Dunne & dusted


FASHION:Expect bursts of colour and glamour to hit Dunnes Stores this season as part of an exciting new collaboration with Carolyn Donnelly, writes DEIRDRE McQUILLAN

CHANGES ARE AFOOT at Dunnes Stores where Carolyn Donnelly has taken over as creative director of women’s fashion coinciding with a major overhaul of the stores taking place next month. As the other half of Quin & Donnelly (the Irish label which had to suspend trading last year owing to a trademark row), Donnelly wasted no time in finding an alternative outlet for her energy and ideas. Her colourful new homewares collection for the store launched this week and already her influence can be seen in the new season’s fashion collection, Gallery, shown here.

“I went into Dunnes with a different perspective and saw that its current collections needed a revamp and a whole new emphasis on design – so the new look will be shops within shops with new fitouts, new rails, new mannequins, new labels, all with their own identity. I am coordinating it all,” she says.

It’s a big challenge, but 30 years experience in the clothing trade leaves her unfazed and ready for it. “I have plenty of opinions and it is a fantastic opportunity to be able to use that experience in a new way,” she says.

Aimed “at the modern working woman, with a family, interested in fashion who likes a little bit of glamour”, Gallery is underpinned by that practicality and focus, so much part of the approach that defined Quin & Donnelly’s success. “My input [on the fashion collections] will really be obvious next spring, with some pieces coming in pre-Christmas to coincide with the new shop fit,” she says.

The new coats, like the red “statement” with its bold cowl neckline, already show her hand as does another in a pale mink, ovoid shape (though it might have had more impact minus the front frill). Another in tweed features a detachable fur collar. Trouser suits in a heavy Lycra cloth have a fit designed to flatter the figure. Knitwear is strong with the new look Aran a real winner and longer line cardigans in new colour palettes arriving every three weeks with coordinating shoes, boots, scarves and other accessories.

The collaboration between Donnelly and Dunnes is a welcome one and represents a noticeable shift in the chain store’s attitude to design encouraged, no doubt, by its continuing successful partnership with Paul Costelloe on menswear and homeware. This latest collaboration now also marks a new beginning for both sides and time will tell how it develops.

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