Fashion: House of angels
'Everyone seems to be talking about angels just now," says photographer, Mike Bunn. We were discussing his latest artistic collaboration with couture bridal wear designer, Delphine Grandjouan, of the House of Delphine. "Angels are very in vogue. I guess it must be the recession," he adds.
After the emotional devastation of the First World War, which wiped out an entire generation of young men, the Edwardians became passionate about fairies. It was a default mechanism -- the human need to create innocence and hope again in a society that had lost it all.
Though we haven't lost the kind of lives they did, everyone, in some way, has lost the life they dreamt of.
Angels give hope. They exist in many spiritual systems, not just Christianity. They are a way of asking for divine support, without being part of a religious affiliation.
"My elder sister passed away in Genoa a year and a half ago, and she was buried there," Mike explains. "After, when I looked around the cemetery -- and I don't want to sound morbid -- I saw it was a work of art.
"It was deeply moving. It was like my sister guided me there, to find it.
"Since then, I have wanted to tell my angel story. It was like I was doing it for her and for the family."
Delphine Grandjouan has often been described as being a fairy, having a near-divine skill with the draping of cloth. She is a self-taught couturier.
From Nantes, France, she made her home in Ireland 20 years ago. In a cottage near Tralee, she and her mother, Christine, create the most divine bridal wear that truly does transform the bride-to-be from mortal woman to magical creature.
I have seen snapshots of those brides in the moment when they first see themselves in their final dress and veil that was created for them by Delphine and Christine; they looked mesmerisingly beautiful in a serene way.
And, yes, near-angelic.
"When I was in Nantes recently, I was showing pictures of my brides to my cousin, and he thought they looked like angels. And it is true -- many look very angelic," Delphine told me, of her part in the collaboration. "I was very inspired by that. And the Art Nouveau movement -- it is so very feminine.
"I am always inspired by the work of Madame Vionnet's early design. She constructed a lot of the designs on the mannequin, as I do, so the construction can be ornate, but without the appearance of complication. I wanted it to be restful. I felt it was more conceptual, pure design."
Marriage is an act of hope and a commitment to growing a future together. Designed by the House of Delphine, the bride's symbol of that hope -- the bridal dress -- is blessed with divine grace.
- All gowns and headpieces are available to order from the House of Delphine, tel: (087) 648-8901 or see www.houseofdelphine.com
- Delphine Grandjouan will attend the Bride of the Year Show, Main Hall, RDS, D4, on January 25-26. Her work will also be featured in the finale of the Irish Designer Fashion Show celebrating the 20th anniversary of ARC Cancer Support in the RDS Concert Hall on March 10
- Photography by Mike Bunn using an Olympus OMD
- Styling and hair by Bryan Murphy for Kazumi, see www.kazumihair.ie
- Make-up by Kathryn O'Neill using Shiseido, see www.kathrynoneillmakeupartist.com
- Models: Rosie Elise Smyth and Emma Carey at Morgan The Agency
- Later this month, Mike Bunn will hold an exhibition of the work featured on our pages, Volto Angelo (Angel Face), as well as other pieces, in the City Assembly House. It will run until February
- Thanks to the Irish Georgian Foundation for the use of the City Assembly House, 58 South William St, D2; for further information, see www.igs.ie