Emily Kielthy reviews Dublin Fashion Festival and uncovers Irelands cosmopolitan fashion impulse

When thinking of high- fashion, click we often think of Milan, viagra New York, viagra Paris and all of those creative and exciting places where fashion innovation begins. However, every once in a while, it’s important to look for inspiration at home because so many Irish people have succeeded in all areas of design and image.  We only have to look to the careers of those such as Amy Huberman, Orla Kiely and Laura Whitmore to know that the Irish are a fashion force to be reckoned with.

    Between the 5th and 8th of September, Dublin hosted its very own fashion festival – a highly anticipated one at that. Fashion weeks and festivals are about bringing everyone together, near and far. The Irish designers showcased as much as any other nationality, proving that we have a loud, proud and fierce voice in the fashion world.

    The beginning of the festival was marked with a  run-in with The Beauty Bus. This was a simple but incredible idea– an ordinary Dublin Bus pimped out and beautified to become a pampering station, giving free makeovers to anyone who was interested. It was parked outside Stephen’s Green, surrounded by a bustling crowd. On the lower floor were models, talking and prepping in their catwalk outfits, all represented by First Option Modelling Agency. On the upper floor we saw a group of friendly, hardworking LA make-up artists. They were running around and searching the bystanders for suitable fashionistas – who, needless to say, were cheery volunteers. The entire area was filled with an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere. This event was so inclusive that there was zero intimidation. Even when the five foot ten, gorgeous models stepped out into the frenzy, the air remained light. The atmosphere of this Irish event was uncompetitive and fun, even for the more conservative people in the audience.

    As soon as the models made their entrance to the street, Darren Kennedy, TV presenter and fashion blogger, took aside his favourite looks and offered his comments on the styles. This expert advice was met by an extremely interactive, buzzing crowd. The audience was told how to dress up and down, and where to shop for this season’s must-haves. This session gracefully flowed into a runway show, right outside the shopping centre. The runway featured looks from our very own Irish stores such as Kilkenny and Pamela Scott, to far off brands such as Brown Thomas. The bustling street of fashion lovers was the perfect audience, providing an automatic atmosphere. Everyone was spoken for with looks for men and women and each look varying in cost, right down to a fabulous check mini-dress from TKmaxx. This illustrated to all in attendance that  if you know how to shop, you can find the most amazing looks in the most unexpected places. Other shops featured included Penney’s, Arnotts, Ted Baker, Dunnes Stores, Irish Couture, Sisley and so much more.

On top of the extensive amount of labels, the show covered all the key trends for AW13. It was divided into four sections; Women’s Realm – for the classic feminine looks, Square Root – for all the inspiring tartan pieces, Animal House – for the eternal animal print trend and Metallic by Night – for a sneak peek at Autumn nightlife fashion.

    After this event, while strolling up Grafton Street, there was a noticeable amount of people heading into Brown Thomas. While each and every shop was joining in the festivities in their own way, it was hard to know what to expect when walking to the second floor of the store. However, we found that the shop had honoured famous Irish designer Sybil Connolly (1921-1998) with displays of her work, her sketches and information points from her life. It was like being brought into another world. Her captivating story and some examples of her formal, turn-of-the-century dresses were displayed eloquently, truly adding to the tone of the festival. Images of her designs, worn by influential and international people such as Jacqueline Kennedy and the Rockefellers, were hung liberally. This woman incorporated both Irish and international design into her career even after she had become world renowned. It was so beautifully clear that she was the perfect person to remember during the festival.

    The day concluded with a feeling of unity at the Samsung Young Designer Event. This was a competition in which each contest had submitted their own design to be judged for an amazing prize – the opportunity to design the back of a Samsung phone, as well as a whole range of Samsung devices and of course, The Young Designer of the Year Award. The outfits presented were the real-life prototypes of the finalists’ looks. This event crowned the festival with a Fashion Week image, as it was invite-only. Elite designers, publicity workers, models and presenters had their names ticked off a long list. Standing outside with the masses, it felt like everyone was connected by their love of the glamour, the buzz and the fashion. The excitement and cheering extended outwards toward us as we watched Xpose microphones and cameras speed around capturing every moment.

The feeling that concluded the day was one of realisation. There are so many more fashion followers in this city than I thought.  Dublin is no different to London, LA or Madrid. Fashion is part of the city’s nature. It can be seen in the unique Irish ability to make ourselves a part of what we love in such an inclusive way. Its part of what makes us so fashion forward, our endless enthusiasm for all things fun and creative.

Emily Kielthy