The ISPCC Brown Thomas Fashion Show, held in the InterContinental Hotel (formerly the Four Seasons), is not only one of the biggest fashion dates in the annual calendar, it is also a huge fund-raising event. In the last 12 years, the occasion has earned over €900,000 for the children's charity.
"We are very happy to support the ISPCC. It is an event that is very close to my heart and all our hearts," Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery told me. "We see those dreadful images of children suffering. The stories can be shocking. The work of the ISPCC is so important to children's lives."
Tickets for the ISPCC Brown Thomas Fashion Show are generally sold out soon after they are released in the spring. It's a hugely glamorous affair, near-sorority like in that the crowd (mainly women) nearly all know each other from attending year on year. Thus, since its beginnings, it has become friendlier.
"It is one of the biggest launches we do and there is a huge amount of work that goes into it beforehand," Shelly explains. "There aren't that many events left for people to go to anymore, so people look forward to it as an occasion to dress up and see friends they might not have seen in a long time. It is a good fun event."
The fun, as well as the good cause, attracts people who generally avoid the limelight. Danielle Ryan, for instance, has attended several times. This year, she sponsored the 'goodie bag' of perfume and novels (mine was The Scarlet Letter, which had me very confused for a time), from her new online store, Roads, also in Brown Thomas.
Stars of the screen such as Saoirse Ronan, Louis Walsh, and Amy Huberman were in attendance and they, along with MC for the occasion, Laura Whitmore (dressed in Peter Pilotto), contributed to the glam and feel-good buzz of the event.
For me, as well as for all the fashion mavens who attended, the event is a tremendous style-watch occasion, as most of the attendees are committed Brown Thomas international designer room shoppers and are hot to snatch up the latest deliveries of Lanvin, Valentino and Dior. One young woman looked fresh and pretty in a Victoria Beckham summer dress, while another woman was sporting the latest winter look. Such is the style diversity on the day.
"I think everyone makes a very big effort," Shelly says. "We saw lots of Preen and Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. I thought there were a lot of lovely dresses. It was quite mixed, from summer to winter, too, with people choosing to wear what they loved. We have had a tremendous season already in Brown Thomas. You really feel something is going well in Ireland again."
I ask Shelly if are there particular indicators that show things are picking up.
"Occasion wear is the indicator for us," Shelly instantly replies. "It has been an incredibly strong season for occasion wear for the first time in a long time. Oscar de la Renta literally sold out in two days. People are buying as soon as the collections drop. Definitely, people are looking for difference - special pieces, investment pieces. They want something different, something new. And they really want colour."
A desire for colour in fashion is a trend we have not seen since before 2008. A love of colour, be it in fashion or interior decoration, is always a sign of economic and social optimism. Think of the 1960s, or the 1920s.
Brown Thomas's catwalk show was a perfect summation of this season's key trends. Winter white and cream looked sophisticated, modern and beautiful, especially when done by Peter Pilotto, Victoria Beckham and Valentino, which was a big hit with this fashion design-discerning crowd. I adored Preen's eclectic collection; it was sensual and evocative, while still being sophisticated.
The audience loved Stella McCartney's sharply cut, bustier-styled, dresses and suiting, Dries Van Noten's new bohemian rhapsody and Balenciaga's modernist dresses.
"This season, there is a really big focus on tailoring and couture-like detail and finish," Shelly explains. "The couture side of fashion is something very new. It means structure, it means quality. Garments may be corseted, more structured, more complex.
"We also saw a lot of change today," Shelly elaborates. "Erdem has moved its silhouette away from the body and into more trapeze shape dresses and coats. Victoria Beckham has gone from being occasion wear, to more casual and wearable with all her knitwear pieces. Stella was more feminine in her dresses and jumpsuit styles.
"Trends-wise - knitwear is huge, especially ribbed knit pieces such as in Celine. Winter white is a big trend - think of Peter Pilotto's white dress, which was so futuristic. One- shoulder and backless looks are also key. The cocoon coat, the Crombie coat.
"The big sleeve is an important new detail. Roksanda is the queen of the event dress and Dior for beautiful coats. It is a strong fashion season, with something for everyone."
Which is good news for consumers. As is the ISPCC Brown Thomas fashion show for children.
Sunday Indo Living