Saturday 21 October 2017

Carraig Donn: Catch a lift

Aisling wears:
Top, €34.95, Vila;
jeggings, €34.95, Vero
Moda; bag, €39.95,
Eternal, all Carraig Donn.
Shoes, €19, Penneys; Niamh wears:
Dress, €120, Daisy May;
ring, €20, J’aime la Vie,
all Carraig Donn.
Shoes, €19, Penneys
Aisling wears: Top, €34.95, Vila; jeggings, €34.95, Vero Moda; bag, €39.95, Eternal, all Carraig Donn. Shoes, €19, Penneys; Niamh wears: Dress, €120, Daisy May; ring, €20, J’aime la Vie, all Carraig Donn. Shoes, €19, Penneys
Aisling wears: Cardigan, €39.95: jeans, €34.95, both Vila; top, €14.95, Vero Moda, all Carraig Donn. Niamh wears: Dress, €59.95, J’aime la Vie, Carraig Donn
Niamh wears: Cardigan, €39.95; blouse, €29.95; jeans, €39.95, all Vila, Carraig Donn. Wedges, €17; sunglasses, €3, both Penneys Aisling wears: Dress, €59.95; bangles, €20, both J’aime la Vie, Carraig Donn. Wedges, €15; sunglasses, €3, both Penneys
Dress, €69.95, J’aime la Vie, Carraig Donn. Wedges, €15, Penneys

Constance Harris

Although summer fashion season in Ireland tends to mean occasionwear for mothers of the bride and such, I, like a lot of women, struggle to find nice day-to-day clothes.

You know, pretty, on-trend, functional clothes that show you are on top of the fashions but that also serve your busy needs. The spring/summer season, though not always warm in this country, lasts from February through to August, in terms of society, colour and stock. So one does need to sort out one’s wardrobe.

I have often written about how I feel let down by Dublin city stores who focus on high fashion for the leisure class and not so much on the majority — women with hard-working, family-orientated lifestyles. They also tend to buy smaller sizes (6-12), ignoring the fact that the majority of women wear size 14. Further, many women are a size 16 and 18 but do not consider themselves ‘plus sizes’ and in the domain of size 18-30-plus shops.

The best workers in my wardrobe have often been found in country fashion boutiques that buy for practical women with a love of style. Carraig Donn is a family business, founded in Mayo by Patrick Hughes, which is making inroads in the cities as well as regional towns and shopping centres, catering for the lifestyle issues and needs I have outlined.

We used to associate Carraig Donn with traditional Irish knits, but in the past 10 years the company has been making a dedicated effort to crack the fashion market. In the past two years it has succeeded. I popped into its store in Swords Pavilions and was truly impressed by the array of styles, prices and sizes. J’aime la Vie, Carraig Donn’s own exclusive, French-designed collection has the input of head buyer Anne Harrison, so it is tailored to Irish needs.

“Irish women love to look fashionable, chic and elegant and they adore colour,” Anne says. “This season is fabulous for colour. But price has become a defining issue, so we have worked hard to bring our prices down, in line with what people can afford, without compromising on style and fabulousness.”

Carraig Donn’s buy is boutique influenced, aimed at the 30-plus market, but younger women are in there, too, as it has Vila and Vero Moda, as well as Rise and Darling. It also stocks Peruzzi and Daisy May, while its own label, Voulez-Vous, is designed for the active older woman who seeks comfort and colour.

This season, key buys are Sixties mini dresses, vintage-inspired lace pieces, coloured cropped skinny jeans, and pretty prints — florals, polka dots and stripes.

Photography by Daniel Holfeld, Styling by Courtney Smith.

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