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Bairbre Power on fashion adventures, loyalties and pushing the boat out

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Last week, I received a call which got me thinking about fashion loyalities and what happens when you find someone who just 'gets you' in style terms.

"Hallo," said the caller in a deep, modulated tone, "this is Marian Finucane." What followed was a generous 'tribute' call, full of fashion honesty, from the RTÉ broadcaster who explained how she had missed Richard Lewis' final fashion show after 50 years in business.

Marian explained how the designer has coaxed her out of black and made outfits for several special occasions when she "pushed the boat out" like her first Jacobs TV award, appearing on The Late Late Show, her son's graduation and, most recently, her wedding in January.

The public never got to see Marian's wedding dress, so I was particularly interested to hear her describe it. "The jersey dress was knee-length with long sleeves and he made a jacket in a very warm purple wool which he bound in satin. I'm just stone mad about Richard," Marian volunteered. I suspect her admiration has been fashioned, not just because his lovely manner puts you at ease, but because of their adventures together - like the story she told me of his outfit for her first honorary doctorate.

"The dress was maroon and Richard said he had seen a very nice pair of boots in Penneys so I scooted around to Penneys and there they were the boots, they were either €12 or €14, they were perfect and they are still on the go," the broadcaster laughed.

"I have a dress that I wear that I got from him 15 years ago and it still looks terrific. Richard doesn't do fashion, as much as a particular style. He been warning me that I'm to wear the purple (wedding) jacket with jeans. He's a great believer that you should wear the clothes."

After Marian's call, I got thinking about how we rarely commit hairdresser infidelity and ditto when it comes to make-up brands, but when it comes to clothes, we tend to play the field. However, as Marian's experience underlined, finding a designer or a dress-maker who 'gets you,' brings its own rewards.

Some occasions don't call for a bespoke experience such that offered by Richard Lewis or Niall Tyrrell whose new collection is very impressive (see right), but made-to-measure is very liberating. In the ready-to-wear field, it pays to find good independent boutiques who, if you're lucky, will order clothes with you in mind. And whatever you do, always make sure to check out the personal shopping service in department stores. Don't be nervous and take advice.

He tells me I have to wear my wedding jacket with jeans at the weekends.

Hand's up who loves a big, squishy skirt cinched in at the waist, worn with a smart white shirt? Niall Tyrrell's new SS/15 collection features a stunning printed, peacock blue, full pleated skirt (above centre) for €895, nicely teamed here with a ribbed, swiss cotton shirt, €595, obi belt, €220, and suede shoes, €172.95, from Cinders. Niall's collection is designed and made in Ireland and styles include easy-fit and tailored dresses, long and short jackets to suit different body shapes, and silk and cotton shirts. Embellished coats in lace and textured fabrics have a relaxed, oversized feel. The collection includes brocade and lace skirts worn with silk and jersey tunics

BUY: nialltyrrell.com, (01) 498 3377

@bairbrepower

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