Monday 22 January 2018

Fashion favours the brave as design hub opens its doors

BARRY EGAN

FOR Eoin McDonnell to open Project 51 -- an Irish-designer-collective store, which is located at 51 South William Street, Dublin -- in the middle of a worsening economic downturn is certainly showing imaginative vision against the play-it-safers and the self-flagellating doom-mongers.

Thirty-nine-year-old Eoin, whose background is in the jewellery business, realises that now is not the time for faint hearts in Ireland.

Eoin firmly believes that the market for Project 51 will be sophisticated women "of all ages who have a passion for fashion and look to discover new designs". And for the sophisticated men who buy for these women.

"The Irish public want to see new approaches and fresh thinking, and they are supporting people who are taking their livelihoods into their own hands.

"We are creating a design hub within the city -- something that the design community have been looking for, for years. Although we are starting in challenging times, we have taken a 10-year lease. A focus on interesting design and hard work will assist us.

"What we offer is exclusive limited-edition Irish-designer fashion jewellery and accessories. In Project 51 we have the opportunity to create unique designs and showcase them every week. It is timeless fashion and design that will not date, that you could have in your wardrobe or on your finger for years.

"There is a genuine groundswell of support for buying Irish: we have been overwhelmed with the level of support and enthusiasm on the journey to opening Project 51, and we have only just begun," Eoin said.

"By buying from Project 51, the public are supporting the economy while looking fantastic."

South William Street, with its mix of fashion stores, graphic design agencies, digital media outfits and graffiti artists, is taking on a Soho-New York-style look.

About two-and-a-half years ago, Eoin came up with the idea. He talked it through with John Nangle -- "my Mr Finance". They then looked at the international success stories, searched for Irish designers with strong collections and got help from Dublin City Enterprise Board in research and development.

Project 51 will be a home for 14 designers in a 19th-Century Victorian house, including fashion designers Claire O'Connor, Jennifer Rothwell, Sinead Doyle, and Caiomhe Keane of Que-Va.

There are six jewellery designers: Eily O'Connell; Vikki Shorten of VSLJewelry; Geraldine Murphy of Saba Jewellery; Emma Taylor of Ruby Jewels; Yvonne Ryan of Eve-Ella; and Eoin McDonnell himself (of Precious). There is knitwear, courtesy of Heather Finn and Sinead Clarke. There is even a milliner, Martha Lynn, and leather bags from Anna Vahey of AnaFaye.

Asked what the strengths of the Project 51 concept are, Eoin says the principal strength "is strength in numbers -- collaboration . . . getting creative designers together."

Sunday Independent

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