Sunday 18 February 2018

Modern times: How Irish designer Aideen Bodkin's label hits the spot

Coat, €455, Aideen Bodkin
Coat, €455, Aideen Bodkin

This time last year, I was visiting Killarney so, of course, I had to pop into MacBees. It was during that time of transition: the end of the winter sale and the start of the spring collections.

During the many hours I spent trying on fabulous winter bargains in the Co Kerry boutique, women came through the doors of MacBees in their droves, seeking new collections to wear to a wedding. The odd few came because they knew the best of the new collections would be gone if they didn't strike now. It was the same scenario, another day, in the brilliant McElhinneys of Ballybofey, Co Donegal.

Irish designer Aideen Bodkin is the label that seems to hit the spot perfectly for occasion wear. Every season, she gets more succinct, but I think her current collection is her best yet; it's colourful, sharply cut and tastefully, subtly, sexy.

"It is a leaner, tighter collection than before, definitely," Aideen says. "We wanted it to be modern and clean. We wanted to offer the customer something different and new - fresh."

Aideen's background is tailoring, which means that her fit, cut and shape will always be second to none. Her love of fine fabrics and innovation, especially this season, means the collection looks dynamic and contemporary. The collection features separates (trousers, skirts, tops), collarless coats for versatility and modernity, as well as oodles of gorgeous dresses.

"We wanted to make sure the collection still had our handwriting, but that it had a more modern touch to it," Aideen explains. "The fabrics were expensive, and a lot more detailed and complex, so we simplified the lines, and added pops of colour.

"It is probably sharper than collections we did before. There isn't that softer edge to it that we are known for. It is not all sweet and soft. It was inspired by the architecture of Miami, that slightly art-deco feel, but it's very modern at the same time. It's still occasion wear, but not overly dressy."

Aideen is on the button in delivering modernity this season. We are coming out of a recession - we need to look sharp, focused and above all, reflect the optimism that change is coming.

The good change coming to Aideen was the launch, late last year, of her second line, Dress, a dress range which is lower-priced than her main line.

"I was approached by the Kilkenny Shop at the Galway races to do a collaboration with them. We tried to do something geared towards a less formal look," Aideen explains. "Dress is designed for a slightly younger market. It is slightly more exaggerated in design - some dresses are much longer, or much shorter, than in the main Aideen Bodkin range. It's about nice, strong colour and simple shapes. One dress that would work for a lot of different occasions - and that's affordable."

Aideen Bodkin does it all, beautifully.

Photography by Anita Sadowska

Styling by Heidi Walsh

Fashion edited by Constance  Harris

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