Irish Designers: On the home front
It was uplifting to see so many people proactively seeking out Irish products for Christmas gifts, but will the 'green card' continue into the spring/summer 2012 fashion season?
There's no cause to complain about lack of vision or fresh innovation from Irish designers, some of whom are introducing new sister ranges in the coming weeks to offer customers a wider choice.
When Mary Portas, Queen of Shops, was in Dublin on the hunt for newness, she was directed on Twitter to Bow, in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre.
It's the go-to destination for the irrepressible Eilis Boyle, whose cashmere pieces are glorious gifts to self, starting at €85 for snug arm warmers.
A lateral thinker in an industry unfortunately besotted with knock-offs, Eilis excels at designing for the alternative bride, and her silver lace dress is styled here with a contemporary cape from Deirdre Wear.
Did it take Lanvin last season to wake us up to the comfort factor offered by the traditional Irish capelet?
As the fashion world obsesses on nostalgia, we have true gems in our native DNA; heritage pieces that vault the decades -- such as a Jimmy Hourihan tweed coat. It delivers strong, film-noir femininity when teamed with an aubergine felt fedora from milliner-to-watch Wendy Louise Knight.
She makes to order at her studio in Newtownforbes, Co Longford, and prices start at €180. Bonzie Designs in Waterford delivers romantic vintage with a twist.
Yvonne Crotty and Ger McDonald juxtapose prim Victorian-style lace with diaphanous peach tulle, and the result is not just feminine and whimsical but also very sexy.
They've twinned broderie Anglaise with salt 'n' pepper tweed in a cut-away skirt, akin to the Côte d'Azur preoccupation with tiered denim and lace.
Prices are appealing, too, at €190 for a long top/short dress, or €120 for a top.
Bonzie's black, beaded cuffs -- which have the power to transform a black outfit -- start at €65 on the website, bonziedesigns.com.
Fiona Heaney's Fee G label does glamorous day-to-night occasion wear. There's always a jacket or dress to match, and this season, she has some super jacquard prints and interesting fabric blends.
I'm excited about her new label, Luke Lovely, which delivers that casual-chic concept women crave, especially for weekend dressing.
It will be launched next month, so watch this space.
In the meantime, Eilis launches a new knitwear label at Showcase in the RDS tomorrow.
She was inspired to eulogise our 'hidden heroes' hand knitters, fusing that legacy with ideas from a new generation of young designers.
Expect to see lots of pattern and texture.