Irish designer shows her petal power
Helen Cody makes a return to fashion with a new autumn winter collection
(L-R) 1) Pearl grey silk and taffeta hand-embellished floral applique and Swarovski beaded bustier and skirt, price on application; shoes by Jimmy Choo, jewellery from Brown Thomas. 2) Anthracite wool cocoon jacket with grosgrain trim, €750; grey silk crepe satin blouse, €390; silk jersey and anthracite zip pencil skirt with grosgrain ribbon trim, €520; grey driving gloves, Paula Rowan, Westbury Mall; Bordeaux clutch Yves St Laurent, Brown Thomas 3) Anthracite wool silk-lined coat, €995; silk taffeta and tulle skirt, €950; mustard grosgrain beret, €140; belt, Paula Rowan, Westbury Mall; shoes, stylist's own.
Helen Cody, who has returned to the Irish fashion scene after a five-year spell in the UK, has just completed a small winter collection, romantic in spirit and notable for its luxurious handworked decor, shapely coats and jackets.
The designer is obsessed with the traditional feminine trappings, pearls, beads, vintage lace, organza, tulle, taffeta and silk for dresses – usually named after flowers – that tremble and shiver with surface movement.
It’s no wonder that she is a one stop shop for many brides-to-be, in love with her mastery of dreamy dresses and decor. Earlier this year in March, her pop-up shop in South William Street with its one-off creations stopped passers-by in their tracks and reminded others that she was back in business.
The winter collection concentrates on dresses and separates, with a cocoon cashmere coat, optionally belted, and jackets curving below the waistline – the latter shape not necessarily suiting all figures, however. Skirts are bell shaped or pencil to mid-calf length and in layered and appliquéd lace, a typical combination being a belted jacket with full skirted tulle. The most elaborate item is a grey two-piece, corseted bustier and skirt embellished with more than 500 petals, feathers and pearls, each petal hand cut, hand burnt and applied to make a blossom that took two months work to make. It will have pride of place at Create, a fashion eventin Brown Thomas later this month.
One dress took 14 metres of organza to complete while another, called Camellia, in a deep French navy silk wool and tulle is standout item with a well defined silhouette. All her fabrics come from France and Italy, but the surface workmanship is all her own. Colours are mostly two shades of grey, anthracite and gunmetal in rich textures, but there is also navy and a Bordeaux lace column with two-way zips. Everything is lined in silk and corsetry is used to create structured bodices.
“I have been asked where my atelier is, but I make everything in my back garden (in Harold’s Cross). People are welcome to come and have a look and shouldn’t feel intimidated or that they have to buy”, she says. Prices are high, but the workmanship is considerable and carries the hand of the maker.