One of the things I love most about attending London Fashion Week twice a year is having a front -row perch to watch the unfolding journey of talented Irish designers as they turn the heads of international fashion buyers with their innovation. After an impressively vertical climb to fame, Simone Rocha feels so confident about her point of difference that she's decided to open her own store. So, while dad John closed his store on London's Dover Street, Simone opens on nearby Mount Street during London Fashion Week next September and promises a personal creative space with her own identity.
Fellow Dubliner Danielle Romeril continues to make strides in London. Her originality with camouflage this season was memorable, and definitely marks her out as a name to watch - and collect.
Another favourite, also hailing from Dublin, is Zoe Jordan, whose signature clean lines and boyish elegance is pretty much perfect for solving weekend- wear issues. I always feel that weekends are the one period in our week when our wardrobe assets so often let us down. Once out of workwear - and the safety net of a uniform of conventional colours like black and black - we can struggle.
Zoe Jordan's strategic career move of switching her collection shows to New York in order to grow her business has paid off handsomely. Her last two collections have been her strongest, with stand-out pieces in her edit like the pale blue shearling and blue ombre items which we can look forward to in A/W15.
However, it's Zoe's new KNITLAB capsule collection of cashmere jumpers which is making my heart beat faster right now. There's a variety of lengths and colours, and all but one style features Zoe's trademark cut-outs on the shoulder or down the sleeve in a series of apertures.
The combination of rich cashmere textures and mannish cable knits, some coated with a pretty, very tactile foil laminate, adds to the appeal of the transeasonal pieces.
Taking a showroom in London during LFW, Zoe explained how her brand's focus is on "style over fashion". Indeed, her 'real women' models include pals, GPs, an artist, a photographer and her very stylish mum, Marie (pictured main) - a former Ireland international basketball player with a great fashion sense, and a good eye for a car too!
Going behind the threads, so to speak, of her KNITLAB collection, Zoe set out to create a systematic silhouette that works all year round. The capsule collection certainly has a feminine swagger, and the trademark aperature on the shoulder (in the Gondola and Dias styles) extends to three apertures down the arm in the Galileo, which comes in both a short style and a longer tunic. The colour palette across the range runs from white, ash, powder blue, stone, black and forest green, but the total crush pieces are undoubtedly the 'Dias' foil laminate combination of silver foil running into white, while the 'Darwin' dazzles with vertical cables in silver foil. Prices start at €420 and run to €460 at a pop-up at Brown Thomas, Grafton Street. We are in good company as Zoe is also selling it into New York at Saks of Fifth Avenue. By the way, the inspiration for the names comes from scientists - Darwin, Franklin, Galileo and Gondola. See: zoe-jordan.com/knitlab
Second Skin commissioned four of Ireland's leading fashion labels - JRothwell, Joanne Hynes, Natalie B Coleman and Lennon Courtney - to design, source and produce a garment or range of clothing on the island of Ireland. The exhibition runs at Derry's Playhouse until July 16.