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Monday 1 September 2014

EXCLUSIVE: "I still have brides asking for the 'Amy Huberman dress' from 2009!" - Joanne Hynes

One of Ireland's top designers sits down with Independent.ie to discuss her 15-year career, avoiding the high street like the plague and why Irish women can't wear white shirts

Freya Drohan

Published 04/07/2014 | 14:39

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Joanne Hynes pictured at the launch of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Marker Hotel. Photo: Anthony Woods
Joanne Hynes pictured at the launch of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Marker Hotel. Photo: Anthony Woods
Amy Huberman at the 2009 IFTAs in a Joanne Hynes dress
Amy Huberman at the 2009 IFTAs in a Joanne Hynes dress
Vogue McFadden

Joanne Hynes has dressed celebrities, fashion mavericks and noted business women in her 15-year career, and now she has a new client in mind: you.

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Daphne Guinness, Paloma Faith, Amy Huberman, Katherine Thomas and Laura Whitmore have all been fans.

As one of Ireland’s most prominent fashion designers, Joanne has a unique and interesting approach to finding your own personal style:

“Women know about the basics - it’s like hearing ‘you need to eat vegetables’ at a nutrition course - women don’t want it that simple.”

In a world full of fashion blogs, tv shows and magazines, anyone can find out what their wardrobe should be comprised of:

“Everyone says the white shirt, but Irish women wear fake tan and bronzer so they'll only end up with a huge dry cleaning bill,” Joanne laughs.

“I think with Irish women, the minimalist thing isn’t going to work as colour and texture are too ingrained in our identity.”

For this reason, the West of Ireland native says that the consultancy is more to help women find a conversational piece, new colours to suit them, or simply to draw out their confidence.

Originally intending to be a painter, Joanne went to art college in Limerick but found her calling when she discovered the fashion department:

“I didn’t realise that you could ‘do’ fashion. This was 1996/1997, so there was no fashion industry in Ireland back then.”

Having impressed buyers, Joanne was selling to retailers in Dublin, London and New York while still honing her talents as an undergraduate.

A Masters in the London’s renowned Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design followed, and Joanne's collection was selected to be the finale of the annual graduate show.

A life long fan of vintage, Joanne reflects on how the modern day shopping experience is worlds removed from the days she spent seeking out gems in Galway’s charity shops:

“I’ve been buying second-hand clothes since I was 10. Now the idea of style now is really prescriptive. There wasn’t as many high street options years ago so it forced you to be more creative. There wasn’t really particular trends either, so it was more underground and interesting.”

Speaking of trends - these are something Joanne avoids like the plague.

She says her designs are usually a “reaction” to trends: “I tend to see what’s on the high street and go the opposite way.”

She has a similar attitude towards style icons, insisting she would never look to emulate a celebrity’s look as she’s simply “not that organised”, but looks instead to prolific women of the American Jazz Age for inspiration.

Juggling her thriving fashion business (items have just been dispatched to ten new US stockists as we speak and online sales are booming) with her new styling venture, it is no surprise that shopping is not a priority for Joanne.

Not to mention the fact that she’s expecting a baby in September.

“I end up wearing a lot of my own stuff,” she says. “Jewellery and accessories are the lynchpin for me.”

Renowned for her quirky, inimitable personal style Joanne’s ethos is not to take things too seriously, and go with your instincts.

“When I was in Saint Martins I used to buy vintage and re-sell it at a higher price, so I have always had an eye for the right things.”

It is this instinctive eye that has earned her status as the go-to designer for women such as Daphne Guinness and Paloma Faith, and closer to home Amy Huberman, Katherine Thomas and Laura Whitmore.

“They always see something,and they get in contact, with Daphne it was an embellished waistcoat, with Paloma it was a belly top and sequin skirt that she put her stamp on.”

“Amy I met at a dinner party in The Merrion and we really hit it off. She came to my show and she fell in love with this dress. She wore the really special cream, crystalised dress to the IFTAs. That dress was so strong, we still have people asking for it, even a bride last week! It’s become the ‘Amy Huberman’ dress.”

Despite her popularity with high profile women, Joanne says that she does not design with celebrities in mind, nor any woman in mind for that matter.

“I tend to design my pieces first. Something is going to come out that’s very Joanne Hynes, and then that will attract people. I’m really happy with who has been wearing my designs so far.”

In this ilk, she also does not believe in an “ideal client” for her new personal styling project, instead aspiring to instill confidence in the women she works with.

“The service can be done in anyway the client wants and it can be tailored to each woman.The way I see it is having a conversation with people, getting to know them, it’s not about saying ‘you have to wear this’. It’s about trying to understand them, and making them not feel intimidated by fashion.”

Joanne says uptake for the “new arm of the business” has been really good so far, and she looks forward to empowering women by way of a sartorial transformation.

For more information, prospective clients can email info@joannehynes.com or call 086 6010942.

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