When model Roz Purcell asked ex-footballer-turned-designer Pat Morley to create ‘that’ blue suit for the VIP awards, it was the beginning of a fashion sensation, writes Liz Dunphy.
TOP MODEL meets pro-footballer? So far, so predictable you might say. However the fashion-forward collaboration on a clothing label between Roz Purcell and Pat Morley is anything but.
Celeb land has been buzzing these last few weeks with tempting leaks to social media of beautiful people in well-cut suits and drip-feeds of news about a new clothing line taking its first tentative steps into existence.
A pop-up event, held at House of Fraser in Dundrum Shopping Centre in April, offered first public access to a suit line called Scribe by Roz.
The designs were so well received that the last few weeks have seen the venture snowball into a full, ready-to-wear label launch in House of Fraser scheduled for this July.
And if celebrity endorsement can sell your product then Scribe By Roz will be a big commercial hit.
The line has already seen a number of celebrities enthusiastically wriggling into its well-sewn seams these last few weeks, including model Theodora Sutra, athletic’s hero Sonia O’Sullivan, and TV presenter Sinead Kennedy.
Vogue Williams, Lisa Madden, Vivienne Connolly and Sarah Morrissey have also worn the line — even before it was fully formed.
Purcell also chose a purple blazer dress from her new label to wear to the VIP Style awards in late April which stylist Courtney Smith warmly praised. Any girl worth her fashionable salt will know that a sartorial endorsement from Smith is worth at least one or two official VIP awards.
The collaboration all began with a blue suit: “I wanted a suit and I met Pat through a mutual friend. Pat tailored my blue suit for me for the VIP Awards last year and that’s how it all began,” says Roz.
Purcell in that suit was one of the most memorable, and most photographed fashion moments of 2014, and it generated so much interest that the duo were inspired to collaborate on a suit line. Purcell felt that a line of quality, tailored suits that did not cost a pay packet or two should be offered to Irish women.
“It was something missing from the market. Men have various choices when it comes to suits and tailoring and I felt women needed the same options. A suit is a good investment and something that you have for life.
“I wanted a really well tailored, good quality suit, which was not available on the high street and the designer suits were out of my price-range. Scribe by Roz aims to fill that gap.
“That blue suit I wore to the VIP awards last year is my favourite piece from the collection. Even though it is a bright bold colour it’s a colour for every season,” says Purcell.
And Roz’s exotic beauty puts her in an ideal position to sell her sartorial wares. Words like ethereal can be thrown about with over-generous zeal when describing aesthetic graces, but the word really does reflect Roz Purcell’s otherworldly beauty.
The model is a great antidote to that annoying and blatantly untrue assertion that the Irish are generally an unattractive race. And she believes that modelling has given her valuable insights into what it takes to establish a successful clothing label.
“From working in the modelling and fashion industry I realise that everyone is a different size, with slightly different proportions. If you can walk into a shop and buy a suit off the hanger that fits perfectly than you’re very lucky, but for most women that is not the reality.
“Women are often different sizes on top and on bottom, so the beauty of this range is that you can have the best size on both halves tailored to perfectly fit and flatter you,” says Purcell.
“Through modelling I have gained an extensive knowledge of fashion and what is trending and what suits women. I’m always on Instagram checking out popular posts from around the world to see what’s on trend for inspiration,” says Purcell.
And men’s tailoring and unisex dressing has been influencing fashion big time recently. Boxy, masculine cuts, slouchy boyfriend jeans and track-pants have been pushing the bodycon dress and skinny jeans firmly to the back of fashion-forward wardrobes, and unfussy crew necks have dominated necklines.
This fashion mood seems to be feeding into a wider trend towards androgyny and unisex clothing.
Maybe it’s a reflection of the slow melting of gendered aesthetics of the last century; maybe it’s a spin-off of the ’90s vibe that re-influenced fashion in 2014; or maybe it’s a product of the increasing number of designers who trained in menswear that now head major design houses (Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Raf Simons at Dior spring to mind.
The Kooples master his and hers super-cool dressing in razor sharp tailoring and DKNY’s Spring/Summer campaign features fashion’s It Girl, Cara Delevigne wearing a tiny fitted blazer over a white buttoned up shirt, a black tie, trousers that look closely related to tracksuit bottoms, and trainers, she looks comfortable and very hip surrounded by boys with chiselled cheek bones in more formal tailored suits. And Cara is very much the centre of their gang.
But regardless of trends and media frenzy, good tailoring never goes out of style. Purcell is keen to keep the focus on suits in the Scribe by Roz line for now.
“For the moment I am solely concentrating on my suit range as I want to perfect that. In the fashion industry I think it’s important to focus on one thing and ensure you give it all your attention to get the best from it.
“And Pat Morley and I work well together. We both have our strengths and weaknesses so we balance each other. I have good ideas as to what women want and Pat is brilliant at tailoring the perfect suit to suit the clients need.
Purcell’s boyfriend Bressie is a fan of the line too. He was dressed by Scribe of London (the male arm of the Scribe by Roz label) for his appearances on The Voice of Ireland.
“He thinks that the Scribe by Roz concept is great. He was surprised that there wasn’t a service there already for women,” says Purcell.
“In life I think that you should trust yourself enough to make the right decisions and take opportunities,” says Purcell, who has clearly adopted her own advice, growing her healthy lifestyle brand Natural Born Feeder in tandem with her clothes label, which grew organically from her appearance in that blue suit.
And her business partner and former pro-footballer, Pat Morley brings plenty of his own magic to the table. A frequent face on RTÉ as a sports pundit, fashion-fan, business man and now label
owner, Morley wears so many hats that it is a miracle that he fits them all so effortlessly onto his dynamic head.
Morley played soccer professionally for Cork City, Shelbourne, Celtic, Waterford, Limerick, Brighton and in the Australia A league. He was inducted into the FAI Hall of Fame, and was appointed to the greatest League of Ireland team of all time.
“Now people try to separate Pat Morley the soccer player, to what TV3 recently called me, which is Pat Morley the designer, but I’ve always been into clothes,” says Morley.
HE’S SUCH a smooth talker that the ‘gift of the gab’ does not do his charm justice. Most people would not have his easy eloquence — but then Morley is from Cork, boy.
Presently there are eight looks that the duo plan to launch in House of Fraser for this collection, a fully tailored suit is currently priced at €495, and the blazer dress, which can be worn as a dress, or as a blazer or as a coat is priced at €295.
The suits come in a cashmere, wool and Lycra blend, and the blazer dress comes in a fabric sold exclusively to Scribe By Roz by a company who have also manufactured fabric for Rhianna and Lady Gaga.
“We’re trying to bring something new to the table,” says Morley. “Offering a bespoke tailoring service at House of Fraser will ensure that people can get the best fit for their suits, but people can buy the pieces off the peg too at a slightly lower price.
“And the blazer dresses, are really amazing on, only when you see them in person can you fully appreciate the look of the fabric and they’re so versatile.
"Roz and Theo (Theodora Sutra, a fellow model), were trying them on, and they realised how well they work as a coat too, which can make a casual, plain outfit really interesting,” says Morley.
“From last April, when Roz first wore the blue suit, to now has been crazy,” says Morley. “The Scribe brand has really taken off.”
Morley began his Scribe of London brand, originally focusing on menswear. And if the Scribe by Roz line quickly gathered a starry following, Morley’s menswear label has an even longer list of illustrious fans.
The designer has dressed Glen Power, the drummer from the Script, Ga me of Thrones star Liam Cunningham, Kian and Bressie from The Voice, Keith Duffy, the entire Kerry football team including Paul Galvin, athlete Rob Heffernan, boxer Patrick Hyland, golden boy of US athletics Nick Symmonds, Eoin Cadogan, and the list goes on and on.
With such bespoke tailoring now on offer to men and women Ireland’s sartorial future is looking good.
* Photos: Evan Doherty
* Hair: Danielle Garner @ Style Club
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