Ireland’s top designers rock Fashion Week

Orla Kiely’s Autumn/Winter collection inspired by 60s French film Umbrellas of Cherbourg

By Shelley Marsden

With just a few hours between their shows, three top Irish brought three impressive and unique takes on autumn/winter 2014 season to London Fashion Week at the weekend.

Queen of the retro print Orla Kiely, who has a shop in Covent Garden and counts Kate Middleton as one of her many high-profile clients, brought a 60s-inspired collection to the catwalk, to a soundtrack of heavy downpours and a set full of models in what looked like a city park.

Inspired by the film Umbrellas of Cherbourg starring French actress Catherine Deneuve, her collection was marked by its clear, clean lines and included blue suiting, wool day dresses, print trench coats, cat and dog motifs and – of course – some lovely bags.

Very much about attention to detail, the Dubliner’s Mary Jane-style T-bar patent and punched leather shoes range for Clarks even feature her signature leaf logo on the soles.

Another Fashion Week regular, John Rocha, a Hong Kong that has called Dublin home for the past two decades, showcased a collection that was all about the romance and ruffles.

Rocha’s collection was all about the romance

Finding inspiration in the dusk dark light of Icelandic skies and revisiting his love of the work of Pierre Soulages, John Rocha Autumn Winter 14 is an exploration of romanticism. Throughout the collection surfaces were worked in wonderful techniques: hand crochets, appliquéd velvet winter florals and scattered cutwork leaves.

Decadent materials such as velvets, chiffons and silks abounded on circular around the neck ruffs worn assymetric down the body, the key colours blacks, dusky greys and forest greens. There were plenty of low-key creations, but Rocha’s show-stepping outfit was his final dress, made up of a network of oval medallions of black patent crocheted together.

Less of an old hand at Fashion Week but no less one of its stars was Magharafelt-born designer JW Anderson, who at 28 has fast become one of the hot tickets.  Anderson won the Emerging Talent Award – Ready-to-Wear at the British Fashion Awards 2012 and at the next year’s awards bagged the New Establishment Award.

Described by the young Irish designer as “things that can be borrowed from a man to a woman and from a woman to a man” this was his first collection since LVMH, the company behind Louis Vuitton and Dior, bought a stake in his company last year.

The theme was the opposite of his SS14 collection. Rather than pretty and poetic, we got technically perfect, with sculpted sleeves, bias cut seams and wide long skirts.

One to watch is 24 year old NCAD fashion graduate Michael Power from Gorey, Co Wexford, who jointly won this year’s award for best collection at Central St Martins MA fashion show as part of London Fashion Week.

Power’s womenswear collection used glass beads intertwined between layers of tulle, inspired by a combination of Hopi katchuri dolls with their colourful patterning and the “jugaloos”, a subculture fan base of a hip-hop group.

The rising star hopes to remain in London and find work – more healthy competition for JW Anderson and the like.


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