Celebrate in style and comfort with dresses in Irish linen and silk

Niamh O’Neill describes her new collection as authentic, sustainable and contemporary

“A Christmas dinner friendly dress” is how Niamh O’Neill describes the comfort of one of her best-selling shapes, a shirt dress with a forgiving gathered skirt . This season it is refreshed in an oatmeal and white Irish linen. “It sits on the shoulders so you can see the frame and it makes you feel comfortable,” she says. The skirt is gathered with pockets.

This year, her 10th in business, is marked with a spring collection which is one of her most assured and concise to date. She describes it as authentic and sustainable and instead of looking abroad for fabrics, “Covid forced me to look inwards at the whole heritage culture of fabrics in Ireland, so I wanted to celebrate Irish linen”, which she has introduced along with organic cotton and silk mikado (a heavier weight silk).

The collection also includes another winning silhouette with fitted bodice and flared skirt, “a dress in which to celebrate”, styled here with diamante earrings and high heels. “If there is a common thread to my approach it is that I have tried different things and some have worked and others have failed, but my customers appreciate cut and fabric and my collections have stayed the same size. This one has been edited down, but I have tried to keep it more contemporary,” she says.

Covid forced her to expand her online offering, which grew from 20 per cent of her business to its present 60 per cent, mostly within Ireland but also to the UK and worldwide. She has recently introduced knitwear which will be expanded in her winter collection, adding more colour and styles specifically designed to complement the collection.

Noticeable for spring and summer are the different effects that colours can create in the same styles; for instance, the navy “Celebrate” dress looks entirely different, almost matrimonial, in champagne silk, while the oversize shirt dress has another character entirely in pristine white linen compared to a more earthy oatmeal shade. A new blue and white floral print originated as a watercolour, subsequently painted on organic cotton in Germany.

The collection is made in Europe and can be found in Arnotts and online at niamhoneill.com

Niamh O'Neill will be one of many designers taking part in the ARC Fashion Show in aid of ARC Cancer Support Centres on Thursday, April 21st at the RDS. arccancersupport.ie