On the rails
Deirdre McQuillan likes what she sees in Lennon Courtney’s latest collection
Determination has a name and it is Lennon Courtney. The latest collection by the former Off the Rails presenters – Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney – goes on sale online next week and the pair are making big efforts to entice UK buyers like Harvey Nichols and John Lewis.
This collection, says Lennon, “is not about trends or changes of direction, it’s a gentle evolution – we want to grow the possibilities and potential of a woman’s wardrobe, not do a volte face,” she says repeating her mantra that it’s about fashion workhorses, with jewellery and accessories the show ponies. They are currently working with Pauric Sweeney on two limited-edition bags, a clutch and a tote, at affordable price points.
Whatever about the workhorses, there is no stop to their gallop on the tough racecourse that is fashion. “It’s such a graft” says Lennon. “The whole process is the least glamorous thing you can do and nobody can prepare you for it.” The most successful item in their debut collection was what they called the “Hero” dress and the new collection features a new version in a different fabric and in three different forms.
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The pencil skirt also struck a chord. “It was really interesting that it appealed to women from their 20s to those in their 60s,” says Lennon, admitting that some of the tailoring didn’t work as well as they had hoped – getting the fit right was a challenge, but they’re hoping to work with the new tailoring academy in Dublin to improve this.
Similarly, print was another area they hoped to crack, “so it’s step by step”, she says. Budgetary constraints limit them. “We’ve learned to stick to what we’re good at, the core pieces.” Knitwear, all made in Ireland, is a strong point in the range.
Fabrics used include silks, organzas and a “techno stretch” as well as a cashmere/cotton mix and lambswool for knitwear “because we want to make our range as washable as possible”, says Lennon. There will be winners and losers in this mostly monochrome collection which they describe as “dark, Gothic, but sophisticated”.