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Friday 23 February 2018

Clothes that created a style icon will go to charity auctions

Mary McAleese dresses in black for meeting the Pope
Mary McAleese dresses in black for meeting the Pope

Bairbre Power Fashion Editor

MANY of the clothes worn by Mary McAleese during her official duties over the past 14 years are to be donated to charity.

A spokeswoman for the outgoing President yesterday said that the majority of the attire she accumulated during her two terms in office would go to help those in need.

However, the donations will be kept anonymous and the outfits will be resold, not auctioned.

Some of Mrs McAleese's more famous pieces will be put on display, and she will keep a small number of the outfits for herself.

But the majority of items will be allocated to a variety of charities.

Mrs McAleese has accumulated an enviable wardrobe of Irish-designed clothes in her 14 years in office.

Some of the most memorable pieces -- including the magenta Tyrrell & Brennan outfit she wore to greet the Queen in April -- will go on display in a permanent museum in the Phoenix Park.

"President McAleese is enthusiastic about clothes insofar as they do a job for her and, over the years, she developed a sense of style and really tried to promote Irish designers," said Deborah Veale, a designer who received many commissions from the first citizen and was behind the stunning electric blue coat and dres that the president wore during the queen's state dinner.

There were no rules to Mrs McAleese's colour agenda over a decade and the spectrum swung dramatically and effectively.

There was vibrant pink for the state visit to Holland, to match the colour of Dutch crocuses; and eyepopping red silk to meet President Bill Clinton in 2003.

The Belfast girl, who looked like a typical academic with long hair and big glasses during her years at Queen's University, blossomed into a real style icon over the past decade and a half -- first on her campaign trail, then at the Aras.

Banished were the big specs and flat hair and the mother of three developed a savvy eye for using colour to its best.

While some women need to see the exact outfit before they have the confidence to say yes, the late fashion bloomer developed the confidence to order from drawings and a swatch of fabric.

"She was very strong on colour and required clothes that made a sophisticated impact", says Niall Tyrrell, one half of the Tyrrell & Brennan design duo, who dressed the President regularly in later years, including when the Obamas visited the Aras.

"You never knew until the last minute that she was going to wear your outfit," explains Mr Tyrrell.

Over the years, Mrs McAleese's staff have kept everything immaculately and she re-wore outfits, with an appropriate space of time between.

"With clever cut, you can renew an outfit and style it different ways, which is what President McAleese did," explained Ms Veale.

Irish Independent

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