A love affair stretching from the Aran Islands to Asia
Irish designer Natalie Coleman has her eye set on introducing Asian customers to our fashion heritage and elements of Aran knits told through whisper-light tulle.
The Monaghan-born designer took the classic diamond and oval Aran knit patterns for her new SS17 collection and reimagined them in feminine clouds of tulle in pink, red and black.
"The idea was inspired by an old photograph of a young boy from the Aran Islands wearing a knitted jumper with curls," explained.
Natalie's romantic SS17 collection is called Donkey Love "and is about a girl growing up on Inis Meáin, making her own clothes and planning to sneak over to the mainland to meet a boy".
"We hand-pleated and made frills and then hand-stitched them on in diamond and oval shapes on layers of tulle. All the curls were cut out in strips and rolled by hand," said Natalie, whose interest in Aran knitwear started in 2011 when she did an internship with the Inis Meáin Knitting Company.
Last May, Natalie went back to the Aran Islands with her five-week-old daughter Eden for a weekend of daydreaming. Inspiration flowed and her latest collection showcased in Dublin this week and goes to showrooms in Hong Kong and Paris next month.
"The Asian Pacific market is opening up for me. I'm stocked in three shops in Hong Kong and Taiwan and I have a new one in Tokyo. I think what they really appreciate is that it's contemporary and it has heritage. I've worked with Molloy & Sons and they developed an enlarged houndstooth and basketweave tweed for me.
"The Asian stores loved that you could tell that there was tradition in the fabrics and in the colour choices and that's who we are as a label.
"We want to be seen as contemporary and influenced by our Irishness. That's why we worked with re-imagining traditional elements in knitwear but in gorgeous tulles. It is new and fresh but we still have a connection to where we are from."