Miniature masterpieces are a big hit with designer Kennedy

Louise Kennedy at the opening of the fashion exhibition in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle

IT JUST goes to show that fashion is cyclical. Double peplums, ornate tassels, delicate beading and the allure of draped fabrics – not the latest collection for AW13, but all popular 100 years ago.

They can be seen in the new Costumes Parisiens fashion plates exhibition at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle, which includes costumes from the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

The exhibition was opened by leading Irish designer Louise Kennedy, who recently celebrated 30 years in business. She acknowleges the importance of the Chester Beatty fashion plates collection for inspiration for her own designs.

She said there was "no better period than early 20th Century", when so many advances were made.

There were changes in silhouette as women got out of rigid clothes and Edwardian corsets to explore clothes for various times of the day – outfits for golf, tennis, garden parties, even 'visiting' clothes.

Alfred Chester Beatty, the Irish-American mining magnate and millionaire who was called the "King of Copper", bequeathed his collection of Oriental art and books to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin.

It was his fashion-conscious wife, Edith Dunn, who prompted her husband to acquire the 'Journal des Dames et des Modes' and the prized fashion plates which capture the slender silhouettes and vibrant colours of the time.

The exhibition includes plates by artists like Charles Martin, George Barbier and Bernard Boutet de Monvet.

HANDMADE

One hundred years ago, fashion was a major export in France and the plates were regarded as miniature masterpieces. They were sketched in pen, ink and watercolour before the composition was engraved into a copper plate and the image was printed on handmade paper.

There will be a series of lectures, public films and workshops held to complement the exhibition, which runs until March 30 next year.

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