Fashion News: Guest Post – Spotlight on Irish Jewellery Designer Merle O’Grady
Lust-worthy jewellery just found a new home.
Dublin designer Merle O’Grady has moved back to her hometown after 8 years in one of the world’s fashion capitals, London. Fans of the 29 year old will know they’ve long been able to buy her designs direct from her web site or fashionista* favourite My-Wardrobe.com. Her work is edgy and high-impact. Merle’s pieces have varied from the Aztec and Art Deco to the medieval and futuristic. Motifs include dangly, metal spikes as well as dainty crystals sitting atop tough tubular bells. You’ll have noticed her impact ALL over the high street. From Forever 21 to Zara, with Topshop being a particular, ahem, follower of hers.
This move home is news for those in Ireland who sell jewellery to discerning Irish ladies. The likes of BT2 and Arnott’s should take note! They currently don’t stock Merle’s pieces, even though she can count Florence Welch, Cheryl Cole and Leona Lewis as fans.
Jennie and I are colossal nose-bags so we invited ourselves around to Merle’s cute studio off Baggot Street in Dublin 2. Here’s our own 2012 version of Bosco’s Magic Door… Knock knock, open wide, see what’s on the other side!
Merle still makes all her pieces in-house and by-hand with no out-sourcing to the Far East (on ethics grounds, she tells us). Plans are afoot to work with Italian specialists and keep all production in the Eurozone. Now, in her Moxie studio, the designer has a proper bench were she can let loose with the soldering. In London, production involved working at home in her flat. Memorable moments include working with chemicals at the kitchen table as her boyfriend cooked the dinner!
Fans will notice how Merle’s pieces have gotten more ‘dense’ as her collections have progressed. Initially her trade began following the discovery of a bucket of 18th century Chandelier Crystal in Shoreditch, which had been salvaged from a ballroom in Knightsbridge. Since then the Dubliner has worked with Perspex, to most recently shaping futuristic designs with metal and crystals.
Leaning against the work-bench in Moxie studio, is a mood board for Merle’s next collection. Expect Egyptian influences channelled through Theda Bar’s 1917 portrayal of Cleopatra. The 29 year old says she’s mad about the silent movie star.
Merle was selling handbags at Spitalfields before jewellery became her main-stay. She’s even worked alongside hand-bag czar Pauric Sweeney. Eager to know if she might return to the bag route, we’re told she’d love to have a go at clutches. That would allow her to fuse her eye for design with her metal skills.
So why the move home? Well it’s a life-style choice, apparently. The Dub is only too happy to leave the London life behind in favour of a more relaxed pace here. Who knows how her new surroundings may influence her collections? Merle, we’re certainly glad to have you back!
*I can’t do a blog post without wedging this noun in somewhere!
What Will I Wear Today Contributor Aideen Finnegan @aideenfinnegan
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