Back at the end of August, when I was in Sligo for a short break, the days were long, languid, and warm. Now inky darkness descends at around five o’clock and there is a distinct autumnal chill in the air. I need to rummage through my scarf drawer, before I leave the house, for something to wrap around my neck as a bulwark against the cold.
Category Archives: Fashion
Feeling in need of something to cheer me up I headed to the city centre for a spot of retail therapy. I say of the spending kind because as often as not I am as happy to browse as I am to buy.
Sometimes the shifting sands of language usage leave me at a semantic standstill as does the bewildering array, and seemingly constant stream, of newly minted words, slang terms, and acronyms. However, I know I would have sunk deeper into the quagmire of ignorance, on both these subjects, if I hadn’t started to blog.
I have had, over the years, a dotty as a dalmatian relationships with fashion magazines, veering from over the top indulgence when every month I bought a slew of them to a pared pack approach in recent times which saw me limiting my fashion magazine purchases to a copy of Vogue each month. Except in December when I buy, as a present to myself, a host of magazines which I wrap in festive paper and then open them one at a time to read on each of the post-Christmas days.
This is the second in a series of posts showcasing items that I think would make very acceptable Christmas gifts. The emphasis in the series is on: craft, homemade/handmade items, and independent shops. My hope is that wherever you live in the world that the images might inspire you (if you don’t do so already) to check out locally made beautiful items that are far removed from the madding mass-produced crowd and independent shops that are a world away from the homogenous high street.
Sarah McGahon a graduate of NCAD (that’s the National Collage of Art and Design in Ireland) set up her millinery business McGahon Millinery in 2009. Her route from school days to her present day role as designer of hats /businesswoman was a circuitous and interesting one.
Some clothes, well in truth, few, very few, live on in my memory long after I have consigned them to a charity shop and when they come to mind I wonder what was I thinking in that misguided moment when I placed them in the to-go-pile. One such item was my Inis Meáin Knitwear cardigan with a shawl collar which I bought in London when I lived there (that’s quite a while ago – the late eighties and early nineties), it was warm, cloud-soft and comforting to wear.
Yesterday evening I went to see Irish Designers Create, a celebration of the work of seventeen of the brightest young creatives in the Irish design firmament, which is on at Dublin’s Brown Thomas department store. The celebration started at yesterday’s Fashion Night Out and will run until the 18th September. There I met….
Emma Manley: The charming and gifted Emma has creativity flowing in her veins and indelibly stamped in her DNA (her Mama is a talented designer/artist). Still just in her mid twenties she has packed an enormous amount into her life thus far. She is a fashion graduate who has experience of the industry in both New York and London (in London she worked at the house of Alexander McQueen). In 2010 she set up her own label, Manley. Emma uses a mix of luxury materials (leather, chiffon and wool) to fashion sophisticated, feminine garments which are given a tougher edge by unusual fabric combinations, they are sometimes dotted with studs and always sprinkled with the fairy dust of über coolness. The starting price of a dress from the Manley label is €220. Web address: http://www.emmamanley.com
Anne Mette O’Connor: Question. What do you get when your blend super niceness with creative talent, an extraordinary eye for detail and a phenomenal work ethic. The answer in Mette’s case is a thriving jewellery business called AMOC (from the initials of her full name). The beautiful piece that Mette is wearing (in the photograph above) is made from silver, charcoal diamonds and ribbon, given the amount of diamonds dangling from the wonder necklace I didn’t dare ask the price but in her shop Mette has beautiful hand crafted pieces from around €100 (I did a post on AMOC in May to read it click here). Web address: www.amoc.com
Heidi Higgins: On my way up to see the exhibition I spotted a dress I liked on a display mannequin, I assumed it was by one of the well know designer stocked by Brown Thomas so I stopped to ask the people working on the display about it, only to find myself talking to Heidi Higgins the designer of said dress. She is one of the seventeen designers chosen to take part in the Irish Designers Create celebration. Upstairs, Heidi a graduate of the National College of Art and Design, had a rail laden with simple chic timeless and stylish garments (mainly dresses) with an Audrey Hepburn-esque feel. The pure wool dresses some in bright jewel colours and some in neutrals were priced around the €300/350 mark. Web address: http://www.heidihiggins.com
Laragh McMonagle: My friend H who has a keen eye for all things beautiful told me, via a comment on the blog some months ago about the work of Blackrock based jewellery designer Laragh McMonagle. I didn’t get a chance to go to the exhibition that H recommended so last night was the first time I saw some of the dream like items from Laragh’s treasure trove. Laragh is mainly self-thought and as you can see from the picture above she uses pearls, silver and gemstones in a pretty unique way. Mea culpa I forgot to check out prices. Web address http://www.bylaragh.com
I didn’t get a chance to look properly at all the other designers work so it is good news that the exhibition continues on the third floor of Brown Thomas until 18th September.
It has taken me a couple of decades to formulate a loose set of rules through which I try to filter and regulate my clothes buying habits. I don’t mean to be prescriptive or to offer them as a universal panacea for closets stuffed with inappropriate, unsuitable or unworn clothes; they are just a personal set of guidelines that have helped me avoid mindless random purchases. I am sure you have your own clothes-buying rules; here are mine.
At the beginning of the year I make a list of gaps that need to be filled in my closet, if I am exceedingly honest when writing this list, it is minuscule.
I resist the temptation to buy on impulse. If I feel I am about to utter that oh so dangerous familiar phrase ‘I’ll take it’, I walk away, even if it is just to have a coffee, I find that space for reflection is often enough to dissuade me from purchasing. I can always go back in a few days to have another look if it’s something that has really caught my imagination.
I don’t buy a piece without being able to answer yes to the following questions: does the item suit me, suit my lifestyle and have I got at least three other items that I can pair it with?
The next question is; is it worth it? A very subjective judgment but I bear in mind that a blouse costing €15o could turn out to better value than a dress costing €100 depending on the amount of times it’s worn.
On the subject of an item’s worth, I never buy designer items at full prices, as I feel that they are mostly priced at a level that the market will bear and not at a level closer to their intrinsic worth. Most of my clothes are from the High Street with the odd high-end pieces that I acquired in the sales or at an outlet. .
I don’t buy items that don’t fit me. This may seem obvious but it has taken me more years than I care to remember to stop myself from buying, in the sales, things that would only fit if I lost a bit of weight, or that need to be taken in (taken up is ok) before I can wear them.
I buy mostly neutrals with the odd splash of colour, this may sound unremittingly boring but it least it means I have a selection of separates which I can mix and match.
That’s it but I have to confess that I occasionally bend the rules!