A sea­son for fun and fab­u­lous­ness

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - FASHION UPDATE -

The Brown Thomas ISPCC Fash­ion Show was mem­o­rable for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, writes Con­stance Har­ris

WHEN Caro­line O’sul­li­van of the ISPCC first took her place on the in­tim­i­dat­ing Brown Thomas ISPCC Fash­ion Show catwalk stage in front of 360 of Ire­land’s truly most stylish, wealthy women, she proved she knew how to get at­ten­tion for what she cares about; Ir­ish chil­dren and their lives to­day.

“Child­line re­sponds to 1,000 calls ev­ery sin­gle day,” Caro­line firstly in­formed us, which in it­self was a shock.

“Last year 77 sec­ondary school stu­dents took their own lives, of these, 66 were boys and 11 were girls. The youngest boy was just 12 years old.

“Peo­ple of­ten ask — what brings a child to the point where they feel there is no hope? Where they think that no­body cares? That they think peo­ple would be bet­ter off if they were gone?” Caro­line, who is in­terim CEO of the char­ity, stated.

“This is a ques­tion that can­not be an­swered be­cause each and ev­ery child is dif­fer­ent. But what we can tell you is that Child­line re­ceives calls from these chil­dren who feel hope­less, and where there is no light at the end of the tun­nel. A lot of these calls be­gin with our Child­line vol­un­teers just hear­ing sobs. That can con­tinue for about 10 min­utes un­til they have the courage to speak.

“Child­line’s job is to make sure that these chil­dren’s voices are heard. That talking will make them stronger and that we will al­ways be here. We see them, we hear them and we will sup­port them to get through what­ever dif­fi­cul­ties they are fac­ing.”

That is the truth ev­ery­one wants a child to know: we love you, we want you, we value you.

“They were ex­tra­or­di­nary and sad sto­ries to hear that would break your heart,” said Shelly Cork­ery, Brown Thomas group fash­ion di­rec­tor, to me af­ter the event. “It was so shock­ing to hear the num­bers of young boys tak­ing their own lives. Your heart goes out to them and their fam­i­lies.”

Shelly, like a lot of the women in the room, is the mother of a teenager. In fact, this was a room with a large con­cen­tra­tion of moth­ers in it, many work­ing­women. I saw sev­eral faces whiten with fear. Some, I knew, had been there and sur­vived the worst that we imag­ine life can dole out.

So, though the Brown Thomas ISPCC Fash­ion Show is an ex­cuse for a fab­u­lous day out of fash­ion, it is also a day that many peo­ple gather and celebrate the fact that they and their friends and their moth­ers, whom many are with at this glam­orous event, are alive and able to celebrate the day that is in it and sup­port chil­dren into the bar­gain. To date, this Brown Thomas spon­sored event of 17 years has raised over €1.1m for ISPCC ser­vices. That is €1.1m that wouldn’t have been there but for this idea, this store, these women.

This Brown Thomas ISPCC Fash­ion Show was made ex­tra spe­cial by for­mer Bri­tish su­per­model, the gor­geous and funny Erin O’con­nor be­ing MC, and look­ing stun­ning dressed in Peter Pilotto, the bril­liant de­sign duo who also were in at­ten­dance.

Pilotto and Christo­pher de Vos, part­ners in de­sign and in life, had lit­er­ally just flown straight in from Ja­pan from their three­week hol­i­day/re­search trip there and were full of the joys of life, shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences of Ja­pan, to­tally re­laxed and ready to en­joy Ir­ish high so­ci­ety.

“The guys were so nice and charm­ing,” Shelly said. “It was lovely to see de­sign­ers make an ef­fort and come across the water to visit us here in Ire­land, in­stead of the other way around. It makes a nice change.”

Make no mis­take; getting Peter Pilotto to Ire­land was a coup. This is one of the most ex­cit­ing in­de­pen­dent brands in the world to­day. Who knows, in 10 years’ time they might be head­ing up Givenchy or Dior and then we will never, ever get the chance again to buss cheeks and nat­ter about Ja­panese peo­ple’s de­sire to never give of­fence or ap­ply­ing the prin­ci­ples of Zen to cut­ting the stem of a flower.

But back to the show. The show. Oh my GAWD, what a show. So much beau­ti­ful and ex­cit­ing cloth­ing, flown in es­pe­cially from all over the world. We were treated to ex­clu­sive show-pieces by Prada and Dolce & Gab­bana, Saint Lau­rent and Sa­cai. It was a dy­namic and ex­cit­ing pre­sen­ta­tion from the world stage of fash­ion, as well as what we in Ire­land will take for our­selves. “This year, we tested the wa­ters a bit more with more al­ter­na­tive looks and brands,” Shelly told me of Brown Thomas’s buy for au­tumn/win­ter which was re­flected in the catwalk show. “Fash­ion is chang­ing, and it is a lot more fun. Even though it is about power dress­ing, the waist, the shoul­der, look­ing strong and di­rec­tional, with min­i­mal­ism like Ce­line go­ing on — there is def­i­nitely way more fun go­ing on, too. “All the brands are chang­ing their look. Gucci is very much the leader in retro and al­ter­na­tive think­ing and he (Alessan­dro Michele) has caused a 360 in fash­ion for sure. Re­ally it is lead­ing the way. Prada and Miu Miu’s Col­lec­tor look. Ev­ery brand seems to be mix­ing colours, mix­ing tex­tures — tweed mixed with ny­lon, feath­ers and faux fur, short and long, the backs of out­fits be­ing as im­por­tant as the front. There is a tremen­dous en­ergy about. Fash­ion is fun again.”

Fash­ion’s new fun char­ac­ter is at­trib­ut­able to the amount of young de­sign­ers now head­ing up the big houses who know how to work so­cial me­dia and at­tract younger cus­tomers. But older cus­tomers want change, too. Maybe even more so.

Along­side all the fun and con­trast so fun­da­men­tal to this sea­son, it is also markedly wom­anly with lots of beauty for the pro­fes­sional woman in which to dress exquisitely, evoca­tively, el­e­gantly, at work, at play.

Man­nish tai­lor­ing in Chloe and Stella Mccart­ney, a throw­back to Woody Allen’s An­nie Hall, have brought the Great Coat, over­size trousers and sweaters, back into wardrobes.

Then, it is a legs sea­son; mini dresses, thigh-high slits in fast­walk­ing skirts and dresses, to the long/short skirt. Magda Butrym’s bot­tom-hug­ging mini was one of the sex­i­est movers of the show.

“The trapeze is still around,” says Shelly. “St Lau­rent with the slouchy boots for all the girls with good legs, is par­tic­u­larly sexy. Miu Miu… is a strong look. But, so is the midi to full length. It is a sea­son of op­tions.

“I do think some­times we all wish for too much change,” Shelly says, saga­ciously, I feel. “As a cus­tomer you want some­thing dif­fer­ent, and very much as a fash­ion per­son, you want some­thing new. New ways to buy, new ways to think of fash­ion. But, for sure, fash­ion is about what is im­por­tant again — hav­ing choice and fun.”


All clothes fea­tured are from The In­ter­na­tional Rooms at Brown Thomas Dublin.

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