French flounce and flair in superstar stylist's collection for Zara

Style File: How menswear influences womenswear and vice versa is the theme of a new exhibition in Belfast

Pinstripes and jewellery from Zara’s new collection.


It’s hard not to be impressed with Steven Meisel’s new campaign images for Zara, with superstar stylist Karl Templer and French art director Fabien Baron. The clothes are a very French mixture of tailoring and flounce, of street smart pinstripes and skirts layered on top of dresses and worn with fur-trimmed coats, “a refined magnie piecing together of thrift with an elevated eye blurring the lines between femininity and structure, confinement and ease” is how they put it. The use of jewellery and accessories lifts everything and shows how the judicious use of brooches, necklaces and earrings can transform and embolden any outfit.


The Vice Versa exhibition explores men and womenswear from the early 17th century to the present day.

How menswear influences womenswear and vice versa is the theme of an interesting new exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, which has an impressive costume collection and an ongoing purchasing policy. Called Vice Versa, the exhibition explores men and womenswear from the early 17th century to the present day, and the many ways in which women have appropriated male attire down the years.

Yves St Laurent made headlines when he launched his famous Le Smoking tuxedo for women inspired by Marlene Dietrich, a style that continues to create an impact; recently the model Cara Delevingne stole the show in a black tuxedo suit and topper at Princess Eugenie’s wedding in London.

Vice Versa displays a version of Le Smoking (made for the designer’s mother), along with outfits from designers Rifak Ozbek, Vivienne Westwood and Balenciaga, as well as an 18th-century French silk court suit once belonging to the 2nd Earl of Belvedere, a Qinq dynasty imperial robe, as well as pieces from Coco Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy.


A 3D printed men’s double-breasted hourglass coat designed by Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga with feminine curves is one of the exhibition’s high points, “and most disruptive to gender norms”, according to curator Charlotte McReynolds.

“Labels today are being challenged. Women have long embraced men’s fashion, but womenswear has also influenced men’s clothing and these fashions from past and present challenge our understanding of ‘his and hers’ clothing as gender neutral clothing labels become more common.” Admission free.


Chocolate diamond Astral ring by Jessica Poole €3,225 at Stonechat, Westbury Mall, Dublin.

Ever heard of chocolate diamonds? I don’t mean chocolate made to look like a bright cut stone, but actual diamonds the colour of chocolate? Along with rhodolite garnets, these stones are what make the work of Irish goldsmith Jessica Poole stand out for its originality and craftsmanship, fluid forms and deceptive simplicity.

Poole, who trained in Kilkenny, is the latest designer to join others like Helena Malone, Séamus Gill and Michael O’Dwyer in Stonechat jewellers, though she now works in London. Last year she carried off three important Fine Jewellery Awards from Boodles in Goldsmith’s Hall in London for her Jabot Bow & Arrow brooch, intricately made with gold and diamonds. Her handmade jewellery and stone setting mark out her work’s subtle beauty like this piece, a chocolate diamond Astral ring (€3,225) which, along with other elegant rings like it, can be found in Stonechat in the Westbury Mall, Dublin.