Monday 19 February 2018

Bonzie: The Irish design duo with an artisan ethos

The Bonzie spring collection features soft textures, couture detailing and ruffled embellishments
The Bonzie spring collection features soft textures, couture detailing and ruffled embellishments
Tulle ivory skirk by Bonzie

Sinead Van Kampen

Waterford's own Yvonne Crotty is one half of design due Bonzie, an Irish label fast gaining a reputation for unique tailoring, quirky upcycling and vintage inspired femininity. Indepednet Woman caught up with Yvonne to get the low down on the inspiration behind the label.

When did you realise that you wanted to be a fashion designer?

My sister recalls she would get Barbies for Christmas and I would spend months dressing them in handmade frippery! I was always the art kid so I had no doubt that I was heading for Art College after school.

I had my sights set on NCAD in Dublin and after completing year one and trying different mediums, I knew that fashion was my bag!

What was the first thing you designed?

I think the day I created a set of Majorette Uniforms from a pair of mottled 70s curtains for my 8-year-old friends. I also recall marching them through our housing estate in the finished collection which I'm sure was an early attempt at a runway production, no doubt!

What's inspiring you now?

I work together with my Aunt Ger and we try to create a distinctive romantic aesthetic. Our pieces are always inspired by past eras and we try to pull in a time worn aesthetic in our embellishments and our detailing.

How would you describe your Spring 2011 collection?

Our Spring 2011 collection has a very ethereal flavour. Lots of soft textures, couture detailing, ruffled embellishments and, of course, our signature fabrics and trims. Silk, tulle, chiffon, pearls, rhinestones. We're also moving toward vintage inspired fascinators and have a new selection of handmade pieces.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

Production has always been our biggest challenge. We like to keep our brand quirky and intimate as opposed to being too commercial.

Craftsmanship and a personal approach is central to our artisan ethos and as a label it can be difficult to produce enough stock to keep up with demand. We hope to develop a ready to wear collection this year that we can offer to boutiques. At the moment we sell exclusively online and directly to our customers.

If you could choose a celebrity endorsement, who would it be and why?

Daphne Guinness every time. I have such a style crush on her. She absolutely epitomises style for me. Her individuality, vintage influences, elegance and most of all her courage. Daphne just owns her look no matter how eccentric or quirky! She is pure theatre, I can imagine that she enters a room and everyone stops to look. For me, that's fashion.

Whose collection have you really been impressed by this season?

I adore Vivienne Westwood and her 2011 collection is absolutely mind blowing. I love how Westwood blurs the line between art and fashion.

She remains a constant favourite here at Bonzie HQ.

What's one item every person should have in their closet?

I would have to say an investment piece, whether it's an amazing tailored leather jacket that can be styled a million ways or a fierce handbag that will be there for you no matter what you are wearing. I think adding one investment piece each season. An item that will take you from season to season or a piece that you will use quite a bit and get great value from.

What was your most tragic fashion moment?

As a designer I have lots of those. I think it's all part of the process. I'm experimental by nature so I often push the boat out and although the results are not always fashion savvy. I think it's important to be courageous with your look. I don't think there is any tragedy in a fashion faux pas, I think the real tragedy is in not trying. I believe fashion is fun and the boundaries aren't fixed. I'm okay with being eccentric, I don't want mass appeal and I would rather be known for being a bit kooky.

Where do you like to shop?

As a fan of the more bohemian look I like Noa Noa, Avoca, Monsoon and Anthropologie. I also like to mix in a more tattered feel and I love All Saints for this. I'm a big fan of thrift stores and I love rummaging through rails of clothing knowing that I'll take it home and make it into something new. I wear a lot of petticoats so I'm always on the look out for cotton, ruffles and vintage slips.

Where can we find you on a Sunday afternoon?

Chilling out at home with my partner Tony and our little miniature Yorkie, Gilly. I love to spend Sunday afternoon walking the beach.

It's great to put the work away for one day. My ideal Sunday would be scouring a vintage market for trinkets we can use in our designs.

Share one insider secret?

Try for vintage clothing and jewellery. There are some amazing finds and the prices are quite affordable.

Who do you most admire and why?

I have tremendous admiration for the late Alexander McQueen. He was a genius.

How would you like your clothes to be remembered?

Quirky, courageous, distinctive, elegant.

Yvonne's designs can be found at or purchased via the Bonzie

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