Seasonal solutions from Carolyn Donnelly for autumn
Carolyn Donnelly has chosen colours like warm rose, soft grey, rich port, cream and black to take us "easily and confidently" into the autumn, writes our Fashion Editor
Standing on the north-facing beach at Howth, gazing out to Ireland's Eye and the majestic Lambay Island, the view from land is utterly calming. The bracing sea air combined with the vista of the distant horizon line is a like a tonic. It clears the brain and feeds the soul.
Our photoshoot this week was done on the Howth beach which has sparked lots of peaceful, creative moments for top designer, Carolyn Donnelly, whose The Edit collections have proved so successful at Dunnes Stores. Lucky for Carolyn and her family, the Howth beach literally backs onto their home and she can sit in her beach house and sketch.
One thing is certain: Carolyn doesn't want to rest on her laurels, and she is constantly pushing herself to tweak her layering signature and find new ways to tell her story.
Now in its sixth season, The Edit has attracted lots of faithful customers for its philosophy of smart/casual layering, the great work dress, the separates that can be thrown into the washing machine at 30 degrees and then, of course, there's Carolyn's signature, waterfall collar coats boasting easy, 'thrown on' appeal.
The star of the first drop of The Edit autumn/winter 2016 collection into store is undoubtedly the drape coat (pictured right) in an old rose pink. The warm hue - which gives a fabulous glow to Irish complexions - and the warm, trans-seasonal fabric is made up of 67pc polyester, 29pc viscose plus a handy 4pc elastane. The designer describes it "like wearing your cosiest cardigan."
I'm a huge scarf fan and I like Carolyn's attitude to finishing off this 'thrown on' look with the classic, fringed, boiled wool scarf (pictured right) and there's also the option of a fringed, crinkle wool, both priced €49.
"Every season, I like to pick one colour that I feel is the colour of the season and I've loved this old rose for a while," explains Carolyn. Print lovers will appreciate her cat print in port (below far right) which pops up in a handy dress shape, top and silk scarf with luxurious satin feel. The prints are done in-house and also include a fetching marble effect which turns up in bags with leather lining including a tote, a cross-body and a wallet.
"We've been doing our silk scarves for a while and everyone loves them because they are long, not square, and you can wrap them around twice."
This season, she has done a lovely cropped palazzo trouser in cream and a complimentary top which are solid building blocks for those of us who appreciate our monochromes. Carolyn has also introduced pipping with monochromes including white trim on a plain black top, trousers (far left) and an uber flattering round-neck dress (€119) which has two pockets and is very forgiving, without looking like a sack.
On the knitwear front, instead of doing 100pc cashmere, Carolyn has introduced a 30pc cashmere blend so there is a really good price for something that looks far more expensive, starting at €79 for a classic round neck. There's also a lean colleagiate style and loose polo in black and grey and, in September, watch out for tops in the same yarn but with a waffle weave.
Carolyn's neoprene black coat (€99, pictured right), worn over the cat print dress, is a conventional overcoat shape with concealed button and round collar "which will never take a bit of fluff and will always look pristine. You will always look smart in it," she says. I'm smitten and I don't know which I love more, the coat or the price tag.
A private preview of the collection gave me first glance of a terrific navy and burgundy bonded jersey coat (pictured top left) which again has that whole 'thrown on' glamour vibe and will look sensational, if I say so myself, with the fortuny pleating dress, or top, which come in black and soon to be seen in dark navy.
"It is absolutely the most useful thing in your wardrobe," says Carolyn, who has also done it in a black and white version.
I especially applaud Carolyn for her 'Two Way' waterfall collar boiled wool coat (€199) in blue or oatmeal which has a scarf which you can unbutton from the inside of the neck and then use as a belt. However, with Carolyn's eye for detail, there's always a twist and the scarf-turned-belt is placed around your waist inside the coat, and then threaded back out through slits at the side of the coat, to tie in the front.
For extra impact, this belt is narrower at the back so it won't give a lumpy silhouette. Didn't I say this designer has an incredible eye for detail?
Carolyn Donnelly The Edit available in selected Dunnes Stores and online at dunnesstores.com
Photographer: Barry McCall
Stylist: Carolyn Donnelly
Model: Tabea @ Distinct Model Management
Hair: David Cashman
Make-up: Christine Lucignano