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Dublin à la Mode

The success of shops like Costume and Dolls has given young Irish designers the confidence to produce more original and impressive work. One of Costume's most popular designers, Helen James, graduated from National College of Art and Design in textile design in 1992. She went straight to New York, where she worked for Donna Karan, among others. She returned to Ireland in 2002 and developed her line of unique, hand-printed textile accessories. Many people say there is a delicate Japanese feel to her work.

Footwear has long been an area overlooked by Irish designers, but Irishwoman Eileen Shields has been living and working in New York since 1988; for almost 10 years she designed footwear for Donna Karan. Her own premiere collection is all about clean, bold lines. Materials include antique kid, fine suede, python, and soft patent leather. Textures are often strongly contrasting, while colors are sensual and sophisticated. You can get the shoes online at www.eileenshields.com.

The Tucker family has been a key player in Irish fashion since the 1960s, and new-generation Leigh Tucker has quickly established herself as one of Dublin's classiest young designers. Fine tailoring is her trademark—the finish on her eveningwear is nonpareil—and beaded French lace and draped jersey are her favorite materials. Her line can be found in boutiques across Ireland and at Costume in Dublin, and she's now making wedding dresses as well.

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