independent.ie- Ogling dreamy fashion pieces online is now routine midweek behaviour and, Lord knows, it has given us plenty of welcome distraction and retail therapy during lockdown.
However, there’s nothing quite like a touch and feel and try-on of your dream dress before you buy.
With this in mind, I’m delighted to report that the new Queens of Vintage label is having a pop-up shop in Arnotts of Henry Street in the capital starting next week.
I wrote about the brand several months ago when I tipped it as one to watch. The label has enjoyed phenomenal success since selling its first dress in August. Last week, its website went into meltdown after Holly Willoughby wore its ‘Marianne’ dress on This Morning.
With Christmas in mind, and a traditional fondness for a little festive red, I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Chrissie NYC’ dress (pictured main) up close in Arnotts. It’s pure 1970s with its statement sleeves, retro ruffles and backless detailing, and offers endless styling options, from party glamazon with heels to cosy festive star, toughened up with biker boots and worn under a giant, cosy cardi.
Upcoming in Arnotts, expect to see the new arrivals to the collection, including the ‘Viv’ dress. Named after Viv Albertine from the band the Slits, this maxi dress comes in two different prints, Rosa and Scarlet (€250). Points of difference include a double tier on the arms, and I think the flattering shearing detail on the body will appeal to many body shapes.
Meanwhile, in another new addition to the Henry Street store, this week Arnotts launched The Circular Room, where customers can turn old designer handbags into currency to spend in store. The venture is a partnership with Paddy Coughlan from the Designer Exchange, which has a popular store on Dublin’s Exchequer Street.
In the new store-within-a-store in Arnotts, you can browse and buy pre-loved designer bags and also book an appointment to meet experts from the Designer Exchange team, on hand to offer valuations on items. They will offer an Arnotts gift card to spend in store in exchange for their pre-loved accessories.
Sister store Brown Thomas did something similar last year as part of The Marvel Room, and this circulating bags endeavour is a part of the retail group’s commitment to driving a sustainable approach to fashion.
Milliner Margaret O’Connor is some mighty woman and you can always rely on the Co Clare designer — whose pieces have been bought by Lady Gaga — for being an original voice and ahead of the curve.
A hair problem caused by bleaching it too much meant Margaret was already wearing and designing some “out there” turbans long before a nationwide problem of shocking roots unfolded during the first lockdown.
When sea swimming took off as a way of de-stressing and being at one with nature, canny Margaret already had a stylish solution as she had turbans made from Lycra, which double as a swimming cap.
However, it is her headbands, part of her Out Out collection — created for a night out with her sister, Sarah Bennett — that turned my head. The crystal-embellished velvet headbands (pictured below in red) are pretty ideal, I think, for our new landscape of dressed-up-at-home merriment this month.
The €95 velvet headbands, which come in eight different colours, have a real ’50s feel. The backstory circles back to two vintage headbands found in a bag of fabrics she was given after buying hat blocks belonging to milliner Peggy Glynn.
Margaret made the two Dior-esque pieces part of her uniform when working at the legendary London haberdashery MacCulloch & Wallis in Soho, and this is where the future milliner learned so much about fabrics, a skill that now really sets her apart in her field.
The two hands, embellished in crystal stones on her new headbands, are a nod to all those moments in lockdown when we threw our hands on our heads in frustration. But Margaret chose to turn a negative into a sparkling positive and capture it forever. In addition to her ‘Notions’ pendants, Margaret’s gifting offer includes wallets in butter-soft leather.
“There are plain ones or ones with ‘M’, which can be for Margaret or Mammy. Turn it upside down and it can be Wonder Woman, or even wicked,” says Margaret, whose colourful studio is located in Summerhill in Ennis.
Never one to rest on her laurels, Irish designer Emma Manley is working with new fabrics and more casual concepts this season. “My customers are ordering differently because they too are living differently,” says Emma, a busy mum with an 18-month-old son, Tadhg, and another baby on the way. “As my life changes, the offer is changing,” adds Emma.
This season, she has scaled back on semi-formal dresses and introduced more relaxed pieces, such as leather tracksuit bottoms (€325), which feature leather at the front and wool with elastane at the back.
She’s famous for her transeasonal leather and Emma’s hardcore fans will be thrilled by the ‘Parker’ tee in cobalt-blue metallic leather (€230), a gem that moves effortlessly from weekday into weekend.