Friday 17 November 2017

Irish Label Fee G: Let's celebrate

Lace and taffeta dress, €216.
Shoes, stylist’s own. All photos: Lily Forberg; Styling: John McCormack
Lace and taffeta dress, €216. Shoes, stylist’s own. All photos: Lily Forberg; Styling: John McCormack
Lace and jacquard dress with peplum, €232. Shoes, stylist’s own
Fluted-sleeve dress, €195
Jacquard dress with satin belt, €229. Shoes, stylist’s own

I love the enthusiasm of Irish women for celebrating community events, such as weddings, Communions and significant birthdays, by getting dolled up and buying a special outfit. It shows a fantastic commitment to the celebration of life.

When chatting to Fiona Heaney, the designer of Irish fashion label Fee G, about her spring/summer collection and the differences in export markets — where it is doing very well — she mentioned that women in the UK are happy to wear chain-store buys to occasion events. This is not an issue of price for them, but rather one of attitude. Unlike the women in Italy, France or Spain who dress for their menfolk, and Ireland, where we love to dress up for each other, the British woman is not so inclined to live it up. More pity her.

Last week, one important Dublin buyer told me that, this season, Irish women are demanding colour and sex appeal. They are actively seeking to lift their lives out of the pervasive grimness. Fee G has always been a destination label for a colour lift, as Fiona has distinguished herself with her love of colour and bold print. Since both are huge trends this season, it seems that fashion has finally caught up with Fiona.

This season, Fee G is strongly influenced by the hourglass shapes of the Fifties and the shorter, modern prints and lighter feel of the Sixties. One can look dressed up in a subtle-yet-confident manner in gently embellished, fitted styles; or look casually confident in slightly loose-fitting, above-the-knee print dresses.

“We always listen to our customers,” Fiona told me. “Sleeves have become an even bigger issue with women. They want the convenience of a dress. They want more function from their clothes. They want to be able to dress them up and dress them down. But they want to look feminine and stylish, too.” So comfort, belts and pockets feature strongly, as well as sleeves.

This season, too, Fiona has kept Fee G’s colour palette tighter. “I just found myself more drawn to keeping things simple,” Fiona said. “Last season, we did a lot of neutrals for the first time and they went really well. Maybe people like the fact that they are calmer, less demanding. And ours were beautifully embellished, so they felt very luxurious.

“We’re still doing those kinds of rich-looking details, but we have simplified the shapes, making some of them not quite so fitted. It’s like we’ve all been holding in so much, we want to take a breath.” I like the way Fiona thinks. Judging by the way you gals flock to snap up Fee G’s numbers — available in sizes eight to 16 — you do, too.

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