Island future - campaign by Brown Thomas to support home-grown talent
Next week, Create, Brown Thomas's initiative to identify and support home-grown talent, will be unveiled for the sixth year. With 19 designers, the largest in Create's history, the glamour quotient is at its highest. There are tales of comebacks and, on show and on sale, are unique Irish designers who are succeeding internationally.
Create 2016 has the hit autumn/winter 2016 collection of the current darling of British fashion, Richard Malone. It has recent prestigious International Woolmark Prize winners, design team Teatum Jones (Catherine Teatum is from Mayo). It has the queen of leather accessories and Lady Gaga's favourite, Una Burke.
For many of us, the really exciting news in this year's Create is, that after 13 years away from fashion, the inestimable Mary Gregory makes her return, with a collection that shows everyone else in the business how it's really done.
"Mary Gregory's is a stunning collection," Shelly Corkery, fashion director of Brown Thomas, tells me. "Overall, I feel it's a really good selection this year. We have Jill de Burca. We have Mariad Whisker and Elaine Madigan's wonderful knitwear collaboration. We have Dee Mangan's Kinsale Leather, and Giovanna Borza's shearlings. We have Fintan Mulholland's conceptual knitwear. And we have lots of lovely jewellers, such as Maria Parsons, and lovely milliners such as Margaret O'Connor and Elaine Keogh."
Sustainability is the theme of this year's Create, both from a practical perspective in terms of the store's energy, fixtures, fittings and consumption, to the sustainability of Irish fashion itself.
"We, Eddie [Shanahan] and I, interviewed 54 designers for this year's Create, before selecting our final 19," Shelly explains. "In making a selection, we have to weigh it between what we know can sell and what is a designer's own originality."
But for the first time in Create's six years of existence, Shelly talks about her concerns for the future of Irish fashion.
"Create is about exposure for the new creatives and up-and-coming designers. It is fantastic to see a great Irish designer like Mary Gregory coming back. And it is great to discover the new," Shelly says. "What I found harder this year, because we were trying to find new and up-and-coming designers, is where is the next Simone Rocha going to come from?"
Meaning a designer who creates large collections, with the potential to build a worldwide brand.
"We have reached out to NCAD," Shelly explains. "We spent five to six days there, interviewing the designers, seeing all their collections. But none of these guys are ready now; they are so young and inexperienced. Do they go abroad for two to three years? Do they stay and set up a brand? Can they produce here? Will banks lend to them? It is a question for Ireland."
Photography by Andrew Nuding
Styling by Darren Feeney
Fashion edited by Constance Harris