Tuesday 15 October 2019

Easy to love, easy to wear... the style of the new season

The annual Brown Thomas ISPCC Fashion Show has become one of the most important charity events of the year, writes Liadan Hynes

Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney
Peter Pilotto
Stella McCartney
Victoria Beckham

In everything but title, the Brown Thomas ISPCC Fashion Show is the official start of the new autumn fashion season. Every year in the week children return to school almost 400 guests converge on the ballroom of the InterContinental Hotel, Dublin, for the event; the waiting list for tickets grows.

The event is run by the president of the ISPCC Caroline Downey and events manager Penny Dix.

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Now in its 19th year, it has raised an impressive €1.3m.

Caroline O'Sullivan, director of services for the ISPCC, said: "While I will acknowledge that there has been improvements over the past couple of years, waiting lists have improved however it is still unacceptable that in the first quarter of this year, 365 young people were waiting for more than 12 months for their first appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Victoria Beckham
Victoria Beckham

"The suicide rate among young people aged 15-19 in Ireland is the seventh highest of 33 European countries. In Ireland the highest rates of self-harm are consistently recorded in young people.

"These children need our services, services that are open 24 hours a day, services that are non-judgmental and recognise that these children are incredibly brave to take that first step and call our service."

"It's a really important date for us," adds Caroline Downey, who this year invited Andrea Corr to host the event, and was joined at her table by Roz Purcell, Pippa O'Connor Ormond and Laura Whitmore, among others.

"The ladies come along and support us; it's crucial because the ISPCC is a voluntary organisation. Without volunteers, and the support of the public in Ireland, it would cease to exist, because we get very, very little money from the State."

As well as raising much-needed funds, the day centres on a show that launches the new season's trends. "It's a real elevation day for fashion," reflects Shelly Corkery, fashion director, Brown Thomas.

But before anything happens on the catwalk, which this year was covered with a beautiful arrangement of purple and blue flowers through which the models emerged, the audience themselves throws up endless outfit inspirations.


This season, comfortable shoes with midi dresses were a big look among the audience. Morah Ryan, Roz Purcell and Shelly Corkery stood out as three of the best dressed on the day - all wore midi dresses with flat or low-heeled shoes.

Shelly wore Prada boots with a thick sole that reached to midway between knee and ankle, Morah wore brogues, Roz a low heel.

"I think for the first time in a long while we saw on the catwalk show everything with heavy boots, lace up boots, hiking boots, western boots, knee high boots," Shelly said. "There's a really, really big change for this season. We all love our winter boots but when people think of them a lot of them think of ankle boots. It's actually knee high this year."

So with your floral midi, or your winter coat, you're wearing big, chunky clumpy boots; winter's version of this summer's thick soled runner.

Tailoring is back in a big way for autumn/winter, but this season it feels less fancy dress than the double-breasted power suits of last winter, which in real life always feel a little overblown.

Blazers can be single or double-breasted, many have a slight nautical flavour; Celine has a version with gold buttons, very preppy, says Shelly.

Tailoring is loose, and suits are being styled with a turtleneck or a blouse, rather than the boyfriend shirt of previous years.

"It doesn't always have to be that close to the body," says Shelly of autumn/winter 2019's silhouette. "It can be also oversized, or tight and fitted," she says, referring to the many check print blazers about.

"It adds a nice element of masculinity to that feminine dress," Shelly adds, referring to the trend for big, boxy blazers worn over dresses.

Mixing and matching contrasting pieces; feminine and masculine, soft and grungy, is going to be a big trend in how we style ourselves this season.

"People aren't going girly any more," Shelly explains, pointing to all the big, oversized florals.

"Even on the floral prints, we always think really pretty, but this season they're really strong. There's a cool edge, wearing them with biker boots. It's not pretty floral, it's definitely more sophisticated."

The midi length is still prominent, this season in more of an A-line shape.

"It's really easy to wear," says Shelly. "Narrow at the hip and then flaring out. Dresses are cut away from the body rather than anything too hourglass."

Colourwise there is lots of brightness, as well as lots of browns, but it is a real season for prints, especially those with a vintage feel, an aesthetic that references classics; "chain, Hermes, old world, art deco", Shelly explains.

If you are referencing a previous decade, it will be 1940s and dressed up 1970s. Think tea dresses and big coats from an Agatha Christie, and Meryl Streep in blouses, stacked heeled boots and blouses in Kramer vs. Kramer.

We seem to be moving on from our obsession with revisiting the 1990s; Shelly points out that the 1980s biker boot is a big trend.

In knitwear, oversized cardigans and turtlenecks thin enough to layer under a dress or a blazer are your two key pieces.

Trousers are wide legged; "louche, away from the body, something that flows like liquid", Shelly explains, citing Celine's culottes as an example.

"It's a real coats season," she adds, noting that there is a shape for all tastes.

"Shearling is very, very strong, in a trapeze shape. Puffas, the chevron coat at Prada, Celine oversized checks, the McQueen red fitted coat. There are a lot of capes around. A few of the Marc Jacobs ones have sold out already. Crombie-style coats, and oversized coats in tweed are very important."

Bag trends are towards the small and dinky, with camera bags a very influential style.

The Bottega Veneta clutch is probably the bag of the season, with two different sizes available. Two bags to get us through the day is now becoming somewhat standard, a tote brought into the office to sit by the desk, with the addition of a cross body bag for when you're out and about and just need essentials, rather than lugging around an overfilled tote so full it is practically a piece of luggage.

It sums up this season in general; clothes that look good but are also practical, comfortable. Easy to love, but easy to wear.

All clothes are available from Brown Thomas Dublin and brownthomas.com

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