Thursday 19 September 2019

First look at the new season edit from Kerry’s fashion emporium MacBees

'Joska' mustard, blue and cream check coat, €695
'Joska' mustard, blue and cream check coat, €695
'Gellert' jersey top, €210; 'Inec' jersey skirt, €240
Satin viscose top with blue and mustard crane print, €210
Blue and burgundy check coat, €665
'Yara' wing dress with blue and sand crane print in rayon viscose, €420

You can't get through a conversation about fashion in Kerry without someone mentioning MacBees.

It's been a style institution in Killarney since 1984, when Mary McBride  first opened the store on New Street. While her daughter, Aoife, grew up in the industry, she rebelled against it by getting a degree in civil engineering from UCD. However, Aoife soon realised that a hard hat and high-vis were not for her, and for the last decade she has been doing the buying along with Mary and store manager Doranne Hickey.

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Mary McBride is a true legend in Irish retail but recently she made the decision to take a step back from the business and is now handing the reins over to the other two women. Aoife describes the development as "exciting and daunting, as MacBees is held in such high esteem throughout the country. Doranne and I have both been part of the buying team for over 15 years so the handwriting of the company will not change - but there are definitely exciting things to come," she says.

A hint of that newness arrived onto MacBees' rails this month. They came across Rodebjer in Copenhagen and knew straight away it was for their Irish store and secured it exclusively in Ireland. The backstory to the label, which has a strong handwriting in both silhouettes and prints, began 20 years ago in New York with Swede Carin Rodebjer. Carin was spotted in Manhattan wearing her handmade designs, and she started selling her fashion to friends and soon stores in New York and in Stockholm.

Blue and burgundy check coat, €665
Blue and burgundy check coat, €665

The Swedish/New York label embodies strength, craftsmanship and a modern attitude that sits perfectly in their store. The AW19 collection includes check coats in scuba-backed Italian wool. I loved the standout checks, fluid and easy-to-wear jersey separates, a crane-print winged dress, and for work wear there is striking, minimalist black suiting.

Aoife says that when buying each season for the store on New Street, the philosophy is "to keep one step ahead of the fashion pack by seeking out timeless, elegant and out-there collections that bring vibrance and excitement to the shop floor".

"Our focus is never on trends but always on design, ingenuity and that certain something that piques our interest," adds Aoife - who, in addition to being involved with MacBees, has worked in the costume department on films such as The Guard and Johnny English, and in creative design for events. "A few months ago, I was lucky enough to design the photo booth for Marc Jacobs' wedding in NYC with über art director Jo Sedley - making the Hadid sisters pose with a basket of kittens and Kate Moss hold a super-sized martini glass has to go down as a career high," says Aoife, who recently completed a master's in fashion photography from the London College of Fashion.

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