Irish design in spotlight at RDS


THE SEDATE RDS Library was the setting last night for a runway show highlighting Irish fashion design and accessories.

The event was the first of its kind for Showcase, Ireland’s Creative Expo, and in its breadth and scope it was the first of its kind in Ireland.

Showcase, which is now in its 36th year and continues until Wednesday, features 350 leading craftspeople, designers and manufacturers under one roof at the RDS.

Last night’s fashion show, directed by Sonia Reynolds and styled by Catherine Condell, featured some 70 outfits drawn from 95 suppliers from around the country. “Craft and craftsmanship are becoming more and more important in fashion and we want to bring the connection between craft and fashion closer,” said Brian McGee, head of market development at the Crafts Council of Ireland, which sponsored the show.

In front of an invited audience of local and international buyers, the show opened with Dais II, a short fashion movie made by Sonya Lennon. It was followed by a line-up of signature outfits from eight Irish fashion designers including John Rocha, Peter O’Brien, Tim Ryan, Eilis Boyle, Róisín Gartland and Joanne Hynes. Louise Kennedy, who launched her new crystal collection, Oriana, for Tipperary Crystal yesterday, presented two lace wedding dresses, while Paul Costelloe’s chunky tweeds made by Hanlys in Nenagh were from his final women’s wear collection.

What made this show special was the stylish mix of contrasting elements and layered textures, giving a modern, youthful spin and dandyish twist to conventional images of traditional Irish tweeds and knits.

It featured cable knits teamed with taffeta skirts, tailcoats sported over tulle aprons and gold knitted shifts under chunky Aran throws assembled from established players such as Avoca, Carraig Donn and Jimmy Hourihan, along with newcomers including Bouzie, Heidi Higgins, Claire O’Connor and Helen Steele.

“There are a lot of new designers in Ireland who don’t have a platform to show at home or abroad. Craft has the ability to connect the old with the new and we want to be a platform for them,” said Mr McGee.

“Ultimately my goal would be to bring clusters abroad to international shows.”