Vintage style

Charlotte & Jane’s winter collection reflects the curves of bygone days


Curvy, full-skirted and tailored, a modern take on the 1940s and 1950s; that’s the latest collection from Charlotte and Jane, a talented design duo based in Kinsale. Since Charlotte Cargin and Jane Skovgard started making their hourglass dresses in native fabrics five years ago, they have become an Irish success story.

Their coachhouse studio overlooking the harbour is a destination for customers looking for their super-elegant but playful shapes in specially dyed tweeds, wools and fine linens, sourced from mills in Kerry, Wexford and Donegal. Already this year they have had four Best Dressed winners at racemeetings around the country, including Punchestown.

For winter, they have added eight new designs to their collection, they’re featuring jackets for the first time and some hand-blocked silks from India.

“We have been working on patterns for jackets for some time and ours is a fusion of 1940s and 1950s riding jackets blended with the silhouette of a full skirt,” says Cargin. As the hemline of the full skirt is just below the jacket and the back of the jacket lower than the front, from behind it looks like a waisted full-skirt dress.

Note the buttons this season. They come from a vintage stash of the Cork Button Company (

Following a trip to India, they are now sourcing hand-blocked silks made to their own designs from a Fair Trade company in Hyderabad. These are used so beautifully, for instance in the contrast colour skirts. Others are used in linings. “Think Audrey Hepburn with a twist of Marlene Dietrich,” Cargin says.

Although they no longer go around the country to take orders or sell to boutiques, they make to suit each individual, and every two months relocate for two days to the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, where they spend 45 minutes with each new or regular customer. They are there today and tomorrow. Their most high profile client is Imelda May, “who loves supporting Irish”, says Cargin.

Michelle Muntefering, a German journalist who is running for election and is the wife of the former vice-chancellor of the German parliament, Franz Muntefering, has become their latest fan.