Fashion with a flourish: 44 Irish designers turn heads at online show

Presentation leaves viewers in no doubt that talent can thrive in adversity

Emerald green felt fedora (€265), FAO Millinery

Forty-four Irish designers, members of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers (CIFD), presented their first digital fashion show recently, an impressive half-hour-long presentation that left viewers in no doubt that talent can thrive in adversity.

The collections ranged across fashion, jewellery and accessories (hats, bags, scarves), with each designer showing three items. The nine milliners, for instance – whose business, usually dependent on social occasions such as weddings and race meetings, suffered greatly during the pandemic – rose to the challenge in buoyant form.

Double-breasted Irish tweed coat in alpaca and wool, €765, from the Landskein
Grey cashmere sweater (€259), lounge pants (€229), tote (€349), from Theo+George
Ivory wool handknit Ballintra cardigan, €425, from Gabrielle Malone
Enchanted forest pyjamas (€98), and ripple throw (€325) by KDK

Their joyful free-spirited creations set the tone, from Ashleigh Miles’s chunky pearl bridal crowns and Michelle Kearns’s golden-feathered swirls to Aoife Harrison’s sunny neon goose-feathered hats and Freya Oatway’s foxy fedoras.

Bag designers such as Julie Peelo catered for those going back to office work with capacious, handsome totes. Silvana Landa goes from strength to strength, her new collection of plexiglass chain handled leather bags being both stylish and practical while Aoife Rooney’s waterproof bags in reclaimed Econyl had a sporty, casual vibe.

Valentine Parchment Crepe de China embellished cape, €770, from Eadach
Gold lace dress, €840, by Sarah Murphy
White organdie and poplin shirt with handstitched detail (€485) and ribbon skirt (€860), by Helen Hayes
Red and white heart print dress by Heidi Higgins, €235

Scarf design continues to flourish – the KDK sisters now apply their print-making skills to pyjamas while Sarah O’Neill of Eadach mixes bold dark Roisin Dubh silk prints with rockstar embellished black vintage leather jackets.

If tweed is one of the big trends this winter, designers who showed their strengths here were Anna Guerin with her Landskein’s herringbone tweed coats, and Cleo Prickett’s belted jackets and trench coats. Theo George’s soft jersey separates looked both cool and comfortable while Sarah Murphy’s empire-style gold lace dress and Delphine Grandjouan’s embellished bias-cut bridal wear were the stuff of dreams.

Low-back bias-cut dress in light ivory silk satin (€2,450), with applique lace tulle tunic (€1,250), by Delphine Grandjouan
Large striped tote in Italian leather with orange stripe and magnetic closure (€265), by Julie Peelo
Star print silk satin dress with bow and ruched detail (€395), Niamh O’Neill
From the CIFD collaboration project: Helen Hayes’s ribbon work with glass rods by Laura Quinn, glass artist

CIFD used the lockdown productively creating a digital media library, generating collaborations between members, an Instagram campaign and a YouTube channel, along with a series of business development workshops. This year’s Irish Fashion Summit takes place on Saturday, November 20th, with guest speakers including Ashley McDonnell, global digital media and e-commerce manager of Puig.

The digital show, produced by Eddie Shanahan and supported by Peter Mark, Design and Crafts Council Ireland and Patrick McHugh Digital, can now be viewed online.