Wednesday 18 September 2019

Practical and perfect


Jumper, €52; leather-look jeans, €74.95, both Rant & Rave. Bag, €42, Gionni
Jumper, €52; leather-look jeans, €74.95, both Rant & Rave. Bag, €42, Gionni
Jumper, €52; leather-look jeans, €74.95, both Rant & Rave. Shopper, €55, Gionni
Jumper, €52; skirt, €52, both Rant & Rave. Double-handled grab bag, €60, Gionni

About 15 years ago, I toyed for several months with the idea of buying an It bag. It was definitely going to be Prada, but I couldn't decide upon a specific style. In the end, I never made the leap, and didn't purchase. A journalist's salary doesn't lend itself to a large collection of designer bags, so if there was going to be one in my wardrobe, chances were this bag was going to be the only one. And narrowing it down to one all-purpose bag was beyond me.

Because I like to change my bag up as much as I like to change up my shoes - often; daily - the idea of one bag, albeit in beautifully soft leather, being it, even if it was also an It, was somehow deeply unsatisfying. I saved myself the €1,500 (it was the mid Noughties, peak Celtic Tiger; we were all at this kind of thing - don't judge me!).

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I also figured out what I really wanted from my bag. Which was not so much status, as a mixture of a dash of individuality with a dose of practicality. I want a bag big enough to carry everything I need to get through a day, but not so big that I'll fill it with too much stuff and then feel it drag off my shoulder for the rest of the day.

I want an office-to-bar bag, so to speak. Half handbag, half small clutch - does anyone bar wedding guests actually use tiny clutch bags any more? I would prefer if the bag was cross-body; a tote might fit your laptop, but my god, they are uncomfortable to carry around. And I like to have a few bags on the go, so I don't want to pay too much for them.

Gionni is an Irish brand which celebrates its 25th year in business this year. All the design is done in-house in its Dublin offices. Price wise, the brand is middle market, with an accessible price point. And they produce exactly the kind of thing I am talking about.

Lais Kickow, one of several designers of the range, says that this season's collection was inspired by the French Alps, and the romance and mystery of nature. This manifested in the designs in terms of the fabrics. Sometimes though, the design team themselves will influence the look as much as the trends do, she says. So these bags will not look dated after a few months.

Functionality is key for the Gionni range, says Lais, explaining their aim is to create "a bag that you can wear in all occasions". For Irish women, their Hobo Bag, a medium-sized, rounded bag, is a particularly popular style.

The clothes featured on this week's pages are by Rant & Rave, another Irish label, designed in Monaghan. Mainly a denim line, they also do a small clothing line - again, there is a nod towards trends, maybe in a colour or fabric, without being slavish. This season they have referenced the leather-look trousers and the bottle-green shades that are going to be very popular.

Sustainable fashion is not just about buying less, it is also about buying local. Designs like these make it that bit more tempting.

Photography by Emily Quinn

Styling by Grace Moore

Words by Liadan Hynes

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