Leopard print midi dresses and sequins swirled beneath glossy goddess hair and golden headbands as the great and the good of Cork gathered for ieStyle Live.
And while hemlines were fashionably modest, inspiration for the night was anything but – aiming to provide an elegant event to encourage professional female networking.
Beautiful long-limbed models gathered backstage, long hair still pinned in crimping clips, as 300 glamourous guests gathered for prosecco and gin cocktails at the sold-out event in Cork's City Hall.
Purple eyes and burgundy lips faded into models' glossy, dewey skin thanks to an ethereal make-up vision dreamed up by internationally renowned make-up artist Christine Lucignano, who worked busily while chatting merrily – and intelligently – backstage.
Her inspiration for the show came from a shoot she did for IE Magazine, the fashion bible published twice yearly by the Irish Examiner which hits newstands this Saturday.
"I like monochrome beauty, when the eye and lip are from the same colour but different textures and tones so everything melts in together,” she said.
But it's not just beauty that motivates the make-up maestro, who speaks warmly of the recent progress in fashion to celebrate a more inclusive and diverse beauty, sparked by Vogue editor Edward Enninful.
She said: "When we were casting this show, I said that we have to have some colour on the runway, not just Brennan's White Bread.
She said that Ireland has been making "slow progress" towards building a more inclusive society.
"Women's rights is the same thing," she said. "Only 10% of CEO's are female,” she said.
"But in fashion, thanks to the gorgeous, brilliant Edward Enninful , things have been changing. He had the neck to stand up and say "this is not working."
In her chair, Dublin model Appiok Tong, admired the make-up as Catherine finished her beautiful rich, glistening Sudanese skin.
"I love it!" She smiled, "it really meshes."
"She's my queen," Ms Lugnano smiled.
Irish Examiner columnist and best-selling author, Louise O'Neill, also praised fashion's belated embrace of all ethnicities from her backstage make-up chair. And she praised the event as an important opportunity for female empowerment.
“There's been a very important energy shift,” Ms O'Neill said.
“There have always been old boys clubs, spaces used for male networking. It's great to see so many professional women here with a space to do the same.
“Sometimes things that are viewed as traditionally feminine, like make-up or fashion, are seen as superficial or shallow. But no one ever says to men that football is shallow. Women are complex and multifaceted.
"You can be the leader in your industry and still like a red lip or cat eye or a pair of shoes. Those two realms don't have to negate each other.”
Top model Li-Ann Smal seemed to embody that message from her nearby mkae-up chair as she discussed moving to Cork to study a Masters in marine biology in UCC, while praising her Maje outfit in the show with her next breath.
MCs for the night, fashion designers and TV presenters Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney, are also both passionate advocates for female empowerment.
Ms Lennon, who joined Ms O'Neill for a fireside chat at the event, previously told the Irish Examiner:
Irish Examiner fashion editor, Annemarie O'Connor, explained her inspiration for the looks backstage: "The show features eight mini stories within one narrative. We wanted to tap into Autumn/Winter trends and have clothes from eight retailers ranging from high street to high end.
“We're really lucky with Autumn/Winter in Ireland. There's a lot of layering this season, overcoats and bright colour. And when it's a bit gloomy out a lovely pop of colour can really celebrate the season.”
Emer O'Mahony, co-founder of Lockdown PR, said:
"Independent boutiques have really been hit by a bit of downturn with the internet. But this event is an antidote to that. What it gives back to the local economy is really fantastic and it is a brilliant platform for fashion and all the creatives the industry employs.
"And the paper has gathered a gorgeous audience here. Corporate women are the people who shop and have a great sense of fashion and style. So everyone benefits from this event. It's really feel-good and positive.”
Waiting backstage, model Aoife Ruttledge said: "I'm excited to be here. The venue is amazing.
"I have four different looks, with a lot of layered pieces. One M&S coat is fab, it's an aviator jacket, black with brown fur. The make up has very autumnal colours, warm tones, burgundy and burnt orange eyes with lots of blush. Even though the eyes are purple it really suits everyone.”