Belfast FASHIONWEEK HQ on Bruce Street, Belfast, came to life once again for the return of the Local Designers and Boutiques catwalk show. I might be a high-street girl at heart, but this is one show that I always look forward to, since it’s a chance to take a glimpse at our incredible local talent. But who turned my head this season? Take a look at my top five Northern Irish designers to watch out for this season and beyond.
1) Deux Cara
Every one of the local designs showcased this season were fabulous, but Deux Cara were my favourites by miles. Their collection, which was very much suited to the red carpet, was brimming with statement gowns, ballerina skirts and absolute showstoppers; and it was right up my street.
Deux Cara was created by two fashion friends John Gerard O’Neil and Neil Coogan, and proved incredibly popular on the night. Co-designer John-Gerard said: “I’ve played a role in Belfast FASHIONWEEK over the years as a volunteer and stylist but am absolutely thrilled to be on board this season with our first ever collection. Since the FASHIONWEEK launch in January, we have received amazing support and interest, and have been commissioned to design several pieces, all because of our involvement.”
2) Éadach by Sara O’Neill
After satisfying my needs for Hollywood glamour, Sara O’Neill gave me a little taste of my student days with a gorgeous, bohemian collection inspired by our stunning North Coast. Titled ‘Éadach’, her collection of oversized silk scarves, dresses and kimonos were beautifully illustrated, and each told the tale of Irish mythology and the magical North Coast of Ireland, bringing me back to my sunny walks along Portstewart Strand. As for the scarves, I was simply mesmerised by just how creatively they could be fashioned into tops – somehow I don’t think I’d have the skill for this, but maybe we’ll give it a go if I ever save up to get my hands on one!
3) Chloe Dougan Designs
Although this is her second collection at Belfast Fashion Week, this was the first time that I had seen Chloe Dougan’s designs on the catwalk, and they are definitely ones to watch. Bringing an edgy and distinctive side to fashion, Chloe steps away from the trends slightly and stays true to her own style. What should you expect from Chloe Dougan Designs? Sheer fabrics, a touch of leather and some seriously revealing styles. But as for those of us who perhaps prefer not to show too much skin, there are plenty of more modest designs in her collection that are every bit as stunning. I can’t wait to see what she brings next season.
4) Nor Lisa
Since I started attending Belfast FASHIONWEEK two years ago, Nor Lisa has been a catwalk regular and always one of my favourites, but this incredible laser-cut design was a personal favourite of the night. Having spotted it at a fashion event just a couple of weeks previously, I was excited to get a closer look, and it was everything I had hoped. My fashion wish list is growing by the second!
5) L’Or Dome
This brand may not be a ‘Northern Ireland’ design, but the fact that the French designers behind L’Or Dome chose to launch their very first collection and Belfast FASHIONWEEK earns them a spot in my chart. L’Or Dome’s collection ranged from leather jackets and fur to some fabulous sleeveless spring capes, which would make a gorgeous collection to any wardrobe.
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