Manhattan Transfer for Louise Kennedy

Fashion Designer Louise Kennedy is planning to show her lastest collection for the first time in New York later this season, writes Deirdre McQuillan


It has always been her ambition to have a store in New York and Louise Kennedy has been working in her characteristic steady way to make it happen. She has been building contacts and networks with a considerable regular clientele from the States through her London flagship in Belgravia.

The thriving London shop attracts international customers, well-heeled women of 30-plus who appreciate the luxury fabrics she uses, the fine cashmere coats, the silk-lined, double-face crepe dresses, the separates in Sophie Hallette lace (the lace favoured by Kate Middleton) and hand-printed caftans tailored for a l ife g eared to occasions such as the races, weddings, the Chelsea Flower Show, Henley Regatta or travel.

She’s no stranger to that life herself and is currently in India where she designs and oversees all the hand-beading and embellishment on her clothing. She travels to Paris next week for Premiere Vision to select fabrics, then back to London before heading to factories in Italy and Portugal with her assistant of 10 years Peter Shaffrey. Christmas and New Year was spent in Miami and her spring collection was inspired by a trip to Marrakech.

The collection that will cross the Atlantic neatly divides into four main colour blocks mixing soft delicate shades with hot and vibrant fuchsias and tangerines.

There’s inky navy, blush pink, peppermint and Majorelle blue, the latter an intense lapis lazuli inspired by the walls of Yves St Laurent’s garden in the Moroccan city.

Shaffrey points out a travel wardrobe; how four pieces can be combined in four different ways to cover four social events and how items can be dressed down, with trainers and jeans.

Summer coats – one-button numbers in pale brocades – are teamed with crepe dresses dyed the same shade, a contrast to the collarless, roomy and more workmanlike navy coats with three-quarter sleeves.

Simple but flattering sleeveless tops work with either pencil skirts or cigarette pants, some with tracksuit-style stripes.

There are little cashmere knits, caftans embellished with white beading and her usual array of scarves. Last year Kennedy launched a handbag and fragrance; next on the list could be shoes and eyewear, but in the meantime New York is her next challenge.

From left: navy jersey cocoon top €695 with Kennedy bag in Kerry blue €1,495, jeans, Paige at Brown Thomas, trainers , Converse; cashmere blend coat €1,295, nude heels, Manolo Blanhik at Brown Thomas tangerine and fuchsia jersey column dress €1,495, sandals, Prada at Brown Thomas; navy and white jersey top €495 and navy jersey trousers with white trim €495, trainers , Converse

All from Louise Kennedy,
52 Merrion Square, Dublin and Brown Thomas, Dublin