ARC's angels: behind the scenes of the fashion show with a cause
Ahead of Ireland's biggest fashion show of the year, Bairbre Power goes behind the scenes for a preview of the innovative creations and talks to some of the designers supporting the ARC Cancer Support runway show
It's an annual favourite of ours at Weekend magazine, when we go behind the scenes of the ARC extravaganza to photograph some of the outfits from designers taking part in Ireland's biggest fashion show of the year.
All proceeds from the show, produced by Eddie Shanahan, go to the ARC Cancer Support Centre, which provides a range of professional support, counselling and complementary therapy services to men and women affected by cancer (see page 20).
Couturier Helen Cody will open Thursday's show with her distinctive imagination and craftsmanship. Last year's ARC show was a very difficult one for Helen. After years supporting the cancer charity, the Dubliner had just been diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer and was facing immediate surgery in an emotional month which also saw her get married and spend her honeymoon in St Vincent's Hospital. Twelve months later, Helen returns to the RDS as an ARC Ambassador, and having successfully recovered, her personal journey battling cancer will also be matched on the night by other survivors, like the ARC Angels who will take to the catwalk.
Helen's former intern, Sarah Murphy, has created a special 12-piece finale for the show. Sarah has been making waves since she graduated from Griffith College Dublin in 2016 with a multi-award-winning knitwear collection and the highest fashion design degree ever awarded by the college. She has featured in Create at Brown Thomas and her current collection is sold at Havana in Donnybrook. Sarah's full-skirted red dress is made from laser-cut chiffon, tufted onto the back of net. It is part of her pre-fall 2019 collection, which was inspired by William Shakespeare's Richard III and features a mix of slogan T-shirts, as well as evening wear.
Sarah explains that she didn't study Richard III at school and the inspiration came one night when she was watching a programme about Richard, who was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. "I was watching that Channel 4 documentary, where they dug him up in a car park. I got this mad idea to make female versions of the kings from all of the works of Shakespeare and that is what the collection is about," says Sarah.
In an exciting first, Leonora Ferguson will be debuting her first ever clothing range, with six pieces worn with the highly intricate lace-wire headpieces for which she is famous. A textiles graduate, Leonara used silk noil in the cream dress (pictured left), which has a lovely texture and dullness, yet it boasts a subtle sheen when it catches the light. The long dress features a circular inset of gold, laser-cut Piñatex. This interesting, ethical leather substitute is a sustainable textile made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product from the harvest. Leonora has worked in costume for productions such as HBO's Game of Thrones, Universal's Dracula Untold and, most recently, Syfy's Krypton.
Helena Malone's dramatic draped statement-piece jewellery is where her 'Celestial Mechanics' collection meets her 'Pure Baroque' pearl collection. It features a series of handmade, hand-forged silver pieces with pearls and chrysoprase stones, all completely natural in colour.
Helena explains: "I wanted it to evoke and signify the flow of seaweed and the lovely flow of the sea , just a gentle movement - but a firm movement, so it keeps its shape."
At the ARC show, Helena will be showcasing three new statement pieces for the first time, so her keen collectors should watch out. She will also be dressing the ARC Angels for their walk down the runway.
The slimline, red two-piece comes from Helen Hayes, who has a keen interest in couture finishes and techniques, and a life-long love of traditional, hand-crafted finishes. The duchess satin was cut with carpenter's tools and the squares were folded down individually, ending up half their original size. Sculpted like a patchwork, the effect is very architectural and the surface detail is fascinating.
Other designers taking part in the ARC show include Mona Swims, a resort-wear collection designed by Carla Johnson, who had just returned from a successful New York Fashion Week. Seasoned participant Sara O'Neill will be joined by fellow Northern Irish designer Fintan Mulholland, who will show his exquisite knitwear for the first time at the show. London-based Irish designer Colin Burke will make his first appearance at the show this year, too, with some wonderful knitwear. Rebecca Marsden is returning from London to show in Ireland for the first time in 18 months. Watch out for new names like Four Threads by Alanagh Clegg, artist designers Jill & Gill and innovator extraordinaire Alla Sinkevich!
The full line-up of Irish talent also includes Amie Egan, Theo+George, FAO Millinery, a collaboration by Heidi Higgins and Aoife Kirwan, Niamh O'Neill, Charlotte Lucas, Aoife Mullane and a selection from the CIFD/DCCOI Collaboration Project.
A selection of new season footwear from Brown Thomas will be used to accessorise the looks.
Photography: Frank McGrath
Styled by: Eddie Shanahan
Models: Simona Va and Katie Geoghan
from Catwalk Models
Hair: Suzie Dowling for Peter Mark