No matter how good his or her training, every young design graduate must face the daunting test of selling in the marketplace. This is the greatest challenge to their confidence and their ability, because in doing so, they begin to grasp just how much they don't know. It can be a crushing, as well as a steep, learning experience.
Om Diva boutique owner, Ruth Ni Loinsigh, saw there was no bridge for young designers between leaving college and selling successfully to the marketplace. She felt there was an absence of support, in terms of mentorship and guidance, as to pricing, delivery and presentation once they began to sell.
When she moved Om Diva's premises from the George's Street Arcade to where it is now in 27 Drury Street, a bigger building, Ruth's plan was to create a 'bridge' store for young designers. She also created work studios at nominal rent, with low-commitment contracts for the new designers. Atelier 27 was born.
It was a ballsy idea - and it has worked tremendously.
Four years on, Atelier 27 is now a go-to destination for fashion stylists and consumers with adventurous and discerning taste.
"There was a lot of talk about Irish designers because of the recession," Ruth remembers. "I felt something was needed. Atelier 27 is about that difficult time for designers - when they just get out of college and they don't have the means to produce and sell huge collections, nor promote their business."
The fashion at Atelier 27 is often bright and/or experimental, and very definitely at great prices. The stock varies all the time as the new designers are constantly updating and adding to their area on the shop floor. Designers such as Morganna Murphy, Dolly Delinquent and Alice Halliday experiment with fabric and texture and colour in their bold and lovely creations.
"I think what has happened with the Atelier since it began is that it has gone beyond what I thought it would be," Ruth says. "I thought it would be a platform for new designers. Now it is about emerging design. It is a hub of creativity."
The jewellery ranges are diverse. There is, quite literally, something for everyone. If you are a fine-gold and silver fan you might want to commission a piece from goldsmith, Janice Byrne, or Inner Island. Or you may be someone who loves the delicate work of Aliquo, or adores the dramatic pieces by Kasia Niewiadomska, Kiki Na Art, and award-winning jewellery brand Capulet & Montague.
"The customers who come in are people who love and understand the design element, as well as appreciating the Irish aspect," Ruth says. "People love buying into and supporting new talent and craft."
Atelier 27 is a joyful place of new and optimistic talent. Long may it live.
Photography by Jonathan Mitchell
Styling by Ruth Anna Coss
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine