Having travelled the length and breadth of the country in the last few weeks, I can tell you there are two desires at the forefront of Irish women’s minds: wanting clothes full of life and colour that lift your spirits, and something gorgeous for a special occasion.
We in Ireland are wonderfully catered for on those fronts by our fashion labels and our stores. Be it occasion-wear emporium McElhinneys in Ballybofey, or Trag Knitwear and Fiona’s in Skibbereen, no matter your size or your age, you can find an outfit to lift your soul and match your life’s needs.
Kate Cooper is an Irish label that I have long had an affection for, but this season it is really making me happy. It started out as a slightly retro, twentysomething’s day-into-occasion-wear collection, but in recent seasons it focused entirely on occasion wear. This year, however, the people at Michael H, who own Kate Cooper, with their lovely designer, Karen Masterson, decided to have some fun and get back to the brass tacks of the label.
“It’s a bit working wardrobe, a bit party,” Karen told me. “It’s got a lot more lifestyle in it this season. You can wear a dress to work with your ballet pumps, but then change your shoes and add a fascinator and you’re ready for an event. I think when you get to a certain age you need a little bit of fun, but you need fit as well. And you want a bit of sexy, too.”
For summer, Kate Cooper (available in size 8-18) is a mixture of Fifties retro with modern prints and colours. There are two types of dresses — sweet, full-skirted prom dresses in rose print and vampy fitted numbers in strong colours and digital prints a la Imelda May.
Kate Cooper is also returning us to the fun, as well as function, of separates, which nicely complements the glamour and sex appeal of the dresses. Check out the funky T-shirts with bold appliqued details; natty, stripy cardigans in a selection of acid fruit colourways; jaunty blazers with contrast trims; figure-hugging pencil skirts in stretch fabrics and elegant, wide-leg tailored trousers. There are several coats and jackets in the range, some to coordinate with the obvious event-wear dresses, but some, such as the polka-dot, frilly trench pictured on page 30, were pure flights of pleasurable fancy. “I think that as you get older you need your clothes to do more for you,” Karen explained. “Since starting in fashion, I’ve had children. I am a working mum. I am short on time but I want to look good. My clothes need to work harder. But I want fun, too!”
Kate Cooper has oodles of all the things we gals need — beauty and sex appeal being paramount.
Photography by Sean Jackson, see www.seanjackson.ie
Styling by Grace Moore at Morgan The Agency
Make-up by Alanna Wallace at Make Up For Ever, 38 Clarendon St, D2 tel: (01) 679-9043
Hair by Jessica Doolin, Toni & Guy, Clarendon St, D2, tel: (01) 671-4401
Model: Kelly Horrigan at Morgan The Agency