Sunday 11 December 2016

Designer Lya Solis is leading Ireland's return to haute couture

Constance Harris

Published 20/07/2015 | 02:30

Dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
Dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
FASHION
Dress, €849, Lya Solis
Fur collar, €459; cape, €999; dress, €1,299, all Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
Embellished dress, €899, Lya Solis
Cape, €999; dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara

Haute couture and bespoke dressmaking are markets that suffered hugely during the recession.

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Designers such as Richard Lewis, Jen Kelly and Niall Tyrrell proved their tenacity and ability in surviving the tough years, and are still producing great work today.

As you can imagine, in such a climate, any new or young designer would find it tough to start up, let alone compete with the more established names.

And yet, a few brave souls did. Lya Solis was one.

Fur collar, €459; cape, €999; dress, €1,299, all Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
Fur collar, €459; cape, €999; dress, €1,299, all Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara

Read more: B**ch stole my look: Kendall Jenner wears Kim inspired plunging white top

With a degree in fine art, Lya hails from Moscow and came to live in Ireland 13 years ago. She worked in marketing for several years, including while she was at the Grafton Academy, from where she graduated in 2009.

Two years later, in 2011, Lya began designing her own collection, opening a store in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Today, she has that store and an atelier at 34 Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2. This is where I meet her, to view her pre-fall collection of luxury day and evening clothing.

Luxury is clearly Lya's thing. Her studio and fitting room (Georgian rooms, lined with tall, gilded mirrors) are filled with softest cashmere, fine leathers, fine silk-crepe and striking, richly embellished lace.

Dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
Dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara

"In Russia, I studied sculpture when I did fine art. I love working with my hands and so I suppose that explains why I love working so much with lace," Lya tells me. "You can make and do so many things with lace - I soon found that it was my thing."

Like a lot of designers of luxury bespoke, Lya's collection develops throughout the year.

"Nature inspires me, especially in Ireland. I love all the ivy. I love floral and leafy patterns. You can see a lot of it in my current collection," she says. "I did have a period when my work was more urban, inspired by cities and houses and things, but it got boring pretty quickly. Nature is unlimited."

Read more: WATCH: Five looks we loved at Brown Thomas' Autumn/Winter '15 show

Dress, €849, Lya Solis
Dress, €849, Lya Solis

Lya's latest collection consists of 15 pieces; four silk-crepe dresses for day; a striking cashmere cape with, or without a fur collar; two styles of softest-leather trousers; and several delicious embellished-lace evening dresses and blouses.

Lya tells me she has a passion for fashion and I can see it in the striking ensembles on our pages today. Her work is a little Alexander McQueen in feel, except that he wouldn't have designed so much softness and femininity.

"My look is tailored, but not classic," Lya says. "I love the element of it looking like it was specially made for someone, not made in bulk in a factory. Every piece in my collection is special, unique."

The Lya Solis collection is edgy yet very definitely feminine; youthful, yet flattering, a welcome addition to our luxury fashion scene.

Embellished dress, €899, Lya Solis
Embellished dress, €899, Lya Solis

Photography by  Alex Hutchinson

Styling by Courtney Smith

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

Cape, €999; dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara
Cape, €999; dress, €1,299, Lya Solis. Sandals, €35.99, Zara

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