It is rare that we in LIFE celebrate a designer's work two seasons in a row, but the Dunnes Stores collaboration with Irish designer Joanne Hynes is one of the most exciting things happening in Irish fashion right now.
This season sees Joanne at her most confident ever. "I think I'm getting closer and closer to it every season," she says of the woman she has in mind when she's designing. "Actually, I think it's about me. But it took me a long time to figure that out. When I get dressed - I'm not saying I'm an amazing dresser or anything - but it's quite spontaneous for me. If I love something, I feel quite confident in choosing it."
This confidence in her own taste and what inspires her did not come overnight, she explains. "I was always looking outside. For years, I kind of tormented myself. Because I thought, 'I don't know if I have even worked it out on paper'. But I think, as I go along, I'm more connected. It was always me. When I was in college, I think it was always about what I liked. And then I went into the industry; you get more pressurised to talk about your brand. And that's really important as well. But I feel now, it just is what it is. I am now very, very comfortable, very secure in terms of who my customer is and what she is. I feel more confident about what I already have, rather than having to look outside for more stuff."
Unlike many designer/high-street collaborations, Joanne is not compromising her aesthetic in any way. This was not a watered-down version of her work. "I never hold back on anything," she explains. "I have approached it like I would approach any of my collections. I have to feel 'have I pushed it enough?' There has to be a feeling that I've really connected with it."
For Joanne, fashion is an expression of who you are. "I don't think that the high street embraces individuality in any sense. And that's what I'm doing." This season's line includes coats, dresses, knitwear, leather, bags, Perspex earrings, Perspex brooches, hand-crocheted keyrings, crocheted accessory teddies, embroidered gold leather slip-on shoes, and socks. She has gone further with the freedom the collaboration with Dunnes Stores allows her: the new collection includes exclusive fabrics featuring prints designed by Joanne. "That kind of creativeness, it's a pure rush," Joanne says.
French post-impressionist painter Rousseau's works of jungle settings have inspired this line, leading to graphic prints designed by Joanne. There are references to her own archive. "I went back to things that I'd designed years ago that I never actually used," she says. This might have informed the line as having something of a nostalgic feel. "The girl in the shoot, she likes vintage," Joanne says. "She likes the idea of buying something rare." This kind of unbridled creativity is indeed rare on the high street.
Art director David Poole
Words by Liadan hynes
Fashion edited by Constance Harris