A fashion designer’s pet hates: slip dresses and mothers of the bride all in lace

Fashion: Maire Forkin has dressed everyone from a Eurovision winner to Saudi royals

This month, race meetings are taking place all over Ireland, having started in Galway, Cork and the Curragh, and on to Leopardstown, Dundalk and Killarney, continuing right into December. Between best dressed competitions and August, September and October being the peak months for weddings in Ireland, milliners and boutiques are busy countrywide.

With thousands of euros in prizes in some competitions and other special occasions, it is not surprising there are so many incentives to dress up and flaunt the finery. So how are you going to think you look in the photos, 10 years down the line? Happy with that flying disc on your head?

Standard fashion advice for weddings, race meetings or other special occasions has always been to wear something that suits your figure in colours that complement your complexion, taking careful note of accessories and footwear in styles that don’t let the outfit down.

Dublin-based fashion designer Maire Forkin is skilled in meeting such demands. Her career in London has spanned more than a decade both in couture and in the equally cut throat world of high street ready to wear.

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Regular trips to the city keep her abreast of current trends at the high end “as my customers are very well versed in what is happening in fashion. Most brands like Chanel, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen are playing safe these days,” she observes.

Importance of structure

An Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD) graduate who trained with a tailor in Savile Row as well as with Catherine Walker (a favourite of British royals), she hates slip dresses and mothers of the bride in lace and insists on the importance of structure, shaping a silhouette without corsetry.

Like all good tailors, her clothes are adapted to fit and flatter a client’s figure, a look not always achieved in standard sizing. At €1,300-€1,800 for an outfit, her clothes are expensive, though not compared to many international designers, the prices justified by the made-to-measure quality fabrics, the handwork, fittings, attention to detail and finish. The overall effect is one of streamlined elegance with clothes lined with silk and often marked by a single flourish. This is not throwaway fashion.

“Ninety per cent of customers wear 10 per cent of what’s in their wardrobe, so I explain how important it is that they know how to wear a garment in different ways – that they think through what they are buying and how it will mix and match. I ask them are you going to wear that coat for the rest of your life? It is about investment pieces and making them work,” she says.

Most of her clients – be they Irish, American or from the UK – will let her lead in terms of style, sizing and silhouette. “Mothers of the bride and groom want to look a bit different and the trend for the coat and dress has now changed to two pieces – a top and skirt – that can be worn again and again or in different ways with a cape or snug. Some are even asking for trousers now.”

It is not fast fashion either as she recommends that clients should allow about 12 weeks from initial consultation and measurement for the completion of an outfit. Getting an expensive piece made to measure may not be for everyone, but for others the price per wear may justify the outlay for something special.

Stylist: Sarah Rickard; photographer: Veronica Faustman; Hair: Aiden Darcy for Sugar Cubed; Make-up: Aisling Kelly. Marie Forkin, 58 Fitzwilliam Square North, Dublin 2; 086-1721563; marieforkin.ie