Irish fashion: Homegrown talents
The hard-pressed shopper will not buy Irish out of pure loyalty, they want to be impressed on a number of levels: originality, design, price and durability.
This season, Irish designers have not only pared down their silhouettes to a 'Mad Men' look, but they have also trimmed their prices. This week, we take a look at some of the star performers who please on the hanger and on the bank statement.
Fee G's Fiona Heaney has worked with luxurious fabrics to produce a refined, ladylike collection full of stand-out-in-the-crowd pops of colour, including a purple and aqua coat and dress, and a bronze sequinned dress that shouts 'buy me for parties'.
The sophisticated collection echoes the 1950s retro styling we adored on the Prada and Louis Vuitton catwalks, and from every colour story you will find a number of separates, dresses and coats that build into a cost-efficient, capsule wardrobe.
Grainne Walsh brings extensive expertise to her new label, Ella Boo. The Dubliner -- who worked for Victoria's Secrets and DKNY in New York -- has featured some great shapes this season. They fit like a glove and are refined yet flirty. It's a powerful mix and just what you need when you are uncertain about what to wear .
Over at Fran & Jane, there are strong, sexy silhouettes for all times of the day. Our crush is the Leigh antique pink dress with embellished shoulders, a cool buy for €259. For those clinging to a black safety net, the good news is that this party look also comes in noir.
Amy Huberman is a fan of Matt Doody's headpieces and wore one to the RDS. The talented young man from Kerry is taking the brave step of opening up on his own, on September 15, next door to the Bow shop in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Dublin where he has attracted lots of loyal fans over the past year. He has decorated LBDs with chiffon bows and there will be tailored day-to-evening dresses, plus a wall full of amazing headpieces.
Fans of Mary Grant's trans-seasonal layered look and wardrobe-building investment pieces will welcome her departure into handknits with a luxe feel. She is big into customer feedback and you can meet the designer at Brown Thomas, Grafton Street on September 25.
Linda McDermott is the clever woman designing the Peruzzi label, which is manufactured in Italy for Irish women who have curves and doesn't mind showing them off. The look this season works around building blocks of white, black and red, with a super red coat for €109 that looks like pure wool, but is not.
High-glamour fans won't be disappointed by talented pals Kate & Ava, who have great occasion wear.
Dressy-up types and pearl fiends will be interested in the affordable new pieces from Paul Costelloe. The new additions to his jewellery collection won't arrive in the shops until next month, but today we have a preview of a fab ring that costs €125 and is known in the industry as a 'self buy'; in other words, you're worth it.
Knitwear is huge this season and if you are super sensitive to certain yarns, then check out Rachel Mackay's cashmere blends, which are delicious to touch. The same goes for the shearling leather aviator jacket from Helen McAlinden. It's an investment piece you will have for years and it costs €695 at No 6 in Market Arcade. It's also at Arnotts and House of Fraser.
On the handbag front, Louise O'Leary went to Italy to source 'green', ethical leathers for her Louloubelle range of bags and clutches. The Wicklow woman uses only non-toxic, vegetable-dyed leather and the bags are made up in Tuscan calf leather in an attractive palette of muted matt colours, including plum, antique rose, grey and evergreen. The shapes were inspired by a vintage find in a second-hand store in Paris.
Also on the Italian trail is Nina Divito, whose main collection of shoes and bespoke service at Brown Thomas is causing another frisson, especially the frilled Jenny style. My hard-working foot soldiers tell me that her new Giorgi sandals, made in satin with stretch lace, are the ultimate in comfort.
Pauric Sweeney flies the Irish flag in Florence, where he designs totally luxurious skins, and, closer-to-home, Orla Kiely in London continues to roll out her strong prints in bags and clothes.