As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic approaches on April 15, one Irish fashion designer hopes to add a bit of style to the commemorations.
Joan Ghali of JoanLido Northern Irish Heritage Designs has created a new dress inspired by the architecture and maritime themes of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter Signature Building, which opened on March 31.
The building is the central focus of the city’s Titanic Quarter, a massive regeneration effort on the waterfront property which once served as home to the famous Hartland and Wolff shipyard, which began construction of the ill-fated liner in 1909.
The contemporary-styled cream gown, set to go on display at New York’s Fitzpatrick Hotel, is composed entirely of 100 percent handspun Irish linen, and decorated with Swarovski crystals and hand-made lace. With such incredible detail and a starting asking price of approximately $7,000, the dress serves as the jewel in the crown of Ghali’s fashion line.
A coordinating clutch bag has been made by an Italian handbag designer Patrizia Vitrano, created from the same fabric. In addition to the lavishly-decorated gown, Ghali’s visit to New York will also serve as the launch for her spring/summer Irish linen collection, which includes ladies bespoke dresses, gentlemen’s shirts, hand-crafted gentlemen’s brogues and luxury soft furnishings for the home.
Ghali’s is seen as a leader on the Irish fashion scene, with one of her dresses even worn last year by Miss Ireland, Laura Patterson, who chose the design as her national costume while representing Ireland at Miss World 2011 in South Africa.
Ghali hopes that by making her designs more accessible in the US, she will revive Northern Ireland’s reputation as a leading textile production hub. Employing local artisans, she also aims to further promote Ireland as an exporter of high-quality, hand-crafted materials.
“When you purchase an Irish linen produce, you buy tradition, a piece of heritage,” she said. “You understand where it comes from, the part of Ireland it relates to, who made it, and you treasure it for life.”