Fact: Irish women love linen. Fact: Women around the globe love linen. It was fitting that Paul Costelloe called his Spring 2017 collection ‘The Rejuvenation of Linen”. Linen is a staple but there’s no denying that it could use a sprucing up, a reinvention.
Costelloe’s message this season was about “confidence”. He is a self-pronounced dresser of the “confident, modern and exceptionally stylish power woman of today.” One of his opening looks was a well-structured evening gown with a centre-split; there were militaristic coats and great shirting, all fabricating from linens, organzas, brocades and metallic printed cottons. It was a festival of colour and texture. Moreover, they were form-fitting and imbued with 60s sensibility.
To most fashion folk, watching a Paul Costelloe show is a little too safe, too commercial. I agree, but there’s an innate Irishness to his work, a comprehension of how women in his homeland actually dress. Not all people dress like Matty Bovan’s models or Jeremy Scott’s caricatures. Costelloe doesn’t pigeonhole himself to Irish women either; a working woman or a lady of leisure in any local would look good in his clothes.
(The most amusing part of this presentation was hearing traditional Irish music instil the warmth and rowdiness of a wholesome Irish gathering, and watching my fellow attendees’ faces change as the upbeat tunes were blasted overhead).
There was a political undertone to the usage of linen. Who knew? Costelloe continued to support “the special relationship between the UK ad Republic of Ireland.” According to the designer it was a “testament to the creativity that can only be borne from collaboration.” The British fashion industry is important for Irish designers who live and work and present in London. Costelloe has made the relationship synergetic. Dunnes Stores—an Irish retail chain with stores in the UK and Spain also—is the primary retailer of Costelloe’s work. His homeware in particular is a huge seller for them. In London he presents his work biannually, where a bevy of Irish and British celebrities flock to support him.
He’s a fan favourite among the Irish and the British. His brand and legacy are intertwined between the two regions, and will continue to be. The obscured post-Brexit outlook doesn’t seem to have affected Costelloe significantly. “The only way to stay on top is to keep moving, keep looking, keep creating. You can never stop in this industry.”
All images are my own