ELKS

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

For­mer punk band mem­ber, philoso­pher and pho­tog­ra­pher Lucy Clarke added an­other cre­ative string to her bow sev­eral years ago when she started knit­ting baby clothes. Elks is now a full-time op­er­a­tion em­ploy­ing sev­eral seam­stresses and pro­duc­ing beau­ti­ful hand­crafted chil­drenswear us­ing the finest Ir­ish ma­te­ri­als. Lucy lives in Dublin with her hus­band Si­mon and chil­dren Jo Jo (9) and Hart (6). “The adult col­lec­tion is on the to-do list,” laughs cre­ative di­rec­tor Lucy Clarke in re­sponse to my plea to own the grown-up ver­sions of her beau­ti­ful­ly­tai­lored chil­drenswear pieces: her­ring­bone tweed coats, stylish knits, linen dresses, tweed bon­nets, dap­per dickie bows, all hand­crafted in Ire­land with a play­ful her­itage look that re­flects Ire­land’s rich his­tory and con­nec­tion to crafts­man­ship.

For­mer punk band mem­ber Lucy trav­elled to the last re­main­ing mill in the coun­try to source na­tive Ir­ish fab­rics such as tweed, linen and wool that would be kind to lit­tle ones’ skin. “I was so over­whelmed by the beau­ti­ful ma­te­ri­als and work­man­ship of the mill, it in­spired me to de­sign a range us­ing th­ese re­sources,” ex­plains Lucy, whose foray into fash­ion de­sign started when she was preg­nant with her daugh­ter, Jo Jo.

Up to that point she was busy as a pho­tog­ra­pher. “I started knit­ting while preg­nant and found it very ther­a­peu­tic. I made lit­tle leg­warm­ers and sold them at mar­kets. I couldn’t keep up with de­mand so I went a step fur­ther and de­signed coats with beau­ti­ful Ir­ish tweed from Done­gal and they cap­tured a lot of at­ten­tion.”

The coat is Lucy’s favourite de­sign to date, the peak-shape of the hood a unique char­ac­ter­is­tic that blocks the rain from fall­ing on the face. “My kids have one each and three years on they’re as good as new and are now be­ing passed down to cousins.”

Even Pres­i­dent Hig­gins was en­rap­tured. He passed by the Elks stall at the RDS show­case and spent quite some time star­ing at one of the tweed coats be­fore an­nounc­ing he had one just like it when he was a boy.

Cul­ture plays a huge part in the de­sign aes­thetic; a re­cent trip to the Ja­panese col­lec­tion at the V&A mu­seum in­spired Lucy’s latest col­lec­tion of ki­mono-style bath ac­ces­sories for ba­bies. Oc­ca­sion­ally peo­ple are sur­prised by the price tag (€24€240), but this is what it costs to pay a lo­cal crafts­man to eth­i­cally make gar­ments. Lucy ex­plains. “Each piece takes time, us­ing the finest ma­te­rial and work­man­ship and is unique — that’s the beauty of it.” elks.ie

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