Create 2019: Irish fashion showcase launches at Brown Thomas
‘There is incredible talent in Ireland, and we are proud’ to feature it, says Shelly Corkery
“It’s such a confidence boost, seeing the presentation and being in a store of this calibre, surrounded by others and among your peers,” says Helen Hayes, one of the 33 designers at Create 2019, Brown Thomas’s annual fashion showcase, which began at the Dublin department store today.
With its focus on up-and-coming Irish talent across ready to wear and accessories, the event has taken on a life of its own since it made its debut, in 2010, and is now a regular fixture on the fashion calendar. This year’s showcase – the biggest so far – includes homewares and artisanal food.
Hayes, who is from Borrisokane, in Co Tipperary, and was originally a graphic designer, spent a decade studying part time, at night, at Grafton Academy of Fashion Design. This is her first venture into retail. Her meticulously crafted handmade skirts, blouses, jackets and bags in duchesse, organdie and boiled wool are appliqued with 3D motifs inspired by fortune-telling paper squares.
Shelly Corkery, Brown Thomas’s director of fashion, interviewed more than 70 applicants before making this year’s selection
An apron in black-and-white triangular satin motifs intricately stitched together and worn over a white organdie shirt displays her forensic attention to detail. “I am really quite excited to get instant responses and see how people react to it,” Hayes says.
The first eye-catching display when you arrive at Create, on Brown Thomas’s designer floor, is a full wall of millinery – everything from flamboyant black-and-gold feather affairs by Aoife Harrison to jewelled headbands by Jennifer Kelly, a newcomer already the subject of attention from passersby.
Mannequins display the avant-garde work – laser-cut dresses and skirts with hand-stitched detail – of Heather Gilroy, winner of this year’s National College of Art and Design and Brown Thomas Designer to Watch bursary.
Shelly Corkery, Brown Thomas’s director of fashion, interviewed more than 70 applicants before making this year’s selection. The award-winning London-based Irish designer Katie Ann McGuigan was a clear favourite, for her “lovely feminine dresses, with a Bohemian feel, in gold and green and sea blue”, says Corkery.
Others taking part include Anna Guerin, whose Dualist collection of tailored coats are made from sustainably woven Donegal tweed; Faye Dinsmore, with a range of hand-knitted Aran sweaters; Alanagh Clegg, whose Four Threads pieces also prioritise sustainability, using handwoven cotton and Irish linen; and Triona Lillis and Aoibheann McNamara , whose Tweed Project uses only indigenous fabrics.
Some participants are familiar names with new collections. Lainey Keogh has soft pink and orange cashmere sweaters, and Úna Burke, who continues her work with leather and brass-studded harnesses, belts and bags, now incorporates jewelling details. The knitter Lucy Nagle is one of the talents now permanently stocked by Brown Thomas, along with the accessory designers Susannagh Grogan, Bláithín Ennis and KDK.
“People love choice,” says Corkery, who guides newcomers through commercial and presentational demands, “and this year we really looked for newness. They are the next in terms of retail, and that is why we do this project. They get business awareness here, as they attend the floor and listen to customers. Many are wide open for development. There is incredible talent in Ireland today, and we are proud to showcase it.”