A visual feast fit for a queen as Irish fashion dons its glad rags
THE Irish fashion industry put its best foot forward last night and left the queen and British guests in no doubt about the stylish gene coursing through our DNA.
Queen Elizabeth, a style icon in her own right, enjoyed a visual feast at the British Irish Designer Showcase, hosted by the British Embassy at the National Convention Centre in Dublin. Fashion is economically important to both countries, with over €1bn of trade.
Last night's show, produced by 'Irish Tatler' publisher and 'Dragons' Den' new girl Nora Casey, was the ideal platform to show off our sartorial craftsmanship.
Vision, ingenuity and commercial savvy, the show had it all, from Joanne Hynes's contemporary clothes accessorised with hats by Connemara basket-weaver Joe Hogan, to Louise Kennedy's desirable frocks.
The queen also renewed acquaintance with Dublin's adopted son, designer John Rocha. She presented a CBE to the Hong Kong-born, Dublin-based designer in 2002 for services to the world of fashion.
His spring/summer collection on last night's catwalk featured the intrinsic beauty of Irish crocheted tops, coupled with modern silhouettes of georgette shorts, tulle skirts and neoprene backpacks.
Paul Costelloe chose to show looks from his forthcoming autumn/winter collection. The Dubliner has been a consistent favourite with the royals ever since Princess Diana wore one of his summer dresses on Bondi beach. Kate Middleton is a new customer and the queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips wore two of Paul's designs to the recent royal wedding.
Louise Kennedy, who has worked with the queen's grandson, Lord Linley, proved popular with the guests. Other designers featuring last night were Quin & Donnelly, Michael Leong and Aideen Bodkin.
Inclusion in the fast-paced seven-minute show was the icing on the cake for designer Deborah Veale who has dressed President Mary McAleese consistently during this royal visit.
Deborah, who has a studio in Monkstown, Dublin, was responsible for the electric blue evening outfit the President wore for the state dinner on Wednesday, the beige coat and dress she wore earlier at Croke Park, and last night's gold coat.
The queen is familiar with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen as she designed Kate Middleton's wedding dress. And McQueen was among a number of British fashion labels which featured, along with Per Una Speziale at M&S, Amanda Wakeley from Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood and Victoria Beckham from Brown Thomas, Jonathan Saunders and Ben de Lisi from Debenhams, Biba and Dickens & Jones at House of Fraser and Boodles.