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Image / Fashion

Create 2019: Showcasing the brightest and best of Irish design

by Edaein OConnell
04th Jul 2019

NO REPRO FEE 02/07/2019 Brown Thomas launches CREATE 2019, the annual showcase that shines a light on Ireland’s most exciting and up-and-coming design talent. Pictured, Maria Traynor wears halter dress €600 by Sara O’Neill, and Teodora Sutra wears cape €790 by Sara O’Neill. This year’s CREATE presents 33 designers across ready-to-wear, jewellery, accessories, millinery, handbags, homewares and food artisans. Now in its 9th year, CREATE is Brown Thomas’ ongoing commitment to nurturing and uncovering Ireland’s brightest new talent. Not only does it offer designers coveted retail space to gain commercial experience in a leading luxury store, the initiative gives emerging designers the unique opportunity to learn invaluable expertise and insight from Brown Thomas and what it takes to develop collections to make it to retail level. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland


Create showcases the best of Irish design each year, here is what we loved…

In the saturated world of modern fashion, supporting homegrown talent has never been more important. From knitwear to millinery, accessories to ready-to-wear – the country is awash with creatives who are pushing boundaries and designing on their own terms.

Create, Brown Thomas’s annual fashion showcase, began in-store yesterday and focuses on up-and-coming Irish talent. Now in its ninth year, it is one of the most exciting nights of the Irish fashion calendar. This year it expanded its focus to include both homewares and artisanal food, but for a self-proclaimed fashion fiend, I only had one thing on my mind.


Located on the first floor, you’ll be welcomed to Create by a striking millinery wall. Us Irish women love a good occasion. Whether it be a wedding, christening, baptism or brunch – we devour any opportunity to dress up. This usually equates to wearing a headpiece, which means the millinery industry in Ireland is booming.

Hats and headpieces can convey a message, which clothes sometimes can’t, so I was delighted to see the focus that Create placed on Irish milliners and their work. Aoife Harrison’s standout black and gold feather creations were a particular highlight. Although extravagant, they had a distinct wearability to them, while Michelle Kearns’ sculptural wire thorn headpieces bedecked with leather and suede roses look like majestic crowns.



The collection of clothes on display is a heady mix of knitwear, prints, investment pieces and fashion-forward creations. More importantly, each brand on display has a sustainable and ethical message within its ethos.

There is a mix of directional and classic items on view. For me, while I admire a directional focus, I want pieces that speak to my age and style, so London-based Irish designer Katie Ann McGuigan was a standout. From the tie-dye hoodie and tracksuit pant to the lilac tulle skirt, her pieces speak to a younger generation and consumers of the Instagram age. Wearable, marketable and at quite a good price point, she’s a designer fully on my radar; her green and yellow printed leather jacket is something I will dream about from here on out.

Four Threads, created by Alanna Clegg, uses ethically sourced fabrics, such as local Irish Linen and handwoven Indian ‘khadi’ cotton. Her pieces are timeless and will never fall out of style. These are beautiful blank canvases, the perfect white shirt and the quintessential black coat – perfect for minimalists, but for maximalists too who want anchor pieces on which to build their look. A highlight was the off-white handwoven silk tunic top.

For strong investment pieces that make a statement, The Dualist was a wonderful discovery. Created by Anna Geary and made from sustainably woven Donegal tweed, these are classic tailored coats that you will buy and never let go of.


The magpie in me instantly gravitated towards jewellery brand Emer Roberts Design. Fine jewellery which looks like art is the point of difference offered by this label. The range features unique pieces in gold and silver tones with a structural edge, but all the while easy to wear.

Taking a chance

What struck me most about Create and its group of designers was the hard work and dedication of each. They each vibrate with love for what they do, and the clothes and accessories are the finished product of that grá.

Fashion design in Ireland can often be a difficult industry to navigate. All of these designers have taken a chance in the hope that they can create something meaningful and do what they dream of. It doesn’t always pay off, but when it does it’s magic. This was never more evident than when I spoke to Cliona O’ Brien creator of nightwear brand Moon+Mellow.

Cliona is a former responsible sourcing manager and used her previous experience with suppliers to create a brand with an ethical message. More extraordinarily, Moon+Mellow was only created nine months ago and to have it showcased in Create 2019 is a testament to itself.

The detail which stood out to me though, was when she told me it was something she had always wanted to do. Something which lurked in the back of her mind and something for which one day she decided to leave her job, start anew and take the chance. Now, it’s beginning to pay off. Moon+Mellow pyjamas are beautiful to look at with prints inspired by Irish myths and feel like absolute luxury.

It is the tenacity of designers like Cliona that is at the heart and soul of the industry. All in all, Create 2019 is a very strong indication of the wealth of talent we have on our shores at this moment.

And long may it last.

Read more: Net-a-Porter has launched a new sustainability platform

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Read more: The fashion insider who marches to the beat of her own drum


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