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Independent fashion labels are everywhere in Dublin. Photo: Al Higgins
Independent fashion labels are everywhere in Dublin. Photo: Al Higgins

Places

Dublin's fashion scene is on the rise

Dublin might not be a big player on the fashion map, but its creative scene shouldn’t be underestimated. We turned to local style polymath Aisling Farinella for an introduction to the city’s fashion landscape.

Aisling Farinella is, among other things, a fashion stylist, magazine editor, and promoter of all things fashion. Photo: Al HigginsIt would be difficult to find anyone more plugged in to the Dublin fashion scene than Aisling Farinella. The half Irish/half Sicilian multi­tasking creative has been active in the fashion industry for more than a decade. During that time she has witnessed Dublin’s creative evolution, as well as its dramatic economic fluctuations, at close range.

While fashion styling is Farinella’s main calling, she has also been associated with the boutique Circus, which operated between 2007 and 2010. Stocking a hard-to-find edit of labels that included Henrik Vibskov and Marjan Pejoski, it was considered one of the best concept stores of its time. Unfortunately, like many of its fellow independent retailers, Circus was wiped out in the recession. “We still miss Circus,” says Farinella about the venture.

A few years on and things have once again started picking up on the Dublin fashion scene. COS (Collection of Style) arrived in town last year, and there are rumours that American multi-brand retailer Anthropologie is about to extend its reach to Dublin.

The most radical new independent store to surface is Nowhere. Located on Aungier Street in the creative quarter of central Dublin, the shop seeks out progressive young designers, with Matthew Miller, Alan Taylor, Craig Green, and Cmmn Swdn forming just part of the current line-up. “I really hope Nowhere will be a success since it offers something different and will help to reinvigorate Dublin’s shopping terrain,” says Farinella.

Irish style isn’t just about Aran sweaters anymore. Photo: Al Higgins

While it is often possible to identify a city’s ‘uniform’, Dubliners tend to develop their own style. Farinella describes the local dress code as quite individual and diverse, although at the moment many seem to have a penchant for chunky knits and scarves. Tweed, cord, and woollen throws also feature on the sartorial menu – we spotted a wearable blanket designed by Irish indie label The Tweed Project several times during our visit, both on the street and in a number of hip stores. “The look is quite tactile and textured, and people like to wear some color,” observes Farinella.

The men of Dublin, in line with what has become a wider global phenomenon, have started to take an increasing interest in their appearance. “There’s been an obvious shift in the past few years,” says Farinella. “These days men experiment ­with their look almost more than women do, and they’re happy to spend money on new labels. The fact that a store like Nowhere has opened is a reflection of this.”

Scout vintage (middle photo) treasures in the heart of Temple Bar. Photo: Al Higgins

What about Farinella’s own wardrobe identity?  “I like to invest in good pieces from independent high-end and Irish designers. I'll mix them with simple tees and knits and I love a stripey top; it’s an understated look though, which is also true of my own magazine Thread – the shoots are naturally lit and the models wear little or no makeup.”

Aside from her work as a stylist, consultant and magazine editor, Farinella serves as a mentor to the budding Irish designer scene, regularly featuring emerging talent alongside global heavyweights in her Thread shoots. In a bid to promote her home country’s most promising designers, Farinella masterminded the Irish showcase for the upcoming Emerging International Fashion Designer Exhibition, due to be held February 20–24 during London Fashion Week.

J.W. Anderson and Simone Rocha are just two Irish designers who have achieved global stardom. Which ones are likely to follow in their wake? “Danielle Romeril’s relaxed but considered aesthetic has attracted attention internationally. Alan Taylor, meanwhile, works innovatively with tailoring, often crafting his designs from Magee Tweed. Finally, I’m certain that menswear designer Rory Parnell-Mooney will make it big – there is real confidence to his pared down designs and restrained colour palette.”

Text: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

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