Irish designers’ global showcase

SET TO run across three top international cities showcasing some of Ireland’s hottest designers, the Arthur Cox Irish Fashion Showcase 2013 kicks off on Sep 12 in London.

Irish designers’ global showcase

This event in the city’s prestigious Gibson Hall, will be followed by an equally flamboyant show in Dublin the following Wednesday (Sep 18) before hitting the catwalk in New York for the grand finale on Oct 30.

Some of Ireland’s most versatile designers will parade their creations before the world’s fashion media during the shows which are being produced by top stylist and broadcaster Cathy O’Connor.

Among the well-known names to feature this year are Pauric Sweeney, Dubarry, Niamh O’Neill, Jen Kelly, Joanne Hynes, Electronic Sheep, Lennon Courtney, Roisin Linnane, Natalie B Coleman, Melissa Curry, Mark T Burke and Polly McGettigan.

A first-time participant, Irish designer Niamh O’Neill jumped at the opportunity to get involved. “This is a fantastic opportunity for top Irish designers to showcase our designs to brand new audiences in Dublin and in key fashion hotspots in London and New York,” she declares.

“The Arthur Cox Irish Fashion Showcase is of particular interest to me, as a number of my designs work well as business attire, and the audiences in attendance are amongst the sharpest dressers in the corporate world.”

The event has helped showcase the talents of some of Ireland’s best designers, says Kathleen Garrett, Partner, Head of the Arthur Cox London Office. “Through our offices in Dublin, London and New York we are growing a platform for Ireland’s supremely talented designers to connect with potential new clientele and hopefully paving the way for business in these markets.”

Electronic Sheep

Born and reared on the same Glasnevin road as Bono, Dublin duo Brenda Aherne and Helen Delany seemed set for success from the start — and so it has proved. Their company Electronic Sheep is now exporting knitwear all over the world.

The label has a large and loyal following — its range of knitted accessories (oversized and signature triangle scarves and complicated, hand drawn jacquards) has been exceptionally popular.

Earlier this year the company introduced a range of limited edition jumpers and hooded cloaks that complement their knitted hats and scarves.

The award-winning pair, who now have showrooms in Dublin, London, Hamburg and Berlin, are avid collectors, accumulating everything from old phones to wooden dolls.

Along with their extensive travels, these funky archives tend to be a good source of inspiration for their creations, reveals Brenda.

The main influence for their Autumn/Winter Typhoon Puppets collection was meteorology, but, she says, parallel to that, a number of other themes developed.

“For example the scarf ‘Open 24 Hours’ depicts a girl eating noodles in the rain. The signage and clothing are both Asian and English; these are the strongest changes we are observing right now — dramatic weather/mixing cultures. Typhoon Puppets refers to how we have little control over the world and therefore are puppets in a storm.”

And there’s always a little surprise for the wearer. “Each scarf has a series of concealed images woven into it. You have to look carefully before you see them and you may have to have the scarf for a while before you find everything.”

Electronic Sheep is steadily building a reputation for its original ‘knitted picture’ accessories and innovative colour combinations. With stockists ranging from shops in Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland to Russia, Hong Kong, Japan, China and New York, its products are regularly featured in the international media.

“They’re very colourful and there’s lots of variety. We spend nearly as much time selecting and perfecting the colours as we do designing the images,” explains Brenda, who is excited about the forthcoming show.

“Arthur Cox is a great opportunity for us to showcase on the professional and international platform.”

Mark T Burke

A happy marriage between his original ambition to become a sculptor and his training in textile design is how Mark T Burke describes his success as Ireland’s latest millinery sensation.

A native of Co Galway, the 26-year-old has been creating headwear from his Loughrea studio for the past three years, and, since January, by appointment from his studio in Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Street.

His creations are regularly spotted at Royal Ascot, Cheltenham, Buckingham Palace and the Galway Races and he claimed the prestigious title of “Accessory Designer of the Year” at the 2010 Irish Fashion Innovation Awards.

From the hat sported by the “Best Dressed Lady” at Punchestown to the headgear of Chanelle McCoy, wife of jockey AP McCoy at the royal wedding of Zara Phillips, Mark T Burke Millinery has become an increasingly well-known name in ladies’ fashion.

As well as housing seasonal collections Mark also caters to individual clients’ needs, altering collections and creating one-off pieces to match outfits and occasions.

In his latest coup, the young milliner, who credits a short work experience placement with designer Philip Treacy as one of the primary influences on his love of millinery, has been chosen, for the second year in a row, to take part in the Arthur Cox Irish Design Showcase 2013.

“It’s a great showcase for my work and it’s a fabulous for networking,” enthuses the designer who plans to display 10 of the most dramatic pieces from his Autumn/Winter collection which was inspired by William Butler Years’ immortal line: ‘Had I the heaven’s embroidered clothes/Enwrought with golden and silver light.’

This is somebody who really loves what he does. “You’re the artist but you’re also the accountant and the deliveryman; I work in the studio and I’m on my own all day but I love making hats.

“My greatest satisfaction comes from somebody being utterly delighted with what I have created — that’s where I get my thrills.”

Melissa Curry

Jewellery, believes Melissa Curry, has to “go somewhere”.

“It has to convey a message,” declares the designer who has spent much of her adult working life in Paris and who earlier this year launched her jewellery in Fred Segal in LA.

As a result of this philosophy, she designs stories into her pieces often, she explains, based around her own life experiences.

After launching her first collection in 1999, Melissa now has two brands; Melissa Curry which she describes as “very vivacious, story-telling, tactile jewellery in which each piece is a statement”, and her new Success range, whose theme is the empowerment of girls and women and is a collection of pieces, the first of which, a sterling silver amulet with an 18-carat pink-gold coating.

“My work is very akin to sculpture,” says Curry, whose sculptural jewellery became the spearhead for London’s Liberty millennium campaign, catapulting her designs onto the shelves of trend-setting fashion boutiques in London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Her inimitable style and creative vision have attracted international brands such as Absolut, Swarovski, Toni & Guy (Natalia Campaign), Phillipe Stark @ Bon, all of whom commissioned her to collaborate on one-off projects..

“I work with a lot of different materials in everything from acrylics to stone and glass — it’s very trendy, very cutting-edge,” she says.

Melissa will be launching her edit collection for@Arnotts on Sep 2 followed by her Amulet #Success collection on Sep 20 (The chosen gift presented to Michelle Obama and her daughters by the Irish State on their visit to Ireland in June). 10% of profits go to Dress for Success.

The entire Success collection will be showcased at the Arthur Cox fashion show, along with four Melissa Curry collections — Coco, Bon-Bon, Ice and Nikia.

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