Opulent, gilded glamour and baroque drama are the hallmarks of Louise Kennedy's exciting autumn/winter 2012 collection.
Ireland's First Lady of Fashion unveiled the range at her elegant Merrion Square home and flagship boutique yesterday.
The backdrop was Georgian but the cultural references in the collection were thoroughly international, from 19th century Russia and 'Anna Karenina' to the rich, heritage fabrics from Linton, the Scottish mills where Coco Chanel sourced her signature tweeds.
The Tipperary-born designer discovered a swatch of gold lame fabric dating from the 1940s when she visited the Scottish mills to make a TV documentary. Given the Kennedy treatment, the gold fabric has come to life again 60 years later, inspiring the Rosie gold coat (€1,295) which Louise accessorised with 'Krista' cropped, ankle-grazing wool trousers (€350).
An instant hit with the audiences attending the invite-only morning and early evening fashion shows, the appearance of the slightly oversized Rosie coat in an intriguing metallic-hued tweed sent pens straight to paper as the ladies ticked their approval on the running order.
Historical references and heritage fabrics are all very well but the modern woman looks beyond the romance of a yarn. This coat works in 2012 because it is a modern take on the socialite's 'opera coat', executed with cut-away collar and turned back, bracelet-length sleeves.
"I'm in my element sitting down with a box of archival swatches," said Louise, whose new collection features a novelty tweed woven with gold sequins for great textural effect.
While she shares a love of interesting woven tweeds and haute couture exactness with Coco Chanel, Louise is very much a contemporary designer with her own vision.
The show was described as "an ode to antiquity", but the clothes yesterday vibrated with a modern signature.
Case in point was the new 'Kiki' dress, a superfluid contour made from a rectangular piece of fabric with clever lines which yielded optimum fluidity. In a new move, Louise has added embellishment to her signature silk jerseys. The Bailey dress features gold detailing on the cap sleeve while the Emily has it on the armhole facing.
In addition to the French lace, Italian silk and silk wool crepe for black dark romance, Louise uses rich-jewel tones like sapphire blue, tourmaline green and onyx, plus of course, lots of on-trend burgundy.
Meanwhile, Dublin's Grafton Street and Henry Street, will turn into pavement catwalks for daily fashion shows during the Dublin Fashion of Festival, which kicks-off tomorrow for four days. By night, there are fashion parades in selected bars around the city and this year's most exciting addition, the inaugural DFF by Night Creative Quarter Fashion Show, will be hosted by Amanda Byram on the steps of Powerscourt Townhouse Centre on Friday evening at 8pm.