Tuesday 17 July 2018

Fashion: Modern luxury


Constance Harris

I love when a designer seems to not only find their stride, but take off with it. A bold new confidence exudes from designer Caroline Kilkenny's latest collection; it abounds with strength and self-possessed sexuality.

"I feel this collection is designed for the eyes - the colours that run through it, and the materials, which are glossy, very glamorous, very tactile. You would be drawn towards the fabrics," Caroline tells me.

"There is a bit of a Middle Eastern feel to the collection in the jewel tones, the long lengths, the metallic finishes that are throughout and the jacquard finish on the coat. I spent a good few years in the Middle East, and with this collection I feel it has surfaced," she adds.

I have always found Arab cultures to have an inherent sensuality. It was something old Hollywood loved to exploit.

For this autumn, Caroline's use of slinky jersey, such as in the bottle-green dress on page 36 - which drapes from a metallic feature at the back, down the legs, finishing with an asymmetrical hem - is like something a movie star would wear to a 1920s soiree.

In fact, though Caroline is generally known for stylish work wear and 'day-casion' dressing, this collection features a lot of party and evening wear.

"Yes, there is quite a lot of evening wear in this collection. I feel there is definitely a feeling of optimism around again. Customers are looking forward to new collections for an event they have coming up," Caroline explains.

Caroline dots the collection with little faux-fur pieces, such as cropped capes and cowls, to further add to the feel of luxury and sensuality. "The faux-fur short capes can be used to dress up an evening outfit and to make a day outfit look quirky," she explains. "There are three collections within the collection. I played with length, so there are shorter, neoprene dresses and there are longer, ankle-grazing lengths on some of the dresses. I feel there is a capsule collection within the collection, in which some of the clothes are dressier and feature fluid, liquid-like fabric and have a bit of a red-carpet vibe, while others are a bit more playful."

The other strong aspect of this collection is Caroline's day-wear separates. Unlike most Irish designers who have long focused on dresses, Caroline has always done separates. I love her slinky blouses, mannish trousers and tailored skirts, which always have an original, slightly flirty touch.

"Autumn/winter is an enjoyable collection for me - it is often more tailoring-based and I love that," Caroline says. "My customers are discerning and they love difference."

That love of tailoring is very much in evidence. The cut of some of the dresses and separates is sharp and modern, while in others it is draped and sensual.

Caroline Kilkenny's is a collection that takes you places while making you look and feel gorgeous.

Photography by  Peter Evers

Fashion edited by Constance Harris

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