With A helping hand from Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin, Irish fashion is headed east for the influential World Expo in Shanghai -- and leading the style pack to China are two 'local' boys made good.
John Rocha left Hong Kong to train as a psychiatric nurse but discovered Paris fashion and went on to became an international award-winning designer now based in Dublin.
Michael Leong from Malaysia came to Ireland to study medicine but turned to hairdressing before shifting medium to hats this year, launching his debut collection of 35 pieces.
Michael, whose great- great- grandfather came from China, is bringing 10 show hats from Dublin for the Irish Tatler Designer Showcase at the Ireland Pavilion in Shanghai on October 17 and 18.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to promote Irish creativity and develop trade and exchange," said Michael.
Designer Yasmin Velloza (29) from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, is part of the Irish fashion team showing at the expo and she already knows the local territory as she has a design studio there, splitting her time between China and her shop in Dublin's Dawson Street.
"There is a market in Shanghai for good design, but women there go for more classic looks, wheras Irish fashion design has a slightly more creative edge. Women in Shanghai love luxury and appreciate hand-made things," said Yasmin.
The line-up of designers included Paul Costelloe, knitwear designer Lainey Keogh, Joanne Hynes as well as the Quin & Donnelly duo.
Ireland's fashion colleges will also be showcasing the best of their graduate shows in Shanghai, featuring design graduates from the Limerick School of Art and Design, Griffith College Dublin, the Grafton Academy and the National College of Art and Design.