Monday 20 November 2017

Focus on Irish Fashion: Delphine Grandjouan

A design by Delphine Grandjouan
A design by Delphine Grandjouan

Sinead Van Kampen

Bridal design specialist Delphine Grandjouan has been dressing the nations blushing brides since 2004. Based just outside Tralee, French born and Irish Bred Delphine also designs couture cocktail and occasion dresses.

We caught up with the former philosophy student to talk classic cinema, shopping in Paris and how to stay warm and stylish in winter.

When did you realise that you wanted to be a designer?

My dream was to be a dancer. Things didn't turn out that way and I ended up studying philosophy. During that time I started to draw a lot and paint on silks. Having done a range of silk scarfs I felt that I should make clothes filled with life and with movement. It does feel like life has gone full circle.

What was the first thing you designed?

I tried my hand at making a top when I was about 7. It turned out such a disaster I swore I'd never do that again. The first thing I consider a true creation was a series of huge triangular, caftan-like dresses incorporating figurative handpainted pieces.??

What is inspiring you at the moment?

Classic Cinema has always been a great source of inspiration. Styles of the 1920's and the 1950's. The 20's for the freedom, flow, and the androgeneous qualities, and the other for it's homage to the female form. I also have a fondness for the quirky and a particularly English type of humour. Think Audrey Hepburn meets Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton!

??How would you describe your Autumn 2011 collection?

I have just created a ready to wear collection and went for a pure 60's feel with egg-shaped knee-length dresses with front and back lace square neck detail. I've added snappy little shrug accessories that can be added to a dress and change it completely. I also added sportswear elements to delicate little lace tops which give them a day-wear feel. Classical meets whimsical...definitely youthful and romantic.??

What has been your biggest challenge to date ?

I could say winning the Best Bridal Designer Award for 2 years in a row was a great challenge. They were landmarks for me as a designer and for the business itself. I think everyday life is the real challenge. Finding joy in the relationships with each individual customer and taking the time to find out who they are in order to express them in a creation. It has demanded a lot of dedication and determination.

If you could choose a celebrity endorsement, who would it be ?

Ingrid Bergman, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. All those glamorous stars of old are constant muses and inspirations. They are poise and fashion personified and each one is coloured by their special personality. If I could I would have dressed them all. In modern terms Cate Blanchett is someone whose sense of style of never falters. She is at once energy and elegance personified and for me she would be my aspirational choice. ??

Whose collection have you really been impressed by this season ?

I was priviledged to see Sharon Wauchob's Spring 2011 catwalk in Paris last autumn and I have to say I was both impressed and touched by the strength and delicacy of her creations. She combines shadings, textiles and tailoring that express a very elemental sense of femininity.??

What is the one item everyone should have in their closet?

I constantly suffer from the cold so I would add a piece I have finally managed to incorporate to my collection, a little shoulder shrug. You can dress up any outfit, keep warm and it makes you look good!??

What has been your most tragic fashion moment?

I accompanied my dad to a party once and dressed all in black with a handpainted scarf as a wraparound skirt. Somehow it got undone on the dance floor and gracefully floated down to the ground. I was so thankful I was wearing opaque black lace tights when I suddenly realized what had happened!

Where do you like to shop?

I rarely shop unless I rush in and out of Penneys or TK Max to grab a T-shirt. I have what I need at home for special occasions. If I didn't I would shop in Le Printemps in Paris which has the best display of designer clothes ever. My most enjoyable shopping experience is going round the lace and fabric showrooms in Paris. There is never time enough and the temptations are difficult to resist!

Share one insider secret?

I think I should quote Elsa Schiaparelli who famously said that a woman should either wear very cheap or very expensive clothes.

How would you like your designs to be remembered?

It has once been said that my designs combined romantic vintage with the exuberance of youth and a sense of poetic modernity, and I think that describes them fairly. Most of all I would like them remembered as something that brought a sense of softness and harmony to the world and added a tiny share to its beauty.

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