Saturday 16 December 2017

Emma Manley's rock chick collection

Constance Harris

It's been quite a few years since I have written about Rock Chick as a vibe in fashion.

Seeing Emma Manley's gorgeous, laid-back, a little bit grungy, a little bit cool, a whole lot luxurious, spring/summer 2014 Manley collection has put me in mind that we need some Rock Chick in our lives again.

Manley was launched three years ago in Bow boutique, then in Aisling Maher in Adare, where it attracted the design- and trend-discerning crowd of city-dwelling twentysomethings working in architecture, photography and fashion.

In the last year, I've seen an evolution in Manley, one that has meant the label has something to offer a broader scope of hip women -- younger and older.

"I feel the same about our aesthetic, in that we are still true to what we set out to create first -- comfortable, cool clothes," Emma Manley tells me when we discuss her collection. "But it has definitely matured with me. There is a little more of the girly feel about it than there used to be. I put a huge emphasis now on more beautiful fabrics, because I feel fabrics tell a story in themselves."

Emma Manley has always struck me as a 'thinking' designer. She thinks about life, as well as the industry. About meaning, as well as trends. She is fiercely entrepreneurial. But she also loves family and always pays credit to her mum -- who worked in fashion, too -- as inspiring her and giving her great practical grounding.


"This collection was based on journeys taken," Emma says. "Physical journeys, but more emotional journeys, really. The distressed leather looks very like a map, so it reflected what I wanted to say about emotional journeys."

Leather and suede are Emma's passion fabrics, consistent to her collections. This season there are matt, patent and distressed metallic leathers in jackets, tops, shorts and skirts. In the early days, she played a lot with sweatshirt fabrics -- which are so prevalent now -- for her basics. Today, she has also moved onto more sensual, feminine fabrics for skirts, dresses and tops. I love the Erin patent-leather skirt on this page, and the A-line-cut Austen dress in white rayon crepe.

Manley is a godsend for those fed up with pencil skirts, as there are flattering A-line skirts of various lengths.


Considering the entire collection is made in Dublin, and the embellishment is hand-done, often very complicated and time-consuming, the range is well-priced: basics from €150, jackets from €350, dresses from €340.

"I am all about comfort," Emma says. "It's not fast-paced, trend-led fashion. It's timeless luxury that's a bit cool."

Manley rocks.

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