Zoe Jordan: New kid on the block
Bairbre Power on former architecture student Zoe Jordan’s new collection
Finding a new fashion label to add to your wardrobe often gives you a gloriously giddy feeling -- like a guilty pleasure, an illicit assignation or reaching for a second portion of sinfully delicious dessert.
The fashion world is inhabited by lots of high-profile favourites that dominate the style pages, but every so often a new label comes along that stands out above the rest.
And all the better if there is an Irish connection!
The new name on everyone's lips this week is Zoe Jordan. She shows her latest collection for Irwin & Jordan this weekend at London Fashion Week, so take note. The label is full of contrasts: strong versus soft; boyish and feminine; tailored but sexy. I predict it will have great weekend appeal. The luxe leisure clothing is easy to wear, glamorous and immensely tactile.
Tenacity courses through Zoe's veins. The Dublin-born designer's dad is Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan, and her mum, Marie, has a reputation on the social pages for having a great eye for standout outfits.
I spotted Zoe's spring-summer collection last September when I went for a teatime sortie around the exhibitors at London Fashion Week. My feet were killing me, I'd been up since 4am to catch a red eye, and my stomach was growling. I needed food, badly.
Instead, I found food for the soul -- a fabulously feminine collection from Zoe, who studied architecture, and the clues were there in the beautiful lines, the colours and the contrasting fabrics.
Starting up in 2007, Zoe's fanbase already includes Natalie Imbruglia, Alexa Chung, Sienna Miller and Leighton Meester, and her current collection is clean and elegant, with a boyish twist.
Her spring-summer 2011 collection arrives in Ireland on February 28 in a month-long pop-up shop at Brown Thomas. Inspiration came from washed-out watercolours on canvas, while for colour, Zoe looked to a summer fire, hence the ash and tobacco colours, the burnt oranges and the gentle, smudged, smoky colours.
A cautious spender these days, I appreciate labels that embrace a trans-seasonal ethic. This way, your choice buys from last season will work with new pieces this season.
Don't be confused by the name, because the label is a one-woman band. "It's just me -- I like the sound, like an old tailor's on Savile Row," says Zoe. "I always use a tonal colour palette. You can mix this collection with the next. Colour is always the starting point and it's something I am very passionate about."
The sequinned pieces, from the sleeveless top to the Winston slouched trousers and the very, very sexy Stanley shirt dress, have all been purchased for the pop-up shop, but I've a feeling those star pieces won't be hanging around there for long.
Zoe's website, www.irwinandjordan.com, reveals the full breadth of her designing eye. Her trademark is tailored jackets with leather elbow pads and flashes of femininity. I suggest you explore her mix and match modernity; how she works flowing pants with a butter-soft, suede zipped jacket and Italian silks and fluid jersey.
And then there's the lace in ash or stone. Zoe was so in love with this fine French lace that she used it for her own wedding dress, creating an hourglass, fitted gown for her autumn nuptials to Steven Aspinall.
Moving from the world of finance to pursue a career in fashion, Zoe recalls how she "used to dress my young brothers and have them walk down my pretend catwalk at an early age. At school I focused on product design and then at uni on architecture, but on the flip side to the creativity, I have quite a mathematical brain. I like my designs to be symmetrical and clean".
The designer's style icons are women with a tomboyish quality, such as Lauren Hutton (who she'd love to see in one of her white trouser suits) and Amelia Earhart, a perfect hanger for her suede biker jacket worn with a dress or over the Winston pants, executed in a number of different fabrics.
Zoe admits she was "very influenced by my mother and my life growing up. She has an amazing knack of throwing things on and looking amazing. It's all about an inner confidence and I suppose that if you believe in yourself, you can carry anything you like off. But I do like to emulate that laid-back, throw-on style. It has a certain nonchalance."
Future plans include a leather goods project with Cherchbi, "and this summer you will find us in Porto Montenegro where we will be doing a pop-up shop for three months".
Colourwise, next autumn is all about "khaki, khaki, khaki", and she has also been inspired by vintage jewels and Wall Street.
In a raft of new labels arriving in store, I instantly cosied up to the Heather label at Arnotts. Or, if you are the kind of girl who likes to borrow your man's shirt to wear over jeans, let me introduce you to a very feminine equivalent. Equipment silk shirts are causing a sensation at BT2. There are a few new labels in store, such as étoile Isabel Marant, Surface To Air and Wildfox, but it was the Equipment shirts from Christian Roitfeld (husband of former French 'Vogue' editor Carine) that will take you out of style cul de sacs. They feel beautiful on and come in nine colours. Prices start at €225.
Kat Maconie's new shoe collection fuses fashion and function. Watch out for her signature gold screw feature and 'mould to measure' insoles, which make the heels super comfortable.
I'm not surprised to read that the young Londoner learned her craft working as an assistant stylist for a number of newspapers and magazines. A year-and-a-half after launching her designer footwear, 'Grazia', 'Vogue' and the 'Sunday Times Style' section have all tipped her as a shoe designer to watch, and I am thrilled to see four styles now available at Arnotts in Henry Street and at the Buffalo shop on Exchequer Street.
Another two are on the way, but I've lost my heart to the cream Alana patent heels (€275), while the cream Ophelia ankle boots are more pricey, at €360.
Debenhams has a knack for lining up top-end designers for diffusion ranges and it has added a few new ones to its Editions collections, now available at the Henry Street store and online at debenhams.ie.
Jonathan Saunders is doing a capsule collection with a clean, understated feel. Preen is also doing a capsule collection for Debenhams, and it really does embody the intricate detailing associated with the brand. Like Zoe Jordan, it is a range of modern separates, giving you the opportunity to mix and match.
Jonathan Kelsey's shoes are rather delicious and you can see his credentials coming through. He has worked for Cacharel, Gina, Emilio Pucci and Jimmy Choo and consulted with Mulberry, and his new styles for Debenhams, which are flagged for later in the spring, will be pleasingly affordable.
Don't say I didn't tell you!