We went behind the scenes at one of Ireland’s most prestigious fashion shows to see how it is put together
Set high in the sky on the 15th floor of Dublin’s new Exo building, models walked the Brown Thomas SS24 runway with the most perfect backdrop of the Dublin mountains in view. Oversized tailoring in black and white, and dark floral dresses dominated the looks in a more unusual but very sophisticated twist on the usual, brighter tones for summer.
As seamless as a beautiful show like this can look, it takes a village to get it to the runway. With many organising the production element of the day and lead stylist Darren Feeney compiling the perfect outfits, it is also the fashion directors and buyers who truly set the tone for what’s to come in the new season. We sat down with Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery, to find out what’s really involved in curating a new season collection.
“It’s a busy, busy job I’ll tell you that,” she admitted. “I oversee everything that happens in the fashion divisions at Brown Thomas. It’s busy because our world is all about movement, it’s all about travel and it’s all about research as well. We are always trying to find newness. We are looking for new brands at all times and always keeping our eyes wide open for new opportunities and new ideas.”
Connecting with customers
Shelley and her team are very in tune with what the Brown Thomas customer is seeking. “On a daily basis, we would be in touch with the personal shopping team and we would keep a very close connection with the floor. We are very involved in the day-to-day. This gives us a great source of knowledge for when we are buying in terms of sizes, in terms of looks.
“I think the most important thing is to get the balance right for your business. You’ve got to have accessible brands as well as high end brands. You don’t want to be all one thing. It’s lovely to see the high-end brands but it’s also lovely to explore the new contemporary brands. This season we have quite a lot of newness coming in in contemporary such as Christopher Esber. Brands like Cecilie Bahnsen, TOTEME and Acne are more accessible in terms of price.
“We then have the development of the more luxury brands like Celine, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Dior. Every year you really find that there is a very important customer that follows through on these brands. We’re focusing on the development of those brands and developing them at a pace so that you’re not sort of looking at a whole floor of Dior or a whole floor of one thing.”
Curating the perfect floor space
Shelley emphasizes the importance of curating the perfect floor space to appeal to a variety of shoppers.
“Different brands do different things every season. Some of them are very trend-led. Some have that 90’s minimalism, then others such as Richard Quinn, will have that very embellished overtly couture style. But then we have to think about what’s in the middle and I think it’s very important that you address that. It’s important to get the balance right between day wear and evening wear.”
While dresses and occasionwear are the largest category for Brown Thomas, denim is also highly sought after. Investing in a great pair of jeans is something that consumers are always seeking. With some of the top brands on their roster, such as Levis and Good American, it is no surprise that customers are flocking to Brown Thomas for great jeans.
A more considered approach
With a growing emphasis on sustainability and the importance of shopping with a more considered approach, Shelly highlights the way in which investing in well-designed products with strong fabrics is a good way to approach a timeless wardrobe.
“Sustainability is at the core of our business. The most important thing is that we are working with brands that are using great materials. I think that in itself creates a very responsible business. The brands this season have definitely focused on fabrics, materials and the best shapes. It is not as logo driven this season, it’s quieter. The detail and quality in clothing is very important.
“People want to buy well,” she adds. “Consumers are a lot more considered now when they are shopping.”
Logo mania is a thing of the past. Quiet luxury is still very much a strong look for this coming season. Everything feels quite understated and all about the perfect silhouette. Even the shoes were more paired back with kitten heels and many looks in this show were paired with a chunky sandal rather than a sky scraper heel for a more understated yet cool look.
“When you look at The Row and what they are doing this season, it’s all very quiet, yet stunning garments. They have beautiful streamlined duster coats and beautiful bags. The Row bags come in one week to the store and they are already gone by the following week.”
Irish talent is shining
Irish designers are really dominating the fashion sphere at the moment with Simone Rocha curating a couture collection for Jean Paul Gaultier and Michael Stewart’s brand Standing Ground is also being worn by the likes of Florence Pugh on the red carpet.
Shelly is also excited by what these Irish creatives can achieve.
“J.W. for Loewe and J.W. Anderson were both in the show as well as Richard Quinn. It was great to see three collections from two great Irish creatives. We do CREATE every year so we are always exploring who’s next. Sometimes production in Ireland can be a little bit harder, so it takes time to develop. But I think it’s so great to see some of these Irish talents out there on the runway today succeeding at the top of their game.”