Friday, 7 September 2012

Some thoughts on this year's DFF

The Dublin Festival of Fashion is now in its third year and truthfully I wasn't terribly excited about this year's event. I attended the media launch for the first two years but last year really hacked me off because of the Penneys (Primark for those outside of Ireland) catwalk show. I thought it was so depressing and really lacked integrity to showcase Penneys when there are plenty of other interesting things happening in fashion in the city.

Even though I skipped the launch this year I've been pleasantly surprised so far by the media coverage the festival has given to Irish designers. I hope that this indicates a possible shift in focus for the festival, as I believe that its strengths lie in drawing attention to local talent as opposed to promoting international high-street retailers who can be found in most European cities.

One Irish designer who has been highlighted is Honor Fitzsimons, who launched her Monster Knit collection last night in Project 51 (I talked a bit about Project 51 in my previous post). I think the colours look delicious and I bet it feels super nice too:

Honor Fitzsimons Monster Knit Collection

Atelier 27 on Drury Street (above Om Diva) is home to a few local designers including De Loup and Capulet & Montague who also enjoyed some well deserved publicity thanks to DFF:

Capulet & Montague necklace
I hope the publications currently featuring these budding designers will continue to seek out new talent after the festival is over.
Fringed dress by De Loup

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Project 51 Bad Girl T-Shirt

Last Winter I attended a great talk by Ruth Griffin titled “The Lost Fashion History of South William Street” which was held by Re-dress. By focusing on what was once the hub of Dublin's rag trade Ruth managed to paint a picture of not just the businesses once based on the street but of Ireland's once thriving fashion industry.

Ruth's talk focused heavily on Jack Clarke, a designer in the 1950s whose business exported internationally and once occupied two Georgian buildings on South William Street. A question was raised at the end of the talk, somebody asked if South William Street was likely to ever become a center for fashion production again. I was amused by their optimism. I guess the whole event left me feeling pretty positive about Dublin's fashion history but pretty negative about its future.

However I was pleasantly surprised the other night when I arrived at Project 51 on South William Street for the first time (which I'm a little embarrassed about as it's been there for a year). Just a few doors away from where Jack Clarke's business once stood, a collective of Irish designers have a workspace and showroom. I was there for the launch of a new t-shirt collection managed by and featuring a design from my friend Dearbhla O'Beirne.

Image by Kristina Collender
Dearbhla's design is an awesome screen-printed mugshot of a 1960s bad girl with big hair and eyeliner who, according to the t-shirt which I'm trying to read upside-down while I'm wearing it, was arrested for disorderly conduct. The t-shirts are ethically made from organic, fair trade cotton.

Potential customers should be aware that Project 51 is a luxury boutique and adjust their expectations accordingly. High-street shopping gives us warped ideas about the value of an item of clothing. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't expect that a limited edition, ethically manufactured, designer piece is going to be the same price as a mass-produced garment from the high-street.

It's really encouraging to see a collaboration like Project 51 emerge on South William Street and I wish the designers every success.