Fashion always reflects what is going on culturally. Taking its cue from the excitement of a new millennium, the last decade was all about pushing the boundaries of what had been -- not only from an excellence point of view, but an excess one, too.
By 2003, most of us were fed up with high-gloss theatre, but trends take years to work through, and the mainstream took an especially long time to get over its love affair with high-octane glamour. But today is January 2, 2011. Finally, finally, we are into a new era. For the past two to three years a new aesthetic has been emerging: that of simplicity.
Conceptual, philosophical designers, from Hussein Chalayan, Yohji Yamamoto and Miuccia Prada to John Rocha and Phoebe Philo for Celine, have steadily been signalling the return to sublime serenity.
"Looking at the shows for spring, simplicity is being done by all the major designers," says Alison Conneely, aka designer Eme Vandal, and the stylist of our evocative and beautiful fashion spread today.
The clothes are really simple, but there is a beautiful slowness to them, with fabrics resembling liquid metal. So simple, yet so loaded.
Like her hero, Chalayan, Alison is very much a fashion thinker and philosopher, and her style stamp, too, is majestic simplicity.
Photographer Gerry Balfe Smyth, who came up with the idea of creating an Amish-themed story, says that the new aesthetic is not limited to fashion, but it is happening in photography, too.
"All that photography with loud lighting and badly retouched shots where you can't recognise the person you are looking at because they all look the same -- it's like a bad pop song," Gerry said.
"The trend now is minimalism. It's about easy access; about cutting down a lot of barriers; getting back to basics. It cuts out all the noise. I thought of the Amish because they are so at peace, doing their own thing. It's nice."
Unusually, Gerry shot this editorial on film -- and this is apparent. Such contemplation and fluidity is not something you see often in digital work.
It perfectly matches what Alison also describes as "a kind of home-made vibe going on" within fashion. That all the clean lines need the softness of traditional, natural, elements, such as hand knits.
"We are ready for the shift. After Christmas, people need a break from lushness," Alison adds. "January is about clearing out and paring back. From the food you eat to the way you wear your clothes, now is the time to get into a healthier routine."
Bow, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, D2, tel: (01) 707-1763,
Eme Vandal, see www.emevandal.com
Kennedy & McSharry, 39 Nassau St, D2,
tel: (01) 677-8770, or see www.kennedymcsharry.ie
A Rubanesque, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, D2,
tel: (01) 672-9243, or see www.arubanesque.ie
Photography by Gerry Balfe Smyth,
Assisted by Myles Shelly
Styled by Alison Conneely, see www.alisonconneely.com
Assisted by Deirdre Brennan and Megan Killian
Make-up by Leonard Daly, tel: (087) 230-7734
Hair by Joe Hayes, tel: (087) 746-7080
Models: Laura Keohane and John Beattie
at Morgan The Agency.
Ty Byrne, India Byrne and Ruby Gill
Special thanks to Michael Carey and family for their support