Bairbre Power’s review of the collection
Peter O’Brien’s debut fashion collection for Arnotts resonates with his design aesthetic: strong tailoring, clean lines and virtually no embellishment.
It’s an homage to classical dressing, and represents the complete antithesis of the blingy excesses of the Celtic Tiger, mistaking flesh for fabric and eulogising all things false — tans, nails and wearing other women’s hair!
The collection is full of intriguing contrasts, a clever play on hard vs soft, tailored wool crepes and sheer, buttery chiffons. While there are strong, masculine tailoring undertones, a subtle sexuality emerges by juxtaposing the feminine, pleatedfront blouse with men’s favourite, turned-up trousers.
If quirky and flirty is what you like, POB at Arnotts is not for you. It’s about cover-up, and the cornerstone is an investment coat to last for years. There are four, mostly in black and navy; the most expensive is €495, while a camel wrap belt style is €425.
The two trouser styles will appeal to different body types and ages: a skinny pant with grosgrain ribbon down the side and a wide-legged version, both of which mix and match seamlessly with all three, silk chiffon blouses in a lovely buttery camel colour — a warm winter hue for Irish complexions — and also in cream.
Ribbed grosgrain ribbon subtly defines the female silhouette in a slimline day dress, one of three in the collection, which also features a well-cut black skirt. There is only one jacket in the collection — a fitted, high-collar, edge-to-edge style in wool crepe with grosgrain at the all-important six ‘dart’ lines, which are the tailoring arteries to achieve a great shape.
Working with the 17 different looks for our shoot, my favourite of the three dresses was the black one with scalloped neckline. Pop a cardi over it for daytime, and no need for jewellery at night — the neckline does all the talking.
The least expensive pieces are the white poplin wrap shirt (€130) or the collarless version in black (€110). While this collection is more expensive than Peter’s previous ones at alwear, production is limited, with just 50 of these shirts made and 70 of the coats and dresses. Certainly limits the risk of meeting a twin, which is the usual problem with high-viz designer collaborations.