Ten Irish designers set the standard high at the inaugural Ireland Fashion Showcase hosted by the Consulate General of Ireland on September 10, opening night of New York Fashion week 2016.
Womenswear, knitwear, jewelry, leather artisans, millinery and bridal wear from the Emerald Isle took over the catwalk, showcasing some of the best that Ireland has to offer.
Aiming to enhance the profile and reputation of the many emerging talents within the Irish Fashion industry in an international market, the designers showed off eight pieces from their SS16 collections, produced under the watchful eye of fashion stylist, presenter and MC on the evening Marietta Doran and PR, Event and Model Management Consultant Orla Diffily.
The showcase featured designs from Úna Burke (leather artisan), Caroline Matthews (Womenswear), Helen Steele (Womenswear), Lucy Nagle (Knitwear), Fee G (Womenswear), Jennifer Rothwell (Womenswear), Chupi (Jewellery), Carol Kennelly (Millinery), Heidi Higgins (Womenswear), and House of Delphine (Bridal).
Úna Burke opened up the night showcasing her distinct complex leather constructions and her wonderful concept-based accessories collection.
Caroline Matthews also displayed her latest collection on the night, a collection that aims to bring “a busy working women from day to night with the only addition of a clutch bag and some killer heels”.
Artist and designer Helen Steele showed her unique abstract prints that have won her acclaim throughout the Middle East and Europe.
Now in her third season, Lucy Nagle showed her “fun collection” of oversized styles in wool and cashmere. Established in 2013, Nagle stocks her designs in six regional Brown Thomas stores throughout Ireland, the place where you can “wear knitwear all year round”.
Fiona Heaney and her partner Don Gormley head up the independent Irish fashion house Fee G. They specialize in designs that are “fun, flirty and feminine” creating a brand that has a “drive to make better, fresh designs.”
“We don’t want the customer to get bored,” said Heaney.
Although still including her signature hummingbird print in this year’s SS collection, New-York born, Dublin-raised designer Jennifer Rothwell took inspiration for her new range of prints from Irish stained-glass artist Harry Clarke.
For the “woman who wants to stand out from the crowd”, Rothwell’s flagship store has been open in Dublin for a year, stocking designs that are all completely made in Ireland.
A former Topshop designer, Chupi focuses on creating pieces that can become heirlooms.
“Heirlooms are so much more magical,” she said after her collection, including headbands, necklaces and earrings cast from real feathers and leaves, was shown on the opening night of NY fashion week.
Specializing in dramatic headpieces, milliner Carol Kennedy wants to challenge the wearers of her designs to become “stranger, more powerful, and intriguing versions of themselves”.
Starting off as a hobby as she couldn’t find the perfect hat for the races, Kennedy has been in business for five and a half years making “hats that make me smile” she says. “I love bows, flowers.”
Her powerful designs are for those who “want a wear a hat”, designed personally to match your dress and personality.
Six years after opening her flagship store in Co. Laois, Heidi Higgins is going from strength to strength creating “luxurious timeless pieces for modern women”.
“Having a boutique, you are constantly hearing feedback,” Higgins says. “If you don’t sell the current collection, you don’t make the next.”
Her SS 16 collection introduces “elegance with a twist” using a combination of classic shapes and new elements of style.
Ireland-based vintage-inspired bridal designer House of Delphine has been voted Bridal Designer of the Year twice and works with her mother to design silk-only dresses with bohemian heart, even designing her fellow designer Heidi Higgins’ wedding dress.
Featuring low buttoned-up backs and cream laces, House of Delphine works with each bride to create their perfect dress.
Special guests on the evening included; Anne Anderson, the Irish Ambassador to Washington; Kieran McLoughlin President and CEO, The Worldwide Ireland Funds; Maura Kelly, Emmy award winning Media Executive; and RTE’s Washington News Correspondent, Caitriona Perry, as well as top buyers from Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and top fashion bloggers.
Doran and Diffily are planning to bring Irish Fashion Showcases to all New York and European Fashion weeks in order to show the world the wonderful design and fashion talent thriving on Ireland.
You find more info on the designers and future showcases at http://www.irelandfashionshowcase.ie/.