Irish fashion: 17 stand-out moments from 2018
It’s been a year of success stories in Irish fashion. Here are some memorable moments from Samantha Barry to traveller models
The #wearingIrish winners of Margaret Molloy’s ambitious project who travelled to New York.
Janet Jackson performs on stage wearing a black leather bodice by Irish designer Una Burke at the MTV European Video Music Awards in Bilbao, Spain. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/ FilmMagic
A model at the Richard Malone show during London Fashion Week. Photograph: Ian Gavan/ BFC/ Getty Images for BFC
Simone Rocha was invited to curate ‘A Magazine Curated By’ which was launched at Frieze in London in October. Photograph: Ben Toms, styled by Robbie Spencer
Model brothers Liam and Paddy Doran, from Celbridge, Co Kildare. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Chupi Sweetman, the jewellery designer. Photograph Nick Bradshaw
Samantha Barry was named editor-in-chief of ‘Glamour’ magazine, in New York. Photograph: J. Quazi King/ The New York Times
The Paul Smith Collection from a shoot in Dublin. Photograph: James Mooney
Offaly native Margaret Molloy’s ambitious project to bring Irish fashion to New York with her #WearingIrish campaign “to tell the story of contemporary Irish fashion” had real results. Ten designers were selected by Molloy (CMO Siegel+Gale) for the event supported by Bank of Ireland, Department of Foreign Affairs, Tourism Ireland, CIE Tours, Northern Ireland Bureau and Invest Northern Ireland in a novel collaboration that reaped many commercial results. “No one says no to Molloy,” was one guest’s comment at the presentation. Alison Conneely’s elegant collection stole the hearts of Bloomingdales’ buyers – she is now stocked on the store’s new luxury floor alongside Chanel in a major breakthrough for the designer.
In January Celbridge brothers Liam (17) and Paddy Doran (16) starred in a new campaign for Savile Row heritage brand Kent & Curwen (whose creative director is Dubliner Daniel Kearns) shot by Perry Ogden and were the subjects of the photographer’s book Paddy & Liam, which was launched in London and later in New York. The pair, both boxers, have modelled for big fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, H&M, Ralph Lauren and Fred Perry but are unfazed by some of the most expensive clothes in the world. “The clothes are nice but wouldn’t be what we would wear,” Liam told The Irish Times.
Richard Malone and Repeal
In April, 26-year-old acclaimed Irish designer Richard Malone hit the headlines when he staged a pro-choice event in the window of Selfridges in London which grabbed the attention of passersby but was immediately removed by the company. The pop-up installation, part of Selfridges’ “Anatomy of Luxury” project curated by designer Gareth Pugh, saw Malone wearing a “Read. Redact. Repeal” T-shirt at the event where he sprayed the slogan “Women’s rights are human rights,” on the window. His first solo show, Rinse Repeat, opened at the Now gallery in London in November.
In February, Ciara Nic Chormaic’s groundbreaking series on TG4 called Snáithe (thread) explored Irish fashion past and present through the eyes of historians, designers and experts. It was such a success that there are now plans to develop a further series on Irish fashion.
Samantha Barry and ‘Glamour’
In January Conde Nast announced the appointment of Irish journalist 34-year-old Samantha Barry from Cork as the new editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine based in New York. Anna Wintour described the Irish digital native editor as “fearless” though in November Conde Nast announced that it was ending regular print production of the magazine which had a circulation of 2.2 million to move the focus to online and YouTube. “Glamour is a brand – not just a magazine,” Barry said when taking it over.
Paul Smith’s Irish shoot
An Irish creative team led by London-based Alan Aboud from Rathgar shot Paul Smith’s latest campaign in areas around Dublin relating to James Joyce, using models that included one of the original Pony Kids. Photographer James Mooney found him washing his horse in a car wash and the image of him sitting on his horse became their cover story. “I have always had an affection for Ireland,” said the British fashion legend.
The achievements of Irish activist and teacher who has broadened her international horizons in the fashion world in the past year and a half were capped in October by a Leader Award presented to her at the Green Carpet Awards on the stage of La Scala, Milan by Gucci chief executive Marco Bizzarri. The award was in recognition of Burke’s tireless advocacy in raising public awareness of design and disability and for her decades-long support of diversity in fashion.
Janet Jackson wears Irish
In November singer Janet Jackson (52) wore a specially made intricate black leather bodice with flying straps by Irish designer Una Burke at the MTV European Video Music Awards in Bilbao when she received a Global Icon Award. For Burke it topped another successful year when in March her biggest collection of leather bags, belts, bracelets, chokers and harnesses was part of the launch of Selfridges’ new 60,000sq ft Accessories Hall in London, the biggest in the world.
Don O’Neill’s triumph
New York-based Irish designer Don O’Neill, who was honoured by Cork University in 2015 and is known for his glamorous gowns as creative director of Theia, made international news when the Duchess of Sussex was seen wearing one of his gowns for an official dinner in Tonga as part of the royal tour. “I am beyond excited, thrilled and delighted,” he tweeted. The long ivory dress with side slits had a jewel neckline and was embellished with crystal appliqué and tiny glass beads.
Natalie B Coleman
Her work “Sisters” from her a/w 18 collection called “Guaranteed to Bleed” drew the attention of the UN Population Fund in New York which has commissioned her to design a special collection for 2019 based around the message of women’s empowerment to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The collection will debut at London Fashion Week in February, the pieces highlighting handwork traditionally associated with women – crochet, knit, Carrickmacross lace and embroidery.
The Mayo-based fine jeweller who set up his state-of-the-art workshop in Castlebar just over a year ago is already attracting a lot of international attention for the calibre and artistry of his work. His jewellery, which can be found in Ashford Castle, will also be the subject of a major exhibition being planned at the American Irish Historical Society on 5th Avenue in New York in 2019. Interviews with him are due to appear in US Vogue and W magazines in the new year.
The award-winning Dublin jewellery star who now employs 25 people in her Dublin workshop extended her fan base in November with her first pop-up in the Fort Lauderdale branch of famed US department store Macy’s. The pop-up, her first venture in the US, will run until February. She has now added to her vermeil collection, an haute jewellery range with grey, black and white diamonds. “I make jewellery that marks moments and tells stories designed to be future heirlooms,” she says.
The London-based Irish designer joined an illustrious list of international designers invited to curate “A Magazine Curated By” which was launched at Frieze in London in October. For its 18th issue, Rocha assembled an international cast of contributors that included friends, family and creative collaborators. In it she explored ideas of femininity, family and identity and celebrated her Irish and Chinese heritage.
Former model Dinsmore’s efforts to maintain knitting skills in her native Donegal was the basis of her collection of handknits for children launched in Create. She now wants to put in place plans to form a collective of knitters in the area so that they can pass on their skills to a new generation.
Alongside his fashion line, the designer launched his first furniture collection for Dunnes Stores in November with five pieces – a cocktail cabinet, a console table, a room divider, coffee table and sideboard in oak veneer and metal designed to suit both contemporary interiors as well as older houses with spacious rooms.
Ireland’s glove queen spread her collections further this year boosting her reputation internationally with the opening of a luxury store in Rotterdam which took all her designs following on her deliveries to Corso Como concept stores in Milan and New York’s Seaport District in the Fulton Market building with 28,000sq ft on its first floor. Her many fans include Helen Mirren, Kate Moss, Madonna and Martin Scorsese, not forgetting Sabina Higgins. All her gloves are made in Naples in family-run factories that she visits several times a year to ensure quality control.
The velvet collective
A pioneering initiative was launched by designers Deirdre Hynes of We Are Islanders and Alison Conneely to create a conversation between fashion and art in all its forms. The first two in a series of six events took place at the Cliff House on St Stephen’s Green and were both a selling exercise for designers – fashion, jewellery and furniture – as well as facilitating thought-provoking conversations with creative professionals. The panel for the November event, for example, saw Grace Weir, Jesse Jones and Susan Zelouf describe their concepts and processes with Rachel Thomas of IMMA. Another event, with the theme “Dressing Provocatively”, took place at the RHA on Sunday, December 16th.