Designed to last: Stylish homegrown bargains
Buy Irish for style, quality and value, says Bairbre Power
No one can afford to be sentimental or nationalistic just for the sake of it. However, surveying the wealth of Irish-designed clothes available in shops and small boutiques right now, one thing is glaringly apparent: survivors in the rag trade have all honed their collections, making them extra-wearable and more affordable.
Quality hasn't suffered at the hands of production and the choice out there is breathtaking -- everything from casual-smart to full-on glamorous, and a little daytime chic thrown in for good measure.
There's no shortage of new names coming on to the scene, a bright bunch of hopefuls with vision and drive. I'm name-checking Emma Manley here because I think she is a talent to watch. Her collection is full of contradictions: hard and soft, urban street cred with romantic femininity, strong lines with rugged fabrics. She has a get-to attitude which shouts from the pages of her lively website (www.manley.com).
Long-term favourites don't disappoint this season either. Quin & Donnelly are particularly strong on coat/dress combinations and easy-wear separates and knitwear. At a time when so many mums are looking for Holy Communion and Confirmation outfits that they can wear again and again after the big day, Q&D's quirky yet smart separates work a treat. See www.quinanddonnelly.com or call 01-806 8560 for a list of stockists.
Fiona Heaney's latest collection for Fee G is flirty and girly, using lace and super fabrics in uplifting colours.
In a season where block colours in jewel and primary colours grab the headlines, Fiona's palette is softer but equally as punchy, with warming corals and sunshine-filled yellows.
Like Q&D, Fee G excels at dressy coat/dress combinations that work am/pm, and the 'inside' dresses come in a variety of cuts in order to suit different body shapes.
Heidi Higgins' visibility in the fashion world increased after her personal win in the Best Dressed Lady competition at Punchestown last April. Arnotts, who sponsored the competition, liked her soft-tailored style, and, impressed by her stand-out-in-the-crowd clothing, placed an order.
The collection is now available at Arnotts' Henry Street store and also at Heidi's studio and boutique at 27 Church Street, Portlaoise (057 868 9027; www.heidi higgins.com).
Her spring/summer collection features some 'grown-up' coats and dresses which have a whiff of Jackie O, 1960s-style glamour. The tailored silhouette captures your attention, and then your eyes feast on the the fabulous fabrics and vibrant wool blends.
After training with Louise Kennedy, Heidi has achieved a handwriting that is timeless and feminine.
If you love the quirky blue hat that goes with Heidi's dress, it comes from the hand of up-coming milliner Mark T Burke from Loughrea. Tel: 087 631 4778 or see his website, www.marktburkemillinery.com. You can order his pieces from Heidi Higgins or directly from the man himself.