Tuesday 15 October 2019

Holiday state of mind: suitcase chic from Carolyn Donnelly at Dunnes Stores

Carolyn Donnelly's latest 'The Edit' collection at Dunnes Stores is summer chic meets super practical - just like the designer herself, writes Bairbre Power

Swimsuit in 83pc polyamide/17pc elastane, €39; sarong in 100pc cotton, €19
Swimsuit in 83pc polyamide/17pc elastane, €39; sarong in 100pc cotton, €19
Printed kaftan with three-quarter length sleeves, V-neck and side splits in 100pc viscose, €69; linen trousers with elasticated waist, €59; leather mule, €99
Blue cotton and jersey dress, €59; linen and cotton striped scarf, €49
Blue print bikini top with rose strap detail, €25; white linen shorts with elasticated waist and side pockets, €49; bikini shorts (not seen), sold separately, €19
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Fashion collections are often influenced and inspired by travel, or colours that designers fall in love with. Take Majorelle blue, for example. That striking cobalt blue you'll find in the famous Yves Saint Laurent garden in Marrakech often pops up on designer's mood boards.

However, in the case of Irish designer, Carolyn Donnelly, it was the actual contents of her 2014 holiday suitcase in Marrakech that first triggered her resolve to create a specific holiday collection as part of her 'The Edit' collection at Dunnes Stores.

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"I've been doing this holiday collection since my first visit to Marrakech because when I was there, I felt I didn't really have the right pieces with me. Everybody looked really chic and understated. So, in 2015 I set about designing a collection that just had the key pieces that you need for your holiday."

Carolyn is always strategic and says "the lynch pin for me on holidays is a good sarong and I use mine all the time - at the pool, around my shoulders - and I like mine to have a print that is distinctive and different.

Printed kaftan with three-quarter length sleeves, V-neck and side splits in 100pc viscose, €69; linen trousers with elasticated waist, €59; leather mule, €99
Printed kaftan with three-quarter length sleeves, V-neck and side splits in 100pc viscose, €69; linen trousers with elasticated waist, €59; leather mule, €99

"The reason I couldn't find holiday pieces before was every time I went out to buy something, it always had a big pink or a big yellow flower on it. I wanted something a little bit more subtle, more design-driven and interesting colours that were subdued and sludgy."

In this collection, which has just arrived into the store, Carolyn has two swimsuits and two bikinis and they are brighter than she has done before.

The black and white print has a small geometric motif that looks slightly floral but it's not. It has been elevated by the addition of a bright orange neckband. The same with the blue print swimsuit and bikini, which come with a rose pink strap to make it that bit different.

"We always get a good reaction when I do a fresh blue and this time, the indigo blue one has a halter-neck band in a rose pink. The other print is black and cream mixed with little bit of orange. The same two prints feature in two bikinis and there are two print stories that carry through a choice of two kaftans, two sarongs (both featured on page 18), and two matching canvas tote bags.

Blue cotton and jersey dress, €59; linen and cotton striped scarf, €49
Blue cotton and jersey dress, €59; linen and cotton striped scarf, €49

Carolyn says: "The kaftans in crinkle viscose sell very well for us and it's the kind of piece you throw on going to the pool or sightseeing, and wear out to dinner with a nice necklace. It is strong enough to be all of those things. I'm very much into that kind of layering - longer length with linen pants.

"Everything is for me. I have tried on everything. I am the fit model for 'The Edit' and every sample comes in a size 12 and I try it on. I couldn't let it go without trying on the sample," says Carolyn.

Blue print bikini top with rose strap detail, €25; white linen shorts with elasticated waist and side pockets, €49; bikini shorts (not seen), sold separately, €19
Blue print bikini top with rose strap detail, €25; white linen shorts with elasticated waist and side pockets, €49; bikini shorts (not seen), sold separately, €19

Always the perfectionist - that trait has only increased over her decades in the business - Carolyn outlines how she has been labouring over swimwear over the last few of years and thinks she has "nailed it this year.

"We've also tried it on lots of people in the team and everybody is happy. It's not an 'itsy-bitsy' fit, that's not who I am appealing to. It covers you comfortably," she explains.

All the swimwear is lined which is really important because if it's not, it can become transparent. The style is very flattering on and holds you in in a way that's not restrictive.

"Our model for the shoot was gorgeous and the dog came with the location. I absolutely loved him and I had that shot in my head once I saw that black Aga, I knew it would be perfect for the bikini shot - and the dog had to be there as well!" says Carolyn.

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