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Style notes: debut designs from Lia Cowan, Dior’s dreamy new store, and the waiting begins for hero gifts

Our fashion editor rounds up the latest style news and fashion trends


Lia Cowan's white yo-yo technique top in Egyptian cotton

Lia Cowan's white yo-yo technique top in Egyptian cotton

Top and silk dupion skirt from Lia Cowan’s debut collection

Top and silk dupion skirt from Lia Cowan’s debut collection

Lia Cowan's yo-yo technique white flower top in Egyptian cotton

Lia Cowan's yo-yo technique white flower top in Egyptian cotton

The Dior 'Caro' bag in indigo blue gradient cannage lambskin, €3,900

The Dior 'Caro' bag in indigo blue gradient cannage lambskin, €3,900

Pair of J’Adior embroidered cotton bracelets, €350

Pair of J’Adior embroidered cotton bracelets, €350

Sunglasses from the Dior boutique at Brown Thomas

Sunglasses from the Dior boutique at Brown Thomas


Lia Cowan's white yo-yo technique top in Egyptian cotton

The introduction of a new award for emerging fashion designers is to be welcomed. Congratulations to Lia Cowan, winner of the inaugural Longines Irish Champions Young Designer Award. The Dubliner studied sculpture at NCAD before earning a fashion qualification in Sallynoggin, and you can certainly pick up on that sculpting skill set in her love of manipulating and transforming fabrics.

Lia uses quite a mix, from taffeta and cotton to silk dupion, like in the skirt below, which costs €350. She explains how, as an artist and designer, she draws on and is inspired by her Jewish and Irish heritage, “which has opened a portal where inspiration threads are spun from folklore and mysticism”.

Her ‘Forever Beyond the Limits of the World’ collection includes one-of-a-kind garments.

What stood out for me in this collection was her use of the yo-yo technique, which has its roots in Japan. Lia discovered it in a book on fabric manipulation, and it’s like a series of raised fabric circles which, she says, resembles quilting.

The young designer’s aim is to create “pieces of art carefully considered and lovingly handcrafted — heirlooms that can be passed from one generation to the next”.

@i_am_liac; liacowandesign@gmail.com

Dior boutique arrives in town

Next week sees the launch of the keenly awaited Dior boutique at Brown Thomas Dublin, the latest luxury designer to open on the ground floor of the Grafton Street store this season.

You will find Dior’s emblematic accessories, notably scarves, belts and glasses from their 2022 ‘Cruise’ collection designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Bag fiends will, I suspect, be intensely interested, especially since this couture house’s iconic ‘Saddle’ bag has been such a hit of late.

Inside the new boutique, expect to see the Dior ‘Caro’ lambskin bag. This style is a homage to Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine, who was affectionately known as ‘Caro’, and the supple lambskin with the Dior ‘cannage’ quilting motif comes in a variety of colours, including indigo blue gradient lambskin, grey, mint green and a classic black. The chain links reprise the ‘CD’ signature, echoing the clasp, and the ‘Caro’ is priced at €3,900.

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The cannage motif is a design inspired by the upholstery on the Napoleon III chairs which Christian Dior used at his first shows in Paris. It can also be seen very clearly on the ‘Lady Dior’ bag, designed by Gianfranco Ferré for Princess Diana.

Across the handbag and accessories range, I have a great fondness for the Dior ‘Oblique’ house motif which was designed by Marc Bohan.

Anyone who has been watching the sale of designer handbags before and during lockdown can fully expect to see a new zeal unleashed, especially in the run-up to Christmas, and I suspect that Dior will be on the receiving end of lots of that love.

I am basing that forecast on the numbers of serious fashionistas who made their way to Paris and London to see the exhibition, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.

There is a deep-seated interest in the couturier’s groundbreaking work, his motifs, and his legacy, which Chiuri continues to reinterpret cleverly.

The new boutique will have a selection of silk twill scarves priced from €285, sunglasses from €330, jewellery starting at €350 for the J’Adior embroidered bracelets, and other jewellery creations by Victoire de Castellane, including the Rose des Vents collection with prices from €1,000.

Cashmere indulgence

The mere mention of cashmere-covered hot water bottles gripped my attention immediately and I was into the Irish Design Shop on Drury Street like a flash to check them out.

The miniature hot water bottles costing €78 are made by Ekotree in the Burren, using 100pc handspun cashmere in deliciously autumnal tones of berry,
jaffa orange and mint as well as beige and grey.

While in the shop, check out their new Irish Vernacular 2022 calender (€30), a collaboration with the Kenmare photographer Norman McCloskey. It features images of vernacular architecture in beautiful natural landscape settings and has 12 unique ready-to-frame prints, and the cover image features copper foil detailing. irishdesignshop.com

Dates and days

Waiting lists for hero Christmas gifts are popping up everywhere. I’ve joined alert lists for concert tickets, restaurants and pre-order services. I know it’s only mid-October, but with delivery chains acting up, it’s a new retail reality.

There was lots of chatter this week about the first ever Brown Thomas luxury beauty advent calender. It landed two days ago and costs €295 while the contents are valued at €690. There was a waiting list for the limited edition set but it’s definitely worth checking out availability in store. Never ignore self-gifting.