Retailers who may be feeling a little despondent about the disappointing Christmas trading should take heart from the fact that spring/summer 2011 promises to be a great season. There has rarely been such excitement about a season. It is, of course, because being forced to wear wellies, woollies and other such unfortunate clothing has left us longing to dress up again and embrace colour.
Also, I think we've become a little bored with the "classic" looks that have dominated fashion over the past two years. This season, things are more balanced. Fashion is still timeless, clean and not overly fussy, but there is newness. There are changes in shapes and lengths, which are both age and body friendly. The trouser has replaced the dress, while the blouse is this season's substitute for the boyfriend blazer.
These photographs are an early preview of Brown Thomas' spring/summer collection, but only a taster of what's to come, which is really special.
"Despite the doom and gloom in the newspapers, we're very excited about the coming season, loads of colour, loads of newness. Our buyers have worked harder than ever before. "We have 59 labels coming to this store (Dublin) alone," said Brown Thomas managing director Stephen Sealy, speaking at the store's recent spring/summer show.
"It's different," added fashion director Shelly Corkery, "which was needed to brighten up our spirits with all that has gone on."
What's interesting about this coming season at Brown Thomas is that there are fluid, light, colourful and fewer body-con shapes around. It's a disciplined buy but not as rigid as previous seasons. Typically, in a bid to satisfy its core customer, Brown Thomas favours a more muted, streamlined, hour-glass aesthetic, but this season, the buyers have embraced change. It will be interesting to see whether its loyal customer base follows suit. "People like change," says a Celine-clad Shelly. "We have been wearing dresses for so long now, it's nice to get back into trousers. They (customers) haven't bought colour for a while either."
Brown Thomas has been clever in the way it has bought into the Seventies trend. It's wearable, rather than a slavish throwback to the era. "Think Ali McGraw," says Shelly.
I didn't think there was such a thing as a flattering, non-fashion victim-ish jumpsuit until I saw the burnt-orange version by Celine at the Brown Thomas show. Even if you don't have the money to buy the international designers in Brown Thomas, it's definitely worth having a look at the collections there and taking lessons from that.
Prints too are big news this season at Brown Thomas -- particularly animal prints. Also, there's a soft utility feel to some of the international collections, namely Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang and Chloe.
Sarah Burton's first collection for the Alexander McQueen label is really beautiful. It's a more romantic look than previous collections from the late and much-lamented McQueen himself, which may well make it more commercial.
For those not quite ready to abandon the rock-chick look, you'll be happy to know Givenchy and Balenciaga have remained loyal to their roots.
Among the exciting labels new to Brown Thomas this season is Theyskens Theory, which is designed by Theory CEO Andrew Rosen. It's quite edgy in a Scandinavian, minimal kind of way and will probably appeal to a younger customer.
Dannii Minogue's Project D is also new to Brown Thomas this season. Given that she eclipsed Cheryl Cole in the style stakes -- wearing her own designs on the most recent X Factor series -- you can be guaranteed the label will be a great success. Although its success probably won't rival that of fellow popstar-turned-designer Victoria Beckham, whose creations have harvested a loyal following among Irish women, usually selling out very early into the season. This spring will be no different, given that her collection of blush-coloured skater dresses and softly draped, full-length evening gowns were collectively considered a highlight at the Brown Thomas show. Which is quite the achievement, because with countless other designers on form, she had stiff competition.
Photography: David Conachy
Styling: Sinead Keenan, www.sineadkeenan.com
Hair: Michael Leong
Makeup: The Team at Giorgio
Armani Cosmetics at Brown Thomas Dublin
All clothes from International
Designer Collections, 1st floor, Brown Thomas, Grafton St, D2 tel: (01) 605-6666. All shoes from The Shoe Rooms, Brown
Thomas. Bags and accessories from Brown Thomas Dublin
Sunday Indo Living