There is nothing like a crisp white shirt to brighten the complexion and an outfit, the best are those with some extra feminine detail or flourish. Enter Louise Kennedy whose latest venture is a range of white shirts in collaboration with one of the world's most famous shirtmakers Turnbull & Asser in London, a name synonymous with gold standard craftsmanship.
It's yet another feather in the cap of Kennedy who has designed everything from bridal wear to crystal, china, handbags, jewellery, airline uniforms, ecclesiastical garments, judicial robes and fragrance. It is also a first for the British company founded in the 19th century, which has dressed successive James Bonds, and other celebrated customers, and has a royal warrant from Prince Charles. Where better to start?
The collection consists of four shirts, called Louise, Yasmin, Lauren and Katherine in two fabrics: 100 per cent pure cotton and a newly developed stretch fabric. Louise and Yasmin, the two oversize shirts in pure cotton that would team well with skinny or slim trousers, have petite centre front ruffles or little modish shoulder cut-outs, both with single button cuffs.
The other two are more fitted and framed around the shoulder and cuff with Swiss cotton lace trim. All have the same collar. It's a stylish debut with further collections promised and has even been welcomed by the prime minister's office in Downing Street, which issued a statement describing the collection as "stunning" saying the collaboration "exemplified the ever deeper cultural and trade links between Ireland and the UK".
Kennedy has spent nearly two years in research and development of the range working with the company factory in Gloucester with her usual fastidious attention to detail. Construction is precise with single needle stitching, non-fused collars, bias-cut yokes, side gusset and buttonholes that ensure that the buttons rest on the stitched cushion rather than the shirt fabric. These buttons, pressed from quality, ethically-sourced Australian deep shell mother of pearl are attached with a strong crossed-lock stitch to prevent them from ever detaching – talking points if nothing else.
Turnbull & Asser is run today by former Brown Thomas manager Nigel Blow with head of design Dean Gomilsek-Cole, brought in from Timberland to inject modernity and more playful ideas to its collections. Though this is the first womenswear shirting collection in its long history, the company has had many celebrated female customers over the years including Lauren Bacall who ordered plain no-frills silk shirts to wear with her signature trouser suits.
Katharine Hepburn, another Hollywood legend who favoured masculine attire, wore Turnbull & Asser shirts from the late 1960s until her death in 2003 aged 96. "The Great Kate" ordered black silk tunics with mandarin collars. The 1970s model Twiggy sported their boyish silk shirts with ties while Bianca Jagger preferred sexier transparent voile shirts.
Kennedy, who is an international ambassador for the Great Britain marketing campaign, began working with Turnbull and Asser in 2014 selling its men’s shirts in her Merrion Square headquarters where her new collection (from 395-495) aimed at a “desk to dinner” clientele will go on sale this month. They are also stocked in her shop in London and Brown Thomas.Visit louisekennedy.com
Photograpy by Barry McCall, stylist Catherine Condell. Location 61 Merrion Square, Dublin, architect Neil Burke Kennedy