Store to meet 40 Irish designers after loss of big-name labels


Brown Thomas shows desire to recruit Irish talent as line-up of elegant daywear takes centre stage, writes DEIRDRE McQUILLAN,Fashion Editor

AFTER THE loss of two of its most successful Irish brands, Quin & Donnelly and Paul Costelloe, Brown Thomas announced yesterday that it would be meeting 40 Irish designers next week to source new talent.

Quin Donnelly are in a legal dispute over their trademark with their Donegal manufacturers, Sonole, while Costelloe has shelved production of his autumn/winter collection to concentrate on the lower volume, higher end of the market, a move he and his family hope to finance themselves.

Brown Thomas signalled its desire to recruit fresh Irish talent as it showcased its autumn/winter collections from top international designers.

Glamorous practicality could have been the theme of the presentation yesterday, whose strength, despite the coy absence of prices, lay in the daywear: handsome coats and chic dresses with occasional retro references were accessorised with block-toed stilettos or ankle boots. Bags were less glitzy than before and hair in tight chignons emphasised a restrained modern elegance.

The line-up from 20 of the store’s top global labels opened with Stella McCartney and Dries Van Noten and closed with Victoria Beckham and Tom Ford with some menswear interspersed.

Though McCartney, Balenciaga and Dolce & Gabbana featured the new sloping shoulder, the best coats, many in tweed, were more formally tailored. Notable were those from Miu Miu with Peter Pan collars; military styles from McQueen with epaulettes and brass details; double-breasted navy coats from Carven; and knife-pleated skirting on a stunning number from Beckham.

Other coats were sleeveless or in bright colours such as tangerine, carmine and rust. Red Valentino’s curvy black coat with net underskirt was an upscale take on modern streetwear. Prices ranged from €495 upwards.

There were some terrific dresses, such as one in black from Vionnet that was inset with cream accordion pleats and anchored with an art-deco buckle.

A shift in emerald silk from McCartney caught the eye, as did a swinging red babydoll-style dress from Balenciaga and more workman-like wrapped jersey numbers from Donna Karan. Elsewhere, trouser suits from US celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe featured 1970s-style flares, though her ponchos and coats were cumbersome and top-heavy.

Contrast showed in the mix of soft with severe: Celine’s boyish tweeds and chunky knits seemed aimed at a different customer to that of Dolce & Gabbana, whose flirty dresses mixed leopard and star prints together.