Thursday 25 May 2017

Virgin territory: A return to romance

Photography by Johnny savage FasHIon edited by constance Harris

Organic-cotton and silk-pongee
jacket, €240; organic-cotton
and silk-pongee dress, €199,
both Unicorn
Organic-cotton and silk-pongee jacket, €240; organic-cotton and silk-pongee dress, €199, both Unicorn
Crinkle silk-chiffon and organic-cotton dress with polka-dot ribbon, €255, Unicorn. Shoes, €135, KMB, Giorgio's Shoe Boutique
Silk-satin and silk-pongee dress, €299, Unicorn Shoes, €135, KMB, Giorgio's Shoe Boutique
Organic-cotton and silk-pongee dress with velvet piping, €245, Unicorn
Organic-cotton dress, €215, Unicorn Suede shoes, €125, Lebabe, Giorgio's Shoe Boutique
Organic-cotton shirt, €149; organic-cotton skirt, €139, both Unicorn

Constance Harris

With the global air of sobriety, fashion has had to think much more acutely about customers' needs in a cash-short world.

Unicorn by Sophie Rieu is a label founded nine years ago with an eye to conscientious labour, to environment, to ethics: it was a collection for people who wanted clothes with meaning. By now, it is also a label of subtle style, and designer Sophie Rieu will even adapt her designs to individual customers' requests.

Sophie is French, and made her home here in the Nineties. Her early collections reflected the softness of informal, natural Ireland, but, as she matures, she is drawing on her homeland's natural understanding of sublime elegance, too. The results are extremely appealing.

And I am not the only one to notice. Since Sophie opened her design studio and store, The Garden of Unicorn, in Greystones, Co Wicklow, last year, her order books are busy. "I'm doing a lot of made-to-measure," she says with relish. "It is fantastic the relationship you have with the customer when you do that. More and more clients come here to order pieces they like in different fabrics, or just with differences such as longer sleeves -- things that makes an outfit more comfortable for them."

Unicorn for summer 2011 is full of passion, as evidenced by Sophie's use of coral and peach, a colour combination that was only recently on the cover of Vogue.

There are wonderful flashes of turquoise and navy, too.

"People are tired of doom and gloom. I thought it was good to have colour for that reason," Sophie told me. "I decided to be more practical, focus on shapes that work very well, and then introduce my style and signature to them so that then, there is a coherence to it all. That has led to a much stronger collection. I feel it is more consistent."

It is. Since her autumn/winter 2009 collection, I have seen Unicorn by Sophie Rieu become an elegant working-woman's collection, but with a lovely balance of femininity about it. As her fabrics are devoid of harsh chemicals, they are delicious to the touch.

"One word that kept coming into my mind at the time when designing the collection was the word 'grace' -- the gracefulness of womanhood," Sophie explained. "The collection is tailored, but it is reflecting the curves of the woman.

"It is a return to youth, to adolescence, to romance. The return to lightness; a carefree spirit."

Sophie speaks a kind of magic we all could do with: Unicorn magic.

L

All clothes by Sophie Rieu for Unicorn, The Garden of Unicorn, Waverly, Church Rd, Greystones, Co Wicklow, tel: (01) 201-0510, or see www.unicorndesign.net

All shoes courtesy of Giorgio's Shoe Boutique, Hillside Rd, Greystones, Co Wicklow, tel: (01) 201-7252

Sophie Rieu Stockists: Maven, 64 Aungier St, D8, tel: (01) 478-9226, or see www.mavenboutique.com

Passenger, Market Square, Clifden, Co Galway, tel: (095) 22770

Belle Boutique, Meridian Shopping Centre, Greystones, Co Wicklow, tel: (01) 201-0033

Chic Unique, Unit 6, Corballis Shopping Centre, Ratoath, Co Meath, tel: (01) 835-1003, or see www.chicunique.ie

County Boutique, 57 O’Connell St, Ennis, Co Clare, tel: (065) 682-1947, or see www.countyboutique.com

Cyan, Swan Shopping Centre, Rathmines, D6, tel: (01) 496-8681

Crowley Calnan, 95 South Main St, Bandon, Co Cork, tel: (023) 884-1128

Westgate Design, 22a North Main St, Wexford, tel: (053) 912-3787, or see www.westgatedesign.ie

Photography by Johnny Savage, see www.johnnysavage.com

Hair and make-up by Ivey O'Sullivan at Morgan The Agency, see www.morgantheagency.com

Model: Emer O’Carroll

Shot at the Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford, Co Wicklow, tel: (0404) 40116.

Thank you to everyone there

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