Stylish Clerys steps back on to the fashion catwalk
THERE were people who thought they might not see this again – a fashionable model posing on the steps of Clerys' iconic grand, sweeping staircase, promoting spring/summer 2014.
Recession and a flood couldn't bring down the legendary store, one of the oldest department stores in the world. And in fairness to its original designer, Robert Atkins, who also designed Selfridges, the O'Connell Street building withstood the impact of 400,000 gallons of water when the sprinkler system erupted last summer, closing it down for four months.
At the store's fashion show yesterday it was clear from the styling by Sinead Keenan that amongst all those classic brands like Windsmoor, Crea Concept, Jacques Vert, Planet and Magee, there's lots to impress the contemporary dresser too.
The irony at the fashion showcase held in Clerys' famous Tea Rooms was that the message coming through loud and clear from a store steeped in retail history is all about newness and providing a point of difference to go with its likeable facelift.
There are subtle touches like lighting that showcases the clothes but not the gangways where customers walk. The array of new brands in fashion, accessories, handbags and cosmetics proved a head turning experience.
The clothes shown yesterday also represented a good take on what women want from their wardrobe, namely clothes that cover work, weekend and occasion wear.
And before you scream heritage, and how your granny met your grandfather under Clerys' clock, rest assured, the baby has not been thrown out with the bath water in the refurbished store.
"We have brought into the store in excess of 15 new fashion brands, our primary objective has been to bring in new brands that don't exist across Dublin, brands that have an Irish link, so that we have a uniqueness about our store, and that we are not a store that just replicates the high street," said Simon Smith, commercial director.
Clerys is owned by Gordon Brothers, a Boston-based investment firm who bought it in September 2012 in a joint venture with the Bank of Ireland.
Asked if he thought the company – whose boast is that they see value where others don't – would still be running Clerys in five years time, Mr Smith's answer was a head nodding "Yes".