Hail Havana: The Dublin boutique still going strong after 25 stylish years
Nikki Creedon has always been the best advertisement for her Donnybrook boutique
Shirt €490 Comme des Garcons, belt €255 Anne Demeulemeester, coat €2490 by Rick Owens.
Whatever she wears, she has always been the best advertisement for her Dublin boutique. This year Nikki Creedon celebrates 25 years of Havana in Donnybrook, a style destination with a strong identity known for an often avant garde fashion selection and for introducing now well-known international names to Ireland. “I am lucky that I have a great wardrobe”, she smiles when we meet in Paris during fashion week on one of her regular buying trips to the French capital.
Dressed sharply in black as usual, she is wearing trousers by Rick Owens, a wide, curved sleeved jacket by Comme des Garcons, shoes by Stella McCartney and socks from Topshop with a leather bag from Massimo Paloma. “I like a slightly feminine touch to an androgynous look”, she says. “Adding few touches like dangly earrings and pretty socks”.
Fashion was always a passion. Having started her career working for Paul Costelloe in Dublin in the 1980s, she later worked with Marian Gale when Gale opened a shop on the northside (one newspaper mischievously dubbed it the best thing that happened to Clontarf since Brian Boru).
Not long afterwards she was part of Design Centre in St Stephen’s Green (now Topshop), a hub of some 25 up and coming designers including Philip Treacy, Lainey Keogh, Mariad Whisker and Sharon Blankson (now with U2). “It was innovative and exciting and we had queues down the stairs every weekend,” she recalls. “There was a great emphasis on individuality then - today there is more uniformity.” Later a move to the Powerscourt Centre followed.
Then a mother of two young children, she decided to take the plunge and set up her own business, calling the shop Havana because she liked the sound of the name. “I started with half the shop Irish designers like Lainey, Glynis Robbins, Mary Donoghue, John Rocha and Mariad Whisker and the other half international names like Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons because I always had that fascination with Japanese designers”. Others in the mix being Rick Owens and Anne Demeulemeester that she still carries today. “I never thought I that I would be all things to all people – I wanted something that identified the shop as being different to any other,” she explains.
Survival in a demanding environment with increasing customer awareness of international trends and online competition has been a challenge for a small bricks-and-mortar Dublin business. “People have become more quality conscious – we sell the best cashmere from two Irish brands Sphere One and Castenea and though they are expensive, they fly out”, she says. “If anyone else picked up on any of my designers, I would drop them. I am also conscious of getting older and people are moving with me, but a lot of my staff are younger and I encourage then to tell me what they want to sell that fits within the ethos of the shop”. There are some 20 different brands along with accessories – scarves, bags, shoes and jewellery and a great emphasis is put on customer service.
Shown here are a number of current statement pieces, expensive investment items particularly those from a new Danish range she has recently introduced called Cecilie Bahnsen. A Copenhagen native who returned home after graduating from the RCA and a LVMH prizewinner, her luxurious and romantic dresses are a new take on modern femininity. “And her fabrics are exquisite”, enthuses Creedon who is also the sole stockiest of Simone Rocha in Ireland.
“For me I love buying and selling and the thrill of opening the boxes when they arrive – it’s a very sociable job with a lot of people on the same wavelength so it’s like therapy. And it could be worse having to come to Paris to buy, come on,” she says with a laugh before grabbing her bag and heading off to the Rick Owens spring summer catwalk show.
Photography Louise Samuelsen assisted by Mark McGuinness, creative director and stylist Paula Hughes assisted by Julie Gavin, hair and make up Sarah Jane Lanagan, model Laura Rakhman Kidd @ NotAnotherAgency Shot at Powerscourt Gardens, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow.