The Quiet Man... Niall Tyrell's bespoke label
'Whatever happened to Tyrrell & Brennan?" someone asked me recently.
Niall Tyrrell and Donald Brennan were a young design team that began the Oakes label in the late 1990s. They were very successful by the Noughties, and renamed their label Tyrrell & Brennan. Their niche was quality, bespoke tailoring for professional women, and dramatic, goddess-like occasion wear and evening wear.
Not surprisingly, with the market the way it was since 2008, theirs has been a hard road.
So I called Niall Tyrrell and asked what he and Donald were doing these days.
"Donald has returned to England to take care of his ailing mum," Niall explains to me. "It was very gradual; it happened over six months. So I was eased into being on my own, in a way. By the time he left, I began to run the show."
The show now is Niall Tyrrell, a bespoke label based in Dublin that is contemporary, feminine and romantic.
Photographer Mike Bunn (our own David Bailey) - not long back from meeting his old mate, Joanna Lumley, at an event in Leitrim, and who shot the fashion images on our pages today in Clonbrock Castle, in Niall's home village of Ahascragh - described Niall Tyrrell's collection to me as being like a wardrobe for a diplomat's wife, in that it was exquisitely made, feminine and classy.
"We [Donald and Niall] have dressed former presidents, so yes, there is a style there that appeals to diplomatic lives," Niall agrees. "But also there are dresses for farmers who want to dress up at special times in their lives. I dress women from all walks of life. What I try to do is create pieces that transcend seasons, that become investment pieces."
The more I look at Niall Tyrrell's divine collection for autumn/winter, with its luxurious silk fabrics, sumptuous lace appliques, embroidery and three-dimensional fabrics, the more I realise that other Irish fashion, for the most part, does not reflect femininity in quite the way Niall Tyrrell does.
Niall is like our own Dolce&Gabbana: a designer of sexy, but not explicitly so, evocative, gorgeous clothes.
"The land I grew up in definitely influences my work," Niall tells me. "The more I go on in life, and look at what I am drawn to and what I create; it always has a natural, romantic aspect to it. But I love tailoring; it is the foundation of all that I do. The romantic element kicks in with the colour and fabric I choose each season."
Niall's background is NCAD, and then several years spent working in couture houses in London and Paris, where he learnt about luxury and fine finish.
"I joke sometimes that I am going to end up a pauper - being obsessed with a sleeve till the day I die. If it doesn't fall right, I can't leave it. And everyone says, 'Just leave it'. But I can't! It has to be right," Niall laughs. And it is.
Photography by Mike Bunn
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Life Magazine