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Irish fashion that's so in vogue

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Caroline Kilkenny dress

Caroline Kilkenny dress

Aideen Bodkin outfit

Aideen Bodkin outfit

Heidi Higgins

Heidi Higgins

Niamh O'Neill outfit

Niamh O'Neill outfit

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Caroline Kilkenny dress

The best of Irish fashion comes under the spotlight at the Irish National Ploughing Championships this week.

Forget talk about wellies, silage and milk quotas and lose yourself in the colour and textures and sheer desirability of the new Irish collections.

This season, Irish designers have excelled at introducing newness to their collections in terms of fabrics and colour, silhouettes and textures and the positive upturn in the economy has given them opportunity to expand their creative vision.

After five years in business, Heidi Higgins from Portlaoise celebrates Autumn /Winter 2014 by rolling out her biggest collection ever and Heidi will be a guest at the Irish Independent marquee at the Ploughing at 1pm tomorrow, where she will be talking about wardrobe trends and giving tips on how to achieve a great outfit.

"I'm thrilled with my latest collection not just because it is my biggest to date but because I'm using lots of new fabrics like jersey along with silks, lurex tweeds and velvets," says Heidi.

"My collection always starts with the fabric and using jersey is a new innovation for me but I still maintain my love for Italian wools.

"People's fashion perspective has changed over the last few years and now what one woman might wear to a formal work do, another woman might wear to a wedding and another woman might wear it to the races," she adds.

With all of us looking for longevity from our wardrobe purchases, Heidi has become well used to giving advice to shoppers, whether it is at her own store in Portlaoise or with customers at Dublin's Brown Thomas. This is why we have invited her to come along to our Q&A tomorrow at which she will talk the audience through some of her latest collection and offer advice on how to personalise your look and move beyond the wedding 'rig out'.

"I'm especially pleased with my winter coats and how you can personalise them by adding an obi belt. Another feature I have added are pockets. I've listened to women and it's the one thing that they always mention, that and sleeves, and I think there is nothing better than a woman who looks relaxed wearing a dress with pockets and she is extra confident because her arms are not on show," says Heidi.

The designer's entry into fashion has impacted on her family too. Heidi's father Leo, a cattle dealer, often offers to do emergency drop-offs for his daughter, both to fashion shoots and to her stockists around the country, if she is stuck.

"My dad's world has suddenly gone to being all cattle to having a fashion element thrown in," says Heidi who is embracing a little of the farming world since marrying Gearoid Maher, whose family have a farm near Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Celia Holman Lee is a long-time advocate of buying Irish and you can meet the legendary fashion stage at the Irish Independent marquee today at 2.30pm where we will be chatting to her about her favourite looks from the new Irish collections.

The veteran model agency owner has broken through the glass ceiling when it comes to dressing styles for the older woman and Celia has a spectacular eye for spotting new talents as they make their way up through the fashion industry here.

Niamh O'Neill is a perfect case in point. Like Heidi Higgins, Niamh trained with Louise Kennedy in Dublin and this Dunleer native is fast becoming a big hit with customers looking for feminine tailoring with a modern twist.

Niamh's AW14 collection, which we will have on show at the Irish Independent marquee, has proved a major sell through already at the Kilkenny stores which also stock stellar Irish designers such as Aideen Bodkin, Caroline Kilkenny, Fiona Heaney of Feeg and Luke Lovely.

"My collection was inspired by architecture, people like Frank Gehry and I like the way he wraps curves around his buildings," says Niamh.

Going beyond the new collections and the way the designers approach them, it's fascinating to discover that while Heidi starts with her fabrications, Niamh works out her silhouettes entirely in black and then works them out in colour.

"It's the way I do things and it's being working for me," says Niamh who married at Easter. Her husband's family are farmers in Enniskillen.

"I start out by desiging in black but I've learned that not all women like that colour and this season, I thought if I'm going for a red, it should be a true red.

"I love very ladylike clothing which is structured and I have a passion for accessories and always style my shoots with hats and gloves," says Niamh.

Leading the way on the accessories front is Paula Rowan. The Dublin designer is turning heads across Europe. Her fabulous, butter-soft leather gloves have featured in shoots in all the top international glossies and I'm very happy to report that we will have a pair of her gloves to give away each day at the Irish Independent marquee so be sure to call over to find out details of the competition and, unlike voting day, you enter as many times as you want.

Irish fashion is at the forefront of the latest AW14 buy at the Kilkenny chain of stores and, in addition to clothes, accessories play a large part in their customer loyality.

To reward that, Kilkenny have given us an Orla Kiely handbag to give away at the Irish fashion showcase at the Irish Independent marquee at the Ploughing Championships.

Hailed as the Queen of Print, Orla has seduced the worlds of fashion and interiors with her fabulous genius and if you would like to add one of her bags to your wardrobe, call by during the week to be in with a chance to win.

If you are going to the Ploughing Championships, make sure to call in to the Irish Independent marquee for a Nespresso coffee at any time. You can find us at Block No1, Row 22, Stand 314.

Irish Independent