Friday 20 April 2018

Fashion: Siren revealed in designs to make women beautiful

Photography by Lorna Fitzsimons Fashion edited by Constance Harris

Silk-dupion corset gown, €995, Synan O’Mahony. 9-carat-gold earrings, €785; 18-carat gold-plated necklace, €2,050; gold bracelets, €350 each, all ESL
Silk-dupion corset gown, €995, Synan O’Mahony. 9-carat-gold earrings, €785; 18-carat gold-plated necklace, €2,050; gold bracelets, €350 each, all ESL

Women above size eight are not reflected in fashion media.

This results in us feeling that we are inadequate in some way. If you are a plus size - 16 and upwards - you are considered a separate market. The images generated for you portray you having fun in the  fresh air, wearing cropped trousers and a loose-fitting top.

Never as a beautiful woman, a seductive woman, or a woman full of power.

There is little to encourage us to believe our bodies are beautiful. There is no inspiration for a size-10-plus young woman to feel as relevant as her skinnier friend.

I first saw model Louise O'Reilly at an Arnotts lingerie show over a year ago. It was the first time in my career to ever see a 'plus size' model in a lingerie presentation. Sexy and stunning came to mind. It got me thinking about the other areas we never see a 'big' girl in.

Later last year, watching Synan O'Mahony's striking collection at a Design Centre show, I recognised a designer who loved women and knew how to love their bodies. The idea for our beautiful shoot today was born.

Synan, who works from his salon in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, has been designing for over twenty years. Kathryn Thomas, Caprice, Maxi, and Georgina Ahern Byrne, whose gorgeous wedding gown he designed, are all fans.

"I am inspired by music, people and fabrics," Synan tells me. "I like to get to know my customers, and they often get engaged with the process.

"Marion Fossett [of Fossett's Circus] will sit with me and we sew and watch YouTube videos of Marilyn Monroe's dresses being auctioned. I love that."

Synan trained in Limerick, Dublin and the UK. He spent several years learning the craft of corseting in the Theatre Royal in Windsor. His corseting distinguishes him from the crowd.

"I make bespoke for women of all sizes. Slimmer women can need some shaping, as much as the larger woman," he tells me. "I often build corsets into dresses - you can manipulate the body a little bit, to give a woman the kind of shape she would love for herself. My aim as a designer is to make women happy and beautiful."

For Louise, Synan expressed his versatility. There were wrap dresses a la Yves St Laurent; dreamy silk and chiffon two-piece ensembles, which, though slightly Downton-ish, featured a high-on-the thigh slit; and gorgeous bodice dresses featuring miles of silk chiffon.

As our shoot day progressed, model Louise became noticeably happier and more relaxed. "I never knew Synan existed," she told me, beaming. "I never knew there was someone in Ireland who made for a shape like mine. I have never felt so beautiful."

That is what fashion should be about. That is what Synan O'Mahony is about.

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