Nifty fifties: Charlotte & Jane two passionate, conscientious creatives
Photography by Sarah Doyle, styling by Charlotte Cargin and Jane Skovgaard , fashion edited by Constance Harris
Charlotte & Jane is the kind of inspirational story we love to hear. Born in 2009 of two passionate, conscientious creatives, this label, founded to flatter curvy, quirky sartorialists, is entirely made in Ireland, uses local craftspeople and mills, and has quickly become a hot indie label.
Imelda May is a huge fan. And Cork Dry Gin commissioned the duo, because they are Cork based, to design a stunning dress -- the red dress, left -- inspired by Cork Dry Gin. "I have to say, we are having a ball," Jane Skovgaard told me." The Cork Dry Gin commission was something out of the usual for us. We were known for doing quirky, witty pieces, so it was great to rise to the challenge of designing something sophisticated to represent such an iconic brand, and showing what more we can do, given the challenge."
Originally Jane, herself a curvy gal, approached Charlotte Cargin -- who she had tutored before Charlotte went to study at Central St Martins -- about designing a vintage-inspired lingerie collection. Not too long after, the Charlotte & Jane clothes collection came into being.
"With the recession, there wasn't a lot going on and we thought -- 'Well, we have to generate, we have to generate'," Jane explained. "Charlotte is great on details. She is a perfectionist."
The Charlotte & Jane signature look is unashamedly Fifties and boldly colourful, which is probably why Imelda May is a supporter; she has five of their dresses and the duo get a styling credit on one of her CDs.
"This time last year, we did a pop-up shop in a hotel in Castlebar and she was playing there," Jane told me. "She came in and she was just so warm and supportive. She loved our dresses. She loved the Grace dress's Fifties cartoon print; she wore it with a big belt and looked fabulous."
Charlotte & Jane sell from their website and Facebook, where you can select your favourite style, fabric and colour. Or you can visit them in their showrooms in Kinsale. "We do a lot of custom-made: people come to us for styling and colour advice. Our dresses are quite simple but slightly quirky and look great on interesting, strong women," Jane said.
As much of the fabric as possible is sourced within Ireland, including at Kerry Woollen Mills in Kerry, and all garments are made by seamstresses in Cork and West Cork. That's why Cork Dry Gin loved the tie-in.
"We are very influenced by Fifties' celebrity glamour, from Marilyn Monroe to Jackie Kennedy," Jane said. "I'm trying to educate women that you can look sexier and better when you're dressed proportionately, as they did in the Fifties."
Charlotte & Jane, The Grove, Compass Hill, Kinsale, Co Cork, tel: (021) 470-9855, or see www.charlotteandjane.com
Fitzpatricks Shoes, Grafton St, D2, tel: (01) 677-2333, or see www.fitzpatricksshoes.com Courtville Antiques, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, D2, tel: (01) 679-4042, or see www.courtvilleantiques.com
Photography by Sarah Doyle, see www.sarahdoylephotography.com Assisted by Hector Castells, Alex Hayden and Erica Stoeckeler
Styling by Charlotte Cargin and Jane Skovgaard Hair by Joanne Kelly and Trudy Hayes for Aussie Haircare, see www.aussiehair.com
Make-up by Zoe Clark and Zara McAleavey for Max Factor, see www.maxfactor.ie
Models: Nikki Bonass, Olwen Kelly, Ruth Scully and Tracy Tough for Morgan The Agency and Karen Fitzpatrick for Assets Model Agency
Shot on location at Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare, one of the best-located luxury hotels in Ireland, just 20 minutes drive from Dublin.
For reservations, tel: (01) 505-2000, or see www.cartonhouse.com