I have to hand it to the Irish designers. They have been very proactive in getting their AW22 collections into store super early this month. And to say the demand for occasionwear is big is an understatement — especially among wedding guests. I fully expect to see sell-out collections in weeks.
irst out of the blocks for me was Caroline Kilkenny, who has her Sisters range and also her long-established eponymous collection, where this season she channelled the 1990s and colour. The supermodel was the inspiration, with its very grown-up, event-ready pieces, and Kilkenny has introduced all sorts of impact, from interesting silhouettes to colour. Both are evident in the ‘Nala’ dress in striking purple with gold detail.
The half-caped dress has proved to be a hybrid gem in the fashion world, and Kilkenny’s ‘Catalina’ (€351) comes with a feathered cape trim, available in a lipstick pink, blue and also in black.
A creature of habit, I instantly fell for the blue ‘Evelyn’ dress (€324). This dress, with feathered pocket details, revisits the brand’s famous ‘Dee’ dress, which was a memorable sell-out hit a few years ago. Kilkenny was asked so much about the fit-and-flare ‘Dee’ that this season she decided to tweak it. The fabric in ‘Evelyn’ is similar, the feathers are now the same colour as the dress, and the silhouette is more bodycon, with a flattering slit on the neckline.
I loved the cobalt blue and the black versions, but it would be remiss of me not to point out there is a striking red version that would be a knockout for the festive season. Let no one accuse me of writing about Christmas in the first week of August, but if you have a Yuletide wedding coming up, now is the time to check out this utterly fab dress. carolinekilkenny.com
To say I love an afternoon at the National Gallery on Merrion Square is an understatement, and this week I enjoyed a good mooch around its shop, which has just introduced three Irish accessories brands. They include Kiki Na Art resin jewellery by Irish artist Ciarna Pham.
The Eve Ray Designs earrings in mirrored Perspex and clay cost €70, and the collection, by Maeve Barry, was inspired by Joan Miro’s paintings.
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The Gallery Shop is the first stockist of jewellery and headpieces from super-talented milliner Margaret O’Connor, whose work I have adored for years. O’Connor comes from Boston, north Clare, and has moved her studio to Temple Bar. Her sassy necklaces with the slogans ‘Notions’, ‘Power’, ‘Culchies’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Deadly’ come in two sizes and cost €45 and €55.
I can’t write about this Gallery Shop without mentioning Kueen. The brand was created by Swedish designer Karoline Lenhult in 2014. Inspired by Venice and Italy, designed in Sweden, and produced in England, her big scarves (120cm x 120cm) cost €260, silk kaftans are €400, and the luxurious silk kimonos are €530. shop.nationalgallery.ie
Limerick native Louise Cooney launched her fitnesswear brand, Cloo Active, last November. She refers to it as “the modern uniform”, and you will find it turning up in all sorts of places, but particularly at yoga and Pilates classes.
Cooney has just added a new drop to the range, with four new products, including two Varsity jumpers made from 100pc cotton (€59). Ever practical, she also has a reversible Active T-shirt (€35). And she is poised to launch additional pieces this month, including cycling shorts.
The entrepreneur was proactive during lockdown and took her twin loves of going to the gym and reading and turned them into two personal projects. Cloo Active came first and, this summer, she launched her Open Book podcast, which stemmed from the virtual book club she founded during the pandemic. She has already recorded episodes with Irish writers like Louise O’Neill, Sophie White, Melanie Murphy and Cathy Kelly, and next up are Rosanna Davison and Andrea Mara. clooactive.com
I only went in for a take-away coffee and came out with a dress from Danish brand Part Two. I’m talking about my retail exploits at Avoca, just one of the stores which sparked joy on my staycation.
The ankle-length ‘Clarina’ wrap dress (€99.95) elevates the flat sandal world I currently insist on inhabiting.
I was attracted by its blurred graphic print in cream/tan/brown, and on closer inspection, I discovered that it was made from Lenzing EcoVero, a material extracted from sustainable wood pulp.
Other temptations were an uber-handy chic cream T-shirt (€54.95) and trousers (€79.95) in the same fabric and also the ‘Genta’ stripe knit (€84.95) in cool cotton with the addition of 5pc cashmere.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my retail exploits in west Cork.