LIFE­STYLES

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY COLIN PRICE FASH­ION EDITED BY CON­STANCE HAR­RIS

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - FASHION -

Hang­ing out in Elaine Cur­tis’s de­signer store in Car­low re­minded me of the tagline from US sit­com Cheers — “where ev­ery­one knows your name”. Woman af­ter woman walked in Elaine’s door and was greeted by name.

For Car­low na­tive Elaine, liv­ing in her community is hugely im­por­tant to her. From a young age, in the late Nineties and into the early Noughties, she was a suc­cess­ful knitwear de­signer, based in Dublin. But she gave it up to re­turn home and cre­ate her bou­tique in­stead.

Be­cause she knew her peo­ple, Elaine knew they were ready and able for high-qual­ity, dis­cern­ing, de­signer cloth­ing with a unique sig­na­ture. She was right: her busi­ness is now 11 years old.

“I am not that store where women come in look­ing for that dress-and­coat look that peo­ple seem to favour so much now,” Elaine told me. “If I do a coat that has a dress to match it, it will be some­thing ex­tremely unique, such as the Manoush knit coat with se­quins, which is un­usual and quirky and works on its own.”

Elaine’s de­sign back­ground gives her the con­fi­dence to buy orig­i­nal and in­di­vid­ual-look­ing clothes, while her ex­pe­ri­ence cre­at­ing knitwear ranges for women means she has an acute un­der­stand­ing that fash­ion’s role is to make women feel good about them­selves.

So while you might find un­usual pieces in her store, they will never be un­wear­able. Clothes for life and liv­ing is what she is about.

“Women strug­gle so much with self-im­age and self-es­teem that it is es­sen­tial that clothes lift our spir­its. But, too of­ten, it is the other way around — women can try on a look and feel worse about them­selves. Which is why I buy with peo­ple’s body shapes in mind, and I al­ways buy up to size 16 and 18 when I can get it within a range and think it will work for that size woman,” she says.

As I go through her rails, the other thing that strikes me — apart from the fab­u­lous colour and unique prints that abound — is the gor­geous qual­ity of fab­rics in all the clothes I am touch­ing. “Be­ing a knitwear de­signer has made me ob­ses­sive about qual­ity,” Elaine ex­plains. “I am about women, mainly aged 40 up, who love to ex­press them­selves through their clothes.”

She does this via Phi­los­o­phy di Al­berta Ferretti; So­nia by So­nia Rykiel; Morine Comte Marant; Diane von Fursten­berg; Manoush; By Ma­lene Birger; Rut­zou; Just in Case; Veronica Mon­cho Lobo; MiH jeans; Elec­tronic Sheep knit­ted ac­ces­sories; and lo­cal tal­ent — the jew­ellery de­signer Blaithin En­nis.

Car­low, I am hugely en­vi­ous of your style.

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