Event seeks to loosen shoppers' purse strings


DUBLIN FASHION Festival organisers got the best weather they could have hoped for when the event kicked off yesterday morning with the first in a series of fashion shows on the city’s streets.

Though a slight wind caused a few Seven-Year Itch moments for show organiser Trish Fallon of 1st Option model agency, the sun was shining on the models – including Layla Flaherty of Channel 4’s Desperate Scousewives and Kellie Forde, who was recently featured on Living TV’s Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model.

The festival, which is in its third year, is co-ordinated by Dublin City Business Improvement District in association with the city’s retailers, with the aim of motivating shoppers to come into the city and, crucially, spend money.

Dolly Webb and Jennifer Finn from Kildare were in Dublin for a day’s shopping when they stumbled upon the Henry Street show.

They didn’t know anything about the festival, but said the show would encourage them to take a closer look at what the retailers had to offer.

“I wouldn’t have thought that was from River Island,” said Finn, pointing to a leather-look dress on the catwalk.

“If I had her figure, I’d go in and have a look,” said Webb, who enjoyed the show. “It gives us a bit of a girly feel while we’re up.”

Ann O’Carroll from Limerick, was similarly enthusiastic. “I thought it was fantastic. I just came up for the day and didn’t know it was on but, sure, I had to stand and watch it.”

The shows continued throughout the day, with two on the northside of the city and a further two at the junction of Grafton and South King streets, while evening events kicked off with Brown Thomas’s hosting of Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out.

The event comprised catwalk shows, beauty events and a “become a cover star” photography event, where attendees were photographed against a blank backdrop and then given a mocked-up Vogue cover featuring their snap – but it was largely business as usual for the Grafton Street store.

The only activity that indicated a special event was the presence of queues – for the photographer, tucked away behind the handbag department, and for a fragrance workshop on the ground floor.

Upstairs, a catwalk show took place featuring six or seven models, with roughly 20 chairs laid out for spectators. It finished within 10 minutes.

A young woman with a microphone thanked people for coming and the crowd dispersed.

On Dawson Street, a flash-mob-type fashion show took place in Cafe en Seine. Sisters Sandra and Audrey Lynn from Co Louth were recovering after a day spent wallpaper shopping for their Dundalk restaurant and they thought the show was “fabulous”.

They didn’t know the festival was taking place, but, Audrey said, “we saw a show on Henry St earlier on too”, but didn’t stop.

When asked if the events they saw would encourage them to shop, the sisters were unsure – but it was a moot point: “We shopped our way over from Henry Street to here anyway,” said Sandra.

On the other side of the bar, Aksana Longva from Lithuania was having a drink when the show took place. She thought it was “interesting”, but “it was a bit staged”.

Longva “heard somewhere” that the festival was taking place, but she “had no plans” to attend any other events as part of the festival.

“It was nice,” she concluded, “because it was unexpected”.