Sybil & co: Irish fashion design
Photography by Agata Stoinska, Styling by Roxanne Parker and Fashion edited by Constance Harris
While creativity is often the product of patrons and commercial support, it is equally born of the desire to do something from the heart.
And sometimes a project of the heart needs a commercial sponsor to really see it expand. Uncommon Threads is one such project.
Photographer Agata Stoinska and fashion consultant Eddie Shanahan wanted to do something to celebrate Irish fashion design at a time when it most needs support. They also wanted to acknowledge the wonderful antecedents to that heritage -- and look after it, too.
The glorious, elegant pictures on our fashion pages are from their collaboration. In it, the work of contemporary Irish designers was shot as reverently as the work of Sybil Connolly, the grande dame of Irish fashion, would have been in her heyday. And, thanks to the Hunt Museum in Limerick, Ms Connolly's work was photographed on a woman, and not a mannequin as museums tend to do, largely due to the fragility of antique fabric.
"I feel Irish designers do not get credit for their craft; the true element that differentiates them from the high street," Eddie told me. "I wanted them to get a chance to exhibit their craftsmanship."
Now that fashion is finally over its fascination with pomp and ceremony, it is getting thoughtful, becoming interested in concepts such as form, meaning, class and craft. Craft is skill combined with knowledge. John Rocha is a big proponent. So is Lainey Keogh.
If Uncommon Threads gets the sponsorship it needs, maybe the eight elegant shots made so far of Irish designers, including Edmund McNulty, Eilis Boyle, Ruth Duignan and Suzie Mahony, could expand further to reflect more of Irish fashion, become a travelling exhibition to promote our industry.
As it was, Eddie and Agata were struck by how little resources are given to national treasures such as the Sybil Connolly archive, which she bequeathed to the Hunt Museum.
"The museum is doing an amazing job with little support. They are custodians of national treasures, but they can't afford to do all that needs to be done.
"We produce extraordinary design talent -- an amazing feat for a small country," Eddie explained.
We do have a lot to celebrate. We are an amazing country for talent and enterprise. We are more than troubled balance sheets.
And there is nothing like a beautiful fashion moment -- or exhibition -- to inspire excitement and optimism.
The Sybil Connolly Collection can be seen at the Hunt Museum, Rutland St, Limerick, tel: (061) 312-833, or see www.huntmuseum.com
Dirty Fabulous, 21 Wicklow St, D2, tel: (01) 611-1842, or see www.dirtyfabulous.com
Ruth Duignan, see www.ruthduignan.ie or email email@example.com
Suzie Mahony, Comhcheol, Rafarn, Loughrea, Co Galway, tel: (091) 847-326, or see www.suziemahonydesigns.ie
Edmund McNulty, Studio 7, Millmount Craft Centre, Drogheda, Co Louth, tel: (041) 984-4199, or see www.edmundmcnulty.com Eilis Boyle, Bow Boutique, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Sth William St, D2.
Photography by Agata Stoinska, see www.agatastoinska.com
Styling by Roxanne Parker, see www.roxanneparker.com
Concept and art direction by Eddie Shanahan, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Make-up by Lucy Browne Hair by Billy Orr for Morgan The Agency, see www.billyorrhairandmakeup.com
Models: Nikki Bonass, Laoise Quinn, Iseult Timmons Ward and Jayne Wilde at Morgan The Agency, see www.morgantheagency.ie
Special thanks to the management and staff at the Hunt Museum, Limerick All prices correct at time of going to press. Some may be reduced as a result of January discounts
Sunday Indo Life Magazine