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All Irelands fashion preview with Feisonista

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The All Ireland Irish Dance Championships are like the Fashion Week of the step dance scene, at least that’s how Feisonista blogger Bridget Nyland sees it.

“For some reason, the All Irelands are particularly fun” when it comes to fashion, Nyland said during a phone chat earlier this week. “You have a combination of some [dancers] showing up in Uggs, and then you have teachers dressed to the nines.”

And she’s just referencing the off-stage apparel. On stage, dancers put their best, glitziest, perfectly pointed feet forward. So, what exactly can we expect to see being warn by top-of-the-podium placers? Here’s what the Feisonista herself has to say:

“I think bold colors are going to be huge -- really vibrant colors,” Nyland said. “Gavin [Doherty of Eire Designs] posted some photos [of recent dresses] on Facebook, and he’s using those bold, popping colors. Primary colors.”



She has her eye on a few other designers, too, who she believes are pushing the boundaries of feis fashions, especially Diore Dress Designs (Shauna Shiels) and Celtic Star.

She’s anticipating more one-color dresses, too, and hopes there will be a surge of royal blue, a personal favorite color choice that flatters just about any skin tone or hair color.

When it comes to dress style, “asymmetrical isn’t going anywhere soon.” In fact, she predicts, that off-kilter look will be a lot more intense. There’s also evidence that traditional Celtic knots will come back in a big -- literally! -- way. Some of the Irish dance world’s most influential designers are placing magnified knots dominantly across bodices in a way we’ve never seen before.

“I like the dresses with big patterns all over them,” she said. “It’s wearable art, with the knotwork all over the dress.”


Soft skirts are undeniably the “it” skirt to have, especially for the more mature dancers. On the little girls, Nyland adores petals and dainty feathers. Looking to the real-world fashion trends, she imagines lace will be a popular textural addition to newer dresses.

And expect sequins -- “tons and tons of sequins,” she warned. “In terms of bling, I don’t know where else it can go at this point.”

Nyland’s anxious to follow a few newer trends to see if they develop further at AI and to the local feis scene. In particular, she wonders if the faux ballet shrug look will catch on. She’s also watching to see if more dancers will wear white laces in their ghillies, which she’s seen on a few occasions.

When it comes to hair, there’s a slow but undeniable move toward more natural looks. At recent major competitions, Nyland's watched hair go from crazy mounds of curls to modest bun wigs and even side ponytails. At this point, she’s confident the big curly wigs will reign supreme, but more natural and varied hairdos will creep their way onto the podium in time.

So enough about the girls, what about the beloved boys of Irish dance?

“Military,” Nyland said in an insistent voice. “The jacket trend is really sharp -- in a nice red or sharp yellow.” She referenced the handsome military attire donned at the recent royal wedding for a little macho, yet refined, inspiration.


“A dark vest with the asymmetrical knotwork with a dark color, maybe a deep blue, deep green,” she suggested.

When it comes down to it, Irish dance styles are often inspired by everyday fashion trends and couture designs. Sure, we love a full bun wig and bedazzled shoe buckles, but much of the dance scene's fashion influence comes courtesy of real-world styles. For a sneak preview of Irish dance styles in years to come, look to pieces that strut the Fashion Week runways.

For more Irish dance fashion coverage, visit the Feisonista blog, and follow @Feisonista. While you're at it, keep up with fun Irish dance and pop culture news by following @RincePop on Twitter, too.

Bookmark this page and check back here on Irish Central's Irish dance page for timely updates and news from Dublin starting Saturday, February 11th!

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