Fashion forward for Roses as diamond anniversary contest hits a stylish note

All eyes will be on Daithí Ó Sé and the Roses later this evening but last night the Dome in Tralee was packed for the annual fashion show.

The event featured a host of Irish and international designers, showcasing everything from up-cycled creations by emerging fashion talent to couture gowns by designer to the stars Synan O’Mahony.

With the 60th year of the festival in mind, Mr O’Mahony ensured his collection, which closed the show, hinted at the Roses’ diamond anniversary.

“We have a couple of rose-themed pieces done especially for the show and we are closing with a big wedding dress which is a traditional couture show thing to do,” he told the Irish Independent before the show.

“There are some show pieces, I have a pink shot of green organza draped dress, it is semi-see-through with a big rose on the shoulder, just because of the event; I had to do a little bit of camp.

“There are some floral prints as well, some from earlier in the year so we are re-showing them and some that are a new season as well.”

Mr O’Mahony, originally from Limerick, is based in the Design Centre in Dublin.

He was asked to take part by former model and stylist Celia Holman Lee, who has been involved in the show for almost 30 years and produces the annual affair.

“I modelled in it myself, up to what it is today, it really is a fantastic show for Kerry and beyond,” said Ms Holman Lee.

Her models in yesterday’s show were certainly not just pretty faces either.

“They’re all beautiful and gorgeous – we have an All-Ireland camogie player, students, a fashion buyer, ballerina, a music teacher,” said their proud mentor.

Nicola Loughnane was one of those multi-talented models. The business student was busy miles away from the glamour of the catwalk last weekend.

The 21-year-old lined out for Tipperary Intermediate camogie team in their All-Ireland semi-final, only to be edged out of the competition by Galway.

She had certainly put the loss out of her mind as she turned to another of her passions in Kerry last night, helping to showcase some of the best Irish creations.

Among the designers on display was Dubliner Aisling Duffy whose flamboyant collection attempted to answer the question, ‘What is it to be Irish?’

The London-based fashion and accessory maker was inspired by the relationships between identity, environment and personality, using all vegan-friendly textiles.

Her colourful pieces worn by model Maria Duffy featured hand-painted patterns which incorporated symbols of Irish heritage and culture like the Ardagh Chalice and even a cup of tea.

Meanwhile, stylist Alice Halliday, who specialises in sustainable bridal couture, also had her ethical collection in the mix. Her award-winning creations, made at her studio in Skibbereen, Co Cork, have been worn by singer Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine and featured in ‘Vogue’.

TV personality James Patrice was on hand last night to pick the Designer of the Year at the fashion bonanza.

Tonight will see the first half of the 32 Roses take to the stage to be interviewed by host Ó Sé from 8pm on RTÉ One, while the winner will be crowned tomorrow night.

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