin Fashion Festival's website (dff.ie) or follow it on Facebook (facebook.com/DublinFashionFestival), Twitter @DublinFashion or Instagram @DublinFashion

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