Kalu's cure for the summertime blues
Naas boutique gives a masterclass in quality, sensuality and beauty for our warmer days, says Constance Harris
In his poem, The Seasons, William Morris wrote of summer, "prithee take it not amiss, though I weary thee with bliss".
It is a curious effect of summer -- we get a kind of exhaustion, not just from the heat, but also from the long hours of daylight and being up and about more.
I have always noticed, too, the "summer wearying" effect with regards to summer fashions: they always strike me as "faddy" and less substantial than autumn or winter.
Summer is also the fashion season that women most complain -- about not being able to find anything that suits them. Therefore, we don't tend to feel good in summer fashions.
Which is why I offer you today the most elegant fashion show I have attended in Ireland in the past year -- to remind you that summer wear can be beautiful and comfortable.
On a wet and windy morning, Emporium Kalu of Naas gave a masterclass on how femininity can be done in summer.
Owners Kate O'Dwyer and Louise Flanagan have always been the most deliciously feminine buyers.
Ever since they opened Emporium Kalu, they have been delighting women with their focused fashion aesthetic that is unlike anything you will find anywhere else in Ireland. It is a point of pride with them.
"We have always been a grown-up look. Womanly. Feminine," Kate told me. "We are always about the details that make something special."
I see Emporium Kalu and the way Kate and Louise buy as being sensual, rather than sexy. Therefore, one always feels comfortable and at ease in the clothes, as well as feeling very beautiful.
"We are also about the unique. We search for different labels, special pieces," Kate explained. "And even if we have a label that might be stocked somewhere else, we buy it differently. We buy it with the Emporium Kalu attitude. So it is always different to what you will find elsewhere."
Emporium Kalu has been around for nearly 15 years and so the girls have fantastic know-how on what customers want. And what they want, according to Kate, is uniqueness, quality and beauty.
"We are feeling optimistic," Kate told me at their show. "We've cut our cloth and we are still around.
"We're still about beautiful pieces because there are still people who appreciate the special and unique.
"The first year or two, people at the high end of the market weren't buying. But now I feel people know where they stand and they are back buying special pieces again."
I also have noticed that age is not an issue in Kalu. They buy what they like and give women of all ages the room to step into what they adore.
"Most women like coverage as they get older," Kate told me. "But it is very personal to each woman and we respect that."
Having just returned from New York, where women in their 50s and 60s with great legs, showed them off in cute city shorts suits, I can see no reason why women here of a similar age can't flash those pins in M Missoni's cute, little mini-skirt suits.
Over two floors, Emporium Kalu stocks a fabulous variety of labels: Giles, Galliano, Versus, Tibi New York, Mantu, Catherine Dean, Maria Grachvogel, Alice by Temperley, Gabriele Colangelo, Libelula, M Missoni, Vivienne Westwood Red Label, D&G and Roisin Linnane.
Accessories are evocative -- such as obis by Helen James, jewellery by Melissa Curry, hats by Edel Ramberg, shoes by Nina Di Vito, Robert Clergerie, Bloch and L'autre Chose.
Kalu is not about this season's trends such as colour blocking, or utility.
It is about the new, high-end designer, aesthetic for serene, simple design, stunning quality fabrics and subtle colour.
"Over the years we have liked clothes with a bit of costume drama. And feminine colours and prints. But that has changed in recent years.
"We really fell for Maria Grachvogel's long look. It's so elegant and classy, so beautiful. A lot of women are going for it as an alternative bridal look."
Emporium Kalu has a huge cross-section of looks and lifestyles, from the conceptual and edgy to the hourglass and sexy a la Mad Men, to downtime and cosy. There is a lot to discover.
Emporium Kalu is the only shop in Ireland that really does femininity and summer fashion in a way that works.
Photography: Colette McNally, Halo Photography
Styling: Louise Flanagan of Emporium Kalu
Hair: Frances and staff at Scissors, Naas.
Make-up: Rebecca O’Sullivan
Models: Assets Models
All clothes and accessories featured, unless otherwise stated, are from Emporium Kalu, 16 South Main St, Naas, Co Kildare, telephone: (045) 896 222
Sale continues at Emporium Kalu, sale prices as shown. Some items are not in sale, prices remain as is
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