One-on-one time with one of the country's most influential fashion buyers is not the typical experience of a new designer. But this is exactly what Create, Brown Thomas's annual showcase celebrating the best in Irish design, provides.
Now in its ninth year, the installation and pop-up store launches on Tuesday, July 2, in Brown Thomas's Dublin store.
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The brainchild of Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery, Create offers the designers chosen the chance to show, and sell, their creations on the shop floor alongside some of the world's most prestigious international labels.
This year's showcase includes 30 designers, comprising ready-to-wear, jewellery, accessories, millinery, handbags and homewares.
Each successful candidate was required to create a 25-piece collection.
Finding as-yet-undiscovered Irish design talent is the driving force behind Create, explains Shelly, who this year saw 70 prospective candidates. "It's not just about looking at what's out there, it's about researching what's unknown, discovering newness," she says.
The scheme also has an important mentoring aspect. Shelly advises designers on how to achieve the correct balance between the commercial and the creative that will ensure their work is of retail standard.
Applicants receive a thorough briefing from Ireland's leading luxury store on the levels of quality required in terms of finish, presentation, pricing and production.
On occasion, Shelly will work with a designer over a period of time, encouraging and advising them on the development of their collection. While they may not meet the standard required that year, candidates often successfully return at a later date.
"We have the door open at all times; I don't ever write off anyone," says Shelly.
Accessories and interiors are always strong points of Irish design; finding designers who can create meaty ready-to-wear collections is more challenging.
It is something Shelly has prioritised.
"It's really hard to find new, up-and-coming ready-to-wear, with a point of difference," Shelly explains.
"Something that is fashiony and sophisticated. For Create, it's about the new up-and-coming."
Create has been at the forefront of the new attitude towards traditional Irish knitwear, which has seen it move from tourist-shop fare, to something most of us include in our wardrobes, perhaps worn over a floral midi - see Faye Dinsmore's knitwear collection for Create, featured on today's cover. In continued partnership with NCAD, the Brown Thomas 'Designer to Watch' bursary prize-winner for 2019, Heather Gilroy, will also exhibit her final-year collection, titled, 'Among the Flat Pink Roses'.
Photography by Andrew Nuding
Styling by Darren Feeney
Words by Liadan Hynes
Sunday Indo Life Magazine