Jeweller with a tale of a tail to tell
Stylefile: Emer Roberts rat-inspired pieces, Belfast denim and new childrenswear Kirkbee
Gold pendants by Emer Roberts
Irish jewellery maker Emer Roberts scooped up two awards in one week, awarded Accessories Designer of the Year for her “Wearable Biology” collection by the IDI (Institute of Designers of Ireland) and Best Product Award for her Zipper Link ring at Showcase. Her work is heavily influenced by her background as an artist and sculptor (she has a Masters degree in fine art, sculpture) and her winning collection Wearable Biology features an unusual choice of subject. It focuses on the tail of a rat with its distinctive texture – not everyone’s choice of animal – while her Zipper Link ring is composed of interlinking pieces. She works from her own moulds and her designs include pendants, rings, earrings in sterling silver, 9 and 18 carat gold and platinum. emerroberts.com
Pretty little things
Karen Kirby has always maintained that if you have a daughter, there is only a short time to her the way you want before she starts to assert her own whims and choices. Kirby’s dresses with their Peter Pan collars, smocking and simple lines, she would argue, are pieces to keep and treasure rather than discard when they get too small.
As the daughter of a seamstress and the granddaughter of a tailor, she has a long background in fashion. She worked as a head designer for Michael H’s plus size collection for many years. Now a mother of three, she founded her childrenswear brand Kirkbee Designs after the birth of her first daughter. It has just launched in Brown Thomas in Dublin and Cork and its offering in House of Fraser in Dundrum has been increased. Dresses, many in gingham, from the spring summer collection start at €65.
Believe it or not, this dramatic patchwork denim gown was made as a wedding dress. It is the work of an emerging Belfast based designer called Marie Nancarrow with a label called Titanic Denim. Winner of the Best Creative Business at the Belfast Business Awards last year, she is one of a growing number of Irish designers taking a repurposing approach to fashion, breathing new life into discarded denim and old jeans. She takes its craft spirit from that of Belfast’s 200-year-old shipyard history – riveting being a common link to both shipbuilding and the brand identity of Levi Strauss jeans. Born into a family of rockers in the 1960s, Nancarrow’s father played with Van Morrison while her brother set up his own group, and patching up old denim and jackets became a feature of her teenage years.
Having studied fashion and textiles in Belfast, she honed her experience working with Paul Costelloe, then moved to Milan before returning to Belfast as a single mother. As well as developing her brand, Nancarrow works with stylists to stars such as Katie Perry, Robbie Williams and Def Leppard when the big gigs come to Belfast. An expert on fashion and sustainability, she exhibited her work in Dublin recently at Fashion Relief 2019 at the RDS. titanicdenim.com