Fresh faces: an A to Z of Irish fashion

The huge array of designers, stylists and models making a name for themselves or on the verge of doing so suggests that things are looking up for the Irish industry

Mon, Nov 4, 2013, 10:18

Angela Scanlon. Her documentary Oi Ginger is top of the RTÉ Player charts at time of writing, and her own star is in the ascendant – she has been profiled by Vogue as one to watch, has rubbed shoulders with Daisy Lowe and been recruited by Louis Vuitton to star in an accessories campaign. She is as much an ambassador for Ireland as she is a fashionable force to be reckoned with, both in print and TV. There are rumours a book on style is in the offing.

Bash, a wedding magazine that takes its inspiration from the extraordinarily popular wedding blogs. Plenty of scrapbook-style pages of beautiful dresses, cakes and flowers, all with a sepia-tinted, DIY bent. The debut issue features Irish model Laragh McCann in an incredible floral headpiece, designed by the crew at the Garden in Powerscourt Townhouse. celebrates its first birthday earlier this year. The website was set up by two Irish women, Kim Knowles and Ciara McKenna, as a response to what they saw as a gap in the market for an online jewellery shop with a strong focus on Irish designers. The site started with a small roster of local Irish designers, but has expanded to include cult brand Tatty Devine, Irish jeweller Chupi, Lady Gaga favourite Úna Burke and more.

Danielle Romeril. The Dublin-born designer studied at Limerick College of Art and Design. After graduating in 2007, she had stints with Sharon Wauchob in Paris and Sinha-Stanic in London before working with Amanda Wakeley. In 2012, Romeril set up her eponymous clothing label, a collection of dresses and separates in simple shapes with origami-inspired cutouts in textured fabrics.

Eily O’Connell. The Donegal-born jewellery designer always knew she wanted to study art – but it was only in her first year at NCAD that she realised her interest in jewellery would become a career. She is inspired by organic shapes found in nature, which make for intriguing, often eerily beautiful pieces. She has exhibited her designs worldwide and sells via her own website and on, the brainchild of Kilkenny stylist turned vintage shop owner Blanaid Hennessy, describes itself as “the friendly shopping destination for bad-ass bohemian fashion-loving folks”. Here you can find studs and florals, leathers and velvets. The site, which delivers worldwide, presents a collection of goods that wouldn’t look out of place in the pre-show “carnival of fashion” during fashion weeks – brands include Jeffrey Campbell, UNIF, Sister Jane and Miista shoes.

Grace Moore is the Dublin styling powerhouse responsible for countless fashion spreads in numerous Irish magazines, as well as styling the presenters of RTÉ’s The Hit. Not only that, she’s personal stylist to actress Saoirse Ronan, and she assisted on the Grace Coddington-directed Vogue shoot in the Ring of Kerry. @graciestylist on Twitter

Heidi Higgins. Portlaoise might not seem like the most fashionable of towns, but it’s where Heidi Higgins has her fashion boutique, which is much-loved by race-day-goers everywhere. It was a short jump from her graduation from NCAD in 2008 to the opening of the boutique that shares her name in 2010 – between which she spent a year working with the grand dame of Irish fashion, Louise Kennedy. Higgins’s designs put the lady into ladies’ day – pencil-skirt shapes and tailored coats in sweet, feminine colours.

Ingrid Hoey. Ingrid Hoey is one name you might not have heard of – her work is done behind the scenes of programmes such as the The Voice of Ireland, where she styles the presenters, as well as on Dragons’ Den and Celebrity Apprentice. Hoey, whose background lies in retail – as buying director for FX Kelly menswear and a stint with the visual display team at Armani – also does one-on-ones, where she will advise you on what to wear – and what to avoid – to best suit your body shape.

JW Anderson. Jonathan William Anderson started out designing menswear in 2008, at the age of 23, before expanding into womenswear, so it makes sense that his designs are not for those striving for overt femininity. Instead, he takes traditional elements – Aran knits, tweeds and paisley prints – and dissects and reassembles them into what are very often quite avant-garde designs. That’s not to say that his aesthetic hasn’t found favour. Alexa Chung is a big fan, and bigwigs have seen a commercial element: Topshop commissioned an extensive collection from the Magharafelt native, and earlier this year, luxury fashion group LVMH took a stake in the young label.

Kildare Village. Okay, so it’s owned by an international chain of outlet stores (Chic Outlet Shopping), but there’s no denying the Irishness of the setting, off the N7 at Kildare, with a children’s play area set among stone ruins behind the shops. The past few months have seen an influx of new brands, including Links of London, L’Occitane and Mulberry. It also offers All Saints, Coast, Karen Millen, Hackett and Anya Hindmarch at a fraction of their RRPs.

L’Or Mayo. Congo-born L’Or Mayo had no modelling aspirations when she was scouted while shopping in Brown Thomas shortly before her 16th birthday – but she’s never far from a catwalk now and is a regular fixture in shows by Louise Kennedy, Peter O’Brien and Brown Thomas. The 5ft 10in twentysomething’s pixie crop marks her out from the previous school of Irish models, and her bold walk is something to behold – entirely at odds with her laid-back, friendly persona, which makes it all the more entrancing.

Manley. Manley is the fashion label of Castleknock native Emma Manley, and it’s not very manly at all. She’s known for her flirty tea dresses with cut-out leather collars, soft knits with industrial studs, full skirts in patent and metallic leather. While her garments won’t come cheap – jumpers start at the €189 mark and dresses can cost more than €300, the Dublin designer prides herself on manufacturing 50 per cent of the line on home soil.

Natalie B Coleman. Coleman’s spring-summer 2012 collection, All the Jewellery I Never Got, rose to international prominence when it was sported by singer Marina & the Diamonds in a set of 2012 promotional photographs, but the Monaghan native’s designs are well able to speak for themselves. For next season, her inspiration came from a party she had with a friend where they purged their anger by smashing old and broken crockery. It’s this attention to quirky detail that marks Coleman’s designs out. Her pieces are cool and couture all at once.

Ooh La La magazine. It’s a tough time out there for the print industry, a concern that hasn’t stopped the crew behind the latest Irish fashion and beauty magazine. The fashion glossy for the well-heeled tween (that’s between teens and twenties), is now a year old, and even held its own Irish blog awards earlier this year.

Peter O’Brien. Achieving longevity in the fashion industry is no mean feat, which is why Peter O’Brien’s continued presence at the top of the Irish fashion pile is such a big deal. This year saw the Irish fashion stalwart design yet another capsule collection for Arnotts, as well as working on costumes for the Gate’s production of Bedroom Farce and for a forthcoming biopic of Eileen Grey, The Price of Desire. @peter_obrien

Rocha. With the arrival of Simone on the scene, the Rochas have cemented their position as Ireland’s fashion power family. Simone has inherited from her father John a love of monochrome and bold silhouettes – but while the John Rocha woman is all grown up, the Simone Rocha girl is still in an experimental phase, teaming granny’s lace dresses with boyish brogues, and embracing flashes of neon.,

Suzanne Jackson. If you haven’t heard of So Sue Me, Suzanne Jackson’s incredibly popular fashion and beauty blog, you’ve had your head in the internet sand for the past five years. On the site, Jackson showcases new trends, posts video tutorials on how to achieve certain make-up looks (Jackson is a qualified beauty therapist) and contributes regularly to her selfie catalogue, detailing what she’s wearing on any given day. Her book, So Sue Me: Secrets to Blogging, Fashion and Beauty, has just been published.

Teodora Sutra. The Latvian-born model moved to Gorey, Co Wexford, 10 years ago. She has since become one of the country’s top models, working with Dublin-based agency 1st Option. Sutra has been the face of Dunnes, Irish designer Fee G (Fiona Heaney) and Paula Callan Make-up, and has fronted campaigns for Umit Kutluk, Arnotts and Heidi Higgins. @sutrateodora

Umit Kutluk. Turkish-born Umit Kutluk moved to Dublin from Istanbul in 2007. Having graduated from the Grafton Academy of Dress Designing, he launched his eponymous label, which was sold through the Design Centre in the Powerscourt Townhouse and at his own studio, at 27 Merrion Square in Dublin 2, in autumn 2011. Kutluk’s designs have a distinctly haute-couture aesthetic: he specialises in using silk, leather and cashmere and produces luxurious collections that would be as at home in Paris as they are in his Georgian townhouse studio.

Vogue. The inclusion in the US fashion bible’s September issue of a nine-page Kerry-based fashion shoot – starring supermodel Daria Werbowy and GirlsAdam Driver, photographed by Annie Liebowitz and art directed by Grace Coddington in and around the ring of Kerry – was, surely, a seal of approval from Anna Wintour for each and every one of us. As a result, Vogue can, at least until next September, be considered a little bit Irish.

W e Are Islanders. This fashion label comes from the folks behind Re-Dress, an initiative that uses only sustainable materials.

We Are Islanders’ collections use organic and fair-trade cotton, Irish wools and organic salmon leather, materials chosen for their “luxurious qualities combined with their minimal negative social, environmental and humanitarian impact”.

Xposé. TV3’s prime-time magazine show is more Glamour than Vogue: short, fun, accessible segments on fashion, beauty and celebrity gossip hosted by the hard-working presenters and producers Lisa Cannon, Karen Koster, Aisling O’Loughlin and one-time top model Glenda Gilson. Not to mention the top-notch stylists – if I do say so myself. @tv3xpose on Twitter.

Yasmin Velloza. The New York-born designer graduated from NCAD in 2003 and set up her eponymous label in 2006, with studios in Dublin and Shanghai. Her collections span both continents: there’s a distinctly oriental feel to her bell-sleeved dresses and obi belts, while tailored dress shapes with an emphasis on the female body shape add a western flavour.

Zoe Jordan. The eldest daughter of Eddie Jordan is one of a raft of proud Irish designers whose work is showcased twice a year at London Fashion Week. She originally studied architecture, but turned her creative eye to clothing design for her debut collection for spring-summer 2012. Her latest collection, spring-summer 2014, is inspired by the concept of “luxury street wear”, taking elements from graffiti and urban wear and merging them into her very distinctive aesthetic of sharp cuts, structured pieces and soft tailoring.

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