Aoibhin Garrihy, Rosalind Lipsett and Aisling O'Loughlin in exclusive shoot at Kilronan Castle
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Like Donatella Versace, Catriona Hanly is a fashion exotic. Her world seems to be that of the high life, sophistication, famous friends and private jet planes, if one was to judge by her fashion shoots, social media and all the rest.
It's all conjuring, of course. Catriona, like every other Irish designer, fights to keep the show on the road. But if she doesn't have a bit of play along the way, what's the point? Catriona has always had a playful attitude to the world (while also doing the hard graft, such as eight years as a junior buyer at Bergdorf Goodman in New York) and that comes out in her clothes. As my editor said, who could resist celebs playing at dress-up? Who, indeed? It seems Aoibhin Garrihy, Rosalind Lipsett and Aisling O'Loughlin couldn't resist having a romp of a day in Kilronan Castle either, with hair and make-up artists to the stars, Michael Doyle and Paula Callan.
"I was aiming for a Vanity Fair vibe, but gosh, that shoot - I am still not right from it!" Catriona tells me. "When I started out, if someone told me fashion was this difficult, I wouldn't have believed them. I am shattered. I love it, though, so I don't think I could do anything else."
Catriona is from Strokestown, Co Roscommon. She has lived and worked all over the world, but currently she commutes between Roscommon and London. I first met her about 15 years ago, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, when she was doing opulent, over-the-top jewellery, and people were wild for it. She always talked of designing fashion eventually, as she had studied it at the Barbara Bourke College of Fashion Design, and in recent years has done interiors for her family's two hotels, Kilronan Castle, Co Roscommon, and Lough Rynn Castle, in Leitrim.
In 2015, Catriona realised her dream with her first collection, Studio 54, which launched on these pages. A confident, power-dressing collection, it was a bit before its time; today, fashion is all about power. With her latest collection, primarily of blouses in luxurious silks and laces, Catriona is bringing it back to softness, romance and a bit of practicality.
"The cosmopolitan life is not so much my life now, because all I do is work!" she laughs. "I grew up surrounded by women with fabulous style. My mother has amazing style. My gran on my dad's side was a dressmaker, and made amazing clothes. Her nickname was Glamour Gran! That is where my love of quality, of luxurious fabrics, comes from."
And glamour is forever.