The international success currently being enjoyed by top Irish fashion designers is totally justified.
Unlike the global brands who stick slavishly to forecasted trends - and consequently look the same - Irish designers are developing a real 'fashion voice' that international stores want to hear, and bring to their customers.
Point of difference is vital in the increasingly tough world of retail and when you have a strong signature style and a real fashion story to tell, the customer will always sit up and take note.
That's exactly what happened when I went for coffee in the Kilkenny store on Nassau Street ...only I never got to have that Latte. I stuck to the ground floor, completely sidetracked by the arrival of the new spring summer 2014 stock. On a bleak. rain soaked January day, the vista of those rich colours, luxury fabrics and summery styles was a instant game changer.
On closer inspection, I discovered that my lust list hinged totally on Irish designers, established names like Aideen Bodkin and FeeG whose ability to design wardrobe heroes every season has earned them an international reputation.
Style commentators Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney have proved categorically over three seasons that they definitely have something to say with their new clothing label. Lennon Courtney is so well regarded in London, it 's going to be stocked this season by uber cool store Wolf & Badger whose reptuation for spotting new upcoming talent is legendary.
Kilkenny have 13 stores around the country and this season, they are introducing Lennon Courtney to their Irish fashion line up. Crush pieces for me included a handy silk tee shirt. I wasn't just smitten by the cerise colour, this tee feels super luxurious on and will, I suspect, be a seven day friend as it goes equally well under business suit or with jeans.
Another new label for Kilkenny this season is Niamh O'Neill. She's definitely a name to watch if feminine, tailored dresses are your thing. The silhouette is very flattering and the obi-style side belt in metallic leather is a Niamh O'Neill signature touch.
Also on the floor, I spotted Irish designers Caroline Kilkenny and Jennifer Rothwell while on the jewellery front, their Irish list of designers includes John Rocha, Paul Costelloe, Newbridge Silverware, Alan Ardiff and Enibas. When it comes to that crucial, stand-out-in-the-crowd point of difference, I predict great things for NCAD graduate Baithin Ennis from Gorey whose work in sterling silver is incredibly unique. ChristinaBelle has a Dublin base from which she can thrill the world with her statement crystal collar neckpieces and matching cuffs/earrings which we featured in our Weekend magazine shoot.
I hope you enjoy watching the behind the scenes footage from the fashion shoot. It was bitterly cold when we shot in the last week of January but the wind and driving rain did little to dampen our enthusiasm for spring/summer newness. On the streets of Dublin, the all Irish clothing and jewellery line-up looked exceedingly international and the shoes came from Irish shoe store, Fitzpatricks of Grafton Street.
Kilkenny are hosting a series of 'Meet The Designer' events at their Nassau Street store where you can meet the people behind the clothing lines and ask them for personal fashion advice. The dates currently in the diary are:
Feb 15: 12-4 LennonCourtney
Feb 22: 12-4 Fiona Heaney from FeeG
March 1: 12-4 Aideen Bodkin
March 8: 12-4 Jennifer Rothwell
March 15 12-4 Niamh O’Neill