The best of Ir­ish

Pho­tog­ra­phy ALEX HUTCHIN­SON by Styling by COURT­NEY SMITH Fash­ion edited by CON­STANCE HAR­RIS

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - CONTENT -

Some­times peo­ple say to me that high fash­ion — mean­ing de­signer wear and the in­ter­na­tional cat­walks — is just about pres­tige and money. While there is an el­e­ment of that, it is, of course, not that sim­ple.

For most women who love de­signer fash­ion, it is not about the money it costs, nor even the high qual­ity of its make-up, though that is very im­por­tant. What mat­ters to them is the vi­sion of the de­signer be­hind the piece. I feel that the women who favour de­signer fash­ion have a kind of love af­fair go­ing on with a de­signer’s cre­ativ­ity, more than with the knowl­edge that it is an ex­clu­sive, ex­pen­sive, coat, dress or what­ever.

This is some­thing that Mar­ion Cuddy, owner of Mar­ion Cuddy Ir­ish De­sign­ers Em­po­rium, on the top floor of the Pow­er­scourt Town­house Cen­tre in Dublin, can tes­tify to. Even on the day I spent the af­ter­noon talk­ing to her in her store, sev­eral women came in to chat to Mar­ion about their favourite de­signer. It struck me that Mar­ion had made her store a friendly place for women to pop into and par­tic­i­pate in fash­ion.

“What I love most about this busi­ness is the feel­ing of a woman be­ing re­ally happy with some­thing beau­ti­ful that she has bought, and feel­ing more con­fi­dent,” Mar­ion says. “I love when they see them­selves in the mir­ror and re­alise they look gor­geous, all as a re­sult of a beau­ti­ful piece. That is the part of it I love.”

Mar­ion Cuddy Ir­ish De­sign­ers Em­po­rium is ex­clu­sively about Ir­ish de­sign­ers’ work, be they liv­ing in Lon­don — as Tim Ryan, David O’Mal­ley and Derek Lawlor are; to Kerry-based knit­ter, Gertrude Samp­son; Lim­er­ick de­signer, Caro­line Mitchell, and so on.

There is a broad mix of style in the store, which means it can’t be type­cast, and it will al­ways sur­prise you.

There are sev­eral of Ire­land’s won­der­ful cre­atives, such as Richard Malone, Polina Yakob­son, Re­becca Mars­den and the afore­men­tioned David O’Mal­ley and Derek Lawlor. There are gor­geous tailored pieces by Natalie King, Hazel Comyn and Philippa Long. Around the store hang strik­ing hats and head­pieces by Mar­garet O’Con­nor and Re­becca Stevens. The flavour is un­doubt­edly grown-up.

“We are all about Ire­land’s new­est, bright­est and best de­sign­ers,” Mar­ion tells me. “In se­lect­ing de­sign­ers for the store, I make sure they fit our cus­tomer. Things have changed a lot in re­cent years; a lot more peo­ple want cus­tom-made. Won­der­ful de­sign­ers such as Derek Lawlor and David O’Mal­ley will fly back from Lon­don and do spe­cial or­ders. We host evenings with de­sign­ers such as Natalie King, who does beau­ti­ful tai­lor­ing. For me, it is all about the cus­tomer, giv­ing her what she wants.”

What the Mar­ion Cuddy Ir­ish De­sign­ers Em­po­rium cus­tomer wants is unique­ness, to be more in­volved and per­sonal — and to sup­port home-grown tal­ent to de­sign an­other day.

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