Young bloods: Ireland's up-andcoming designers
Fashion editor Bairbre Power looks at Ireland’s new generation of designers
The glamour of the 1970s found its origins in exotic locations such as New York's Studio 54 , London's swinging King's Road and the uber-cool beaches of St Tropez.
But it took a Dublin woman to give it real high-street, nostalgic retail appeal the second time around.
Well done to Lucy Moller from Killester for bringing us Chelsea Girl at River Island, one of the prettiest high-street homages to the 1970s this summer.
Lucy's inspiration came from the iconic Chelsea Girl brand, which fused fashion and popular culture and was a major high-street favourite in the 1960s and 1970s.
The chain was bought in the 1980s by River Island, who invited Lucy to recreate its nostalgia with guidance from brand director Farida Kaikobad, who had worked on the brand.
Lucy, made her first step on the road to high-street success thanks to a student design competition in her final year at NCAD. She was invited to join the River Island design studio in London for three months after winning the company's €3,000 student bursary award. She stayed on and, within a year, this newbie displayed her commercial mettle with a yellow dress which became one of the most sought-after items of their spring/summer 2007 collection. Now one of three Irish designers working successfully at River Island (Anne Marie Rigney won the River Island bursary a year after Lucy, and Sile O Shea from Pettigo in Co Donegal was the 2010 winner), she is still with the company, which is no surprise to anyone who saw her graduate collection inspired by the 1975 documentary 'Grey Gardens'.
Paisley prints, retro denims, geometric patterns, a bohemian feel, gypsy tops with ruched waists and balloon sleeves all feature in the ultra-feminine Gypsy Girl collection, where prices start from €24.99.
Lucy captured the spirit of the brand, recreating high-waisted, red cotton flares from original pieces photographed in the 1970s advert. The Attic, an often underrated place to find clothes a generation later, yielded some brilliant pieces which had been archived by Farida's proud mother.
The original ginger suede hotpants with whipstitching have been reworked for fashion-forward shoppers of 2011.
Searching on eBay, Lucy found an original purple print dress and reinvented it as a playsuit, right down to same floral-print fabric.
The road from graduate collection to job in the fashion world can be a tough journey. Some, such as Simone Rocha, have made it in record time, and her current collection is awesome in terms of sheer desirability and wearability.
Una Power from the Limerick School of Art And Design has attracted the attention of Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness for her alarmingly beautiful studded leather pieces. She recently won the coveted Fashion Innovation Award organised by Goldenegg Productions in Galway for her studded leather collection, including the amazing cape, right. It was here that I spied Natalie B Coleman's whimsical autumn/winter 2011 collection entitled 'All The Jewellery I Never Got'.
The Persil Irish Fashion Designer award, worth €10,000, gives winners like this year's Mary Lennon the opportunity to launch their own collection. The winner of this year's River Island bursary will be announced on May 21 at the Peter Marks- sponsored NCAD Graduate Fashion Show.
Judging student fashion competitions around the country, I'm constantly buoyed by the groundswell of talent coming through from fashion newbies who are sensible about balancing creativity with commerciality.
Some beacons shine bright, such as GTI's Sarah O'Neill. After her win in the Ballinasloe DMC competition organised by Galway Co Council, she interned with Preen and developed the label Harlow & Harvey where individually hand-laid fringing is a signature design element of the label which is available from the Galway boutique, "Zebra, Not Just Black & White" , the London-based online boutique www.ragandmagpie.com and from www.harlowandharvey.com in the next few weeks.
Sarah created the cobalt blue ruffle dress (photographed above) for Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin to wear to the Style Awards at the Shelbourne.The double-georgette weight gown was hand-draped asymmetrically to give great movement and body to the dress which really should have won Best Dress on the night. And to think it was from a designer just two years out of college makes me hugely optimistic about the future of Irish fashion.