Dressing for special events: Harvey Nichols launches new collection


AT A press preview in Dundrum yesterday, Harvey Nichols womenswear buyer Charlotte Southern introduced key pieces from the winter season in an area newly dedicated to special occasion dressing.

“Customers are more receptive to spending more when it comes to weddings, races or evening events and the Irish love colour and dressing up,” she said, adding that social media exposure was another factor.

“If others are going to see what you wore at a wedding on Facebook for the next 10 years, you’ll want something more special than something from the high street,” she said.

The luxury company recently announced the appointment of Irish-born former Grazia style editor Paula Reid as its new creative fashion director. She will take up the post in September, coinciding with a multimillion-pound revamp of the company’s Knightsbridge flagship next year.

Many unfamiliar new labels like Beulah, an ethical luxury brand favoured by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, along with Manchester-based Philip Armstrong and Australian Rachel Gilbert will join Irish designers like FeeG and Galway-based milliner Edel Ramberg in the new area.

Most of the dresses have a formal evening cocktail look, with brocaded fabrics, lace trimmings and crystal encrusted embellishments, of which FeeG’s blue brocaded silk coat with jewelled buttons and matching dress was typical.

Southern attributes this more conservative approach to the influence of the Duchess of Cambridge. “Her style is classic rather than on trend and women aspire to that and don’t necessarily want the latest thing,” she argues.

Prices range from €200 for a FeeG dress up to over €1,200 for Armstrong’s elaborately jewelled affairs, which have a celebrity following among UK footballers’ wives and Lady Gaga.