Creatures of Comfort - the latest Paul Costelloe Living Studio collection
The latest Paul Costelloe Living Studio collection for Dunnes Stores is a design story big on contemporary tailoring and comfort - from the easy, thrown-on glamour of a 100pc silk leopard-print blouse to a flattering, A-line skirt in luxurious leather
Paul Costelloe is all about long- evity, and I'm not just talking about his five decades on the international fashion scene. Tailoring is his distinctive handwriting and, in a world of fast fashion, Costelloe still honours 'the cut' - but also ramps up the 'comfort' factor. This twin focus is especially visible in his latest collection for Dunnes Stores, which caters for the woman who wants hero pieces such as a great winter coat or luxury separates, mixed with other, more affordable brands, for an individual look.
"This season, our leopard-print pussy- bow blouse (above left) looks great, but it also feels gorgeous to wear, in 100pc silk, and looks equally well with black trousers or our black leather skirt," says Paul. He predicts it'll be a hit because of its length.
"This skirt, in 100pc Italian leather, is mid-calf, three-quarter length. I really think things are getting longer. The shape is slightly A-line - it is not a pencil skirt - so it is a little kinder to wear and has a casual silhouette, which is what we like."
It was the Irishman's gift for sleek tailoring that drew the attention of his most famous customer, the late Princess Diana, but Paul readily admits the nature of the 'ladylike tailored look' has changed. "I don't think it will ever go back formal the way it used to be," says Paul. "People are wearing a tailored dress with a pair of trainers, so I still think it's how you mix formal with casual. That is the great fun now, but your classic two-piece suit ... I don't think that's going to return for a very long time.
"There is a whole generation that knows how to mix and match, from Paul Costelloe to H&M to Zara. People are shopping around and mixing fabrics and styles. Generally, they want comfort. When you are working, you want to be yourself. That's why our knitwear is so strong. We do so much business in knitwear, it's just phenomenal - especially our poncho. Why? Because women can just throw it over and can go to the supermarket, go out in the evening. We're becoming so practical. I think multi-functional products are what people want."
Lovely touches in the collection are the felt wool with silk lining by Christys' Hats - an iconic, respected hat-maker in London - made under the Paul Costelloe brand. Paul's dresses include a flattering A-line with a kick in the sleeve. "It's a day- into-evening dress in lovely pink blush."
Speaking of colour, Paul says, "I really believe in the whole 'total look' and mixing the colours through your tights and accessories." The artist in him is thrilled to see how colours like yellow ochre are proving popular, in the Liberty print-style Art Deco silk shirt worn (previous page) under a navy coat with gold buttons.
"I think it's always worth going out to buy something a little more special, a little bit more expensive, that you will get years out of. That's still well worthwhile. Men do it, but they do it because they are lazy and don't want to go back shopping again," says Paul.
"We definitely have a very loyal Costelloe customer. When the collection hits the shop floor, it sells."