Saturday 24 February 2018

Joanne Hynes: Girl stuff

Silk dress with double-frilled neck,
hand-embellished crystals, applique
work and hand-sewn lace embroidery,
€1,400; crystal crown, to order
Silk dress with double-frilled neck, hand-embellished crystals, applique work and hand-sewn lace embroidery, €1,400; crystal crown, to order
Metallic brocade dress with padded shoulders and keyhole sleeves, €495; crystal neckpiece, €220; crystal cuffs, €180 each
Belted, metallic brocade, tailored dress, €395; crystal and metal cuffs, €180 each
Italian stretch taffeta waist-pincher dress €395
Abstract leopard laser-print Italian silk-taffeta dress €395; crystal necklace €220; crystal and metal cuffs € 180
Italian stretch taffeta dress, crystal-embellished bustier underpiece and hand-pleated overlay, €495; patent clutch bag, €210

Throughout the ages, fashion has celebrated women's hourglass form, often to the point of accentuating it to extremes.

But, in the late 20th century, the more that female emancipation gathered strength, the more fashion lost its exuberant joy in exploring our curvy form.

Recently, some designers did dress the female form by emphasising its shape, but they got lost amid the fuss generated over the ‘new volume', which, to my mind, was all puffball and pear-shaped and not about female beauty at all.

Only the couture shows of Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, and, occasionally, Yohji Yamamoto, stuck to loving women's shapes.

But this season, the barren, androgynous design legacy of years of fashion is about to change. With her spring/summer 2009 collection, Joanne Hynes gives us a stunning, modern celebration of a very old fashion notion: the hourglass shape. No wonder Brown Thomas snapped it up for the store’s Level 2. I am surprised, as this collection has such an international appeal, that Harvey Nichols or a cutting-edge store such as Liberty of London didn't beat BTs to it.

“To some people, the collection must have seemed quite out there, but I can't be halfway about what I do. I really go for it. If it’s not perfect, it doesn't go in,” Joanne told me.

“Last year,” she explained, “when I spent two weeks on Brown Thomas's shop floor meeting customers, I learned how much help people needed.

“I designed the collection to be the total solution. These dresses are very flexible. Look at me, I have a shirt and skinny trousers on under this. But take them away and I have a classic cocktail dress for evening.”

Joanne’s collection is mainly dresses, both day and cocktail, with individualistic belts strongly featuring.

Some of the dresses have a basque in order to give flattering definition to the waist, along with dramatic accentuation to the bodice area and at the hips. Like Dior's 1947 New Look, when first seen, the silhouette looks strange, but it is very flattering.

The dresses range from jersey with bold Art Deco embellishment (from €295), to luxe taffeta numbers (from €395), and from vintage-looking, softer styles in silk-cotton mixes, around €495, to the exclusive and made-to-order couture-level styles. Fabrics are mostly original, designed by Joanne.

There is also a stunning brocade suit; a coat in soft rose-pink; the next evolution of Joanne's trademark dressy trench; and a dramatic puff-sleeve, slate-grey jacket.

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