Sunday 11 December 2016

It's class with sass at the latest collection of Fiona Heaney's Fee G label

Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30

Dress, €305, Fee G. Shoes, €50, River Island Earrings, €65; bracelets, €25-€75; ring, €50, all MoMuse. Photo: Eilish McCormick.
Dress, €305, Fee G. Shoes, €50, River Island Earrings, €65; bracelets, €25-€75; ring, €50, all MoMuse. Photo: Eilish McCormick.

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. It can also be like a dog nipping at the heels, according to Fiona Heaney, designer of Fee G, who uses it as an impetus to keep evolving.

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"I myself, as a designer, have to keep the newness, otherwise there is no interest for me," Fiona says. "My main goal with spring 2016 was to bring newness to the collection with the fabrics, and to move away from the predictability of textured fabrics, like jacquards. So many people are doing them now. I want to move on. This season, we are using a lot of crepe, viscose mixes, jersey, silk and fine guipure lace. I have been working with mainly Italian mills, so the collection is quite Italian-inspired."

The Italian influence is clearly there; when I first saw the collection, it reminded me of that iconic photograph by Ruth Orkin, American Girl In Italy, taken in 1951. Apart from its 50s silhouette, Fee G has the free-spirited air of Ninalee Craig, the woman in that shot, walking through the streets of Italy and feeling the admiration of all the men.

The collection also reminds me of Grace Kelly, in the 1955 classic To Catch A Thief, dressed in the blush colours that Edith Head devised for her. Like Kelly's clothes in that film, there is a subtle sexiness about Fee G this spring.

"The collection has a feel that is younger and sexy, while still being very feminine and versatile," Fiona says. "I think there is a lovely freshness and newness about it. There is a lot of fluidity, say in the three-tone dress and the wide-leg trousers. There are fewer prints this season, but not less colour. We loved stripes, so they are a key theme throughout the collection."

Though Fee G is known for dresses, its separates are strong. This season features a very dramatic pair of wide-leg trousers, luxurious full skirts and pencil skirts, as well as lovely, coordinating boat-neck tops with bracelet sleeves and vest styles to be teamed with them.

"I designed full shapes in skirts - some with tiered hems, others with clever pleating - so that you get the fuller skirt without feeling frumpy," Fiona explains. "I think the tops we made for them make the look younger and sexier as well."

This is perhaps my favourite collection of Fee G's so far. I love the clean lines and fresh colours, the classiness of its femininity and its touch of sass.

I also love that not only do most of Fee G's clothes have pockets in them, but also they are hand-wash cool, which is a fortune saved on dry-cleaning bills.

"The term 'occasion wear' can be scary, in a sense. People can think 'fussy'," Fiona tells me.

"I design what I do because I have a need to wear something. We all have family gatherings, or with friends. You want to buy something new for it, and look good. Fee G is occasion wear without formality."

Photography by Eilish McCormick

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

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