Any fashion gal worth her salt owns (or at least wants – hint, hint) a Joanne Hynes neckpiece. Yes, the clothes are beautifully cut, fashion forward and just edgy enough to be loved by London trendies (but not too scary for us somewhat less adventurous Dubs), but it’s the accessories that have always stood out, picked up by super luxe stores around the globe and featured in the coolest of cool fashion publications. We caught up with the queen of the collar, as she launches a new (lower-priced) line of neckpieces, bringing joy to clavicles far and wide.
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m getting ready to show the Autumn collection during Paris Fashion Week, but I suppose the main thing that’s happening with the label is that we’re launching a special line of accessories with BT2. They’re at a lower price point, so, are more accessible – though, actually, it’s the same customer buying both this and the Limited Edition collection in Brown Thomas, just for different reasons. The BT2 line is a light, fun purchase, whereas the pieces we have in Brown Thomas are investment pieces, really. Though the new line has been received just as well by the industry – Vogue Italia shot some today, which is very exciting.
You’re certainly known for your accessories, is this the way the label is moving?
Well, I’ve been doing accessories since 2003, but now they’re really taking off and I’m exporting to lots of stockists around the world. What I’m doing now is experimental and pretty unique – I suppose, because I’m not a jewellery designer. I approach my accessories the way a clothes designer works. There isn’t really anyone else doing my collars, for example, and that’s what buyers are looking for, especially in Asia and the Middle East, where the luxury concept store is king. And I’m delighted they’re in BT2 now … I think the Irish are ready.
Do you prefer making accessories?
With accessories, you’re not dealing with fit and a body, so in a way you can be more creative and I enjoy that. But, for me, clothing will always be the first point of reference in a collection. I see it as a narrative of getting dressed. Accessories are designed to go with clothing, or vice versa, but I suppose lately, the accessories have been allowed to breath on their own and are developing an identity separate from the clothes. And because of how popular the accessories have been internationally, and really championed by people like Mario Testino and Lucinda Chambers, I get more excited about them.
Tell me about spring 2012 collection?
This collection has been one of the closest to my heart. I worked very hard on it … and there’s so much detail to it. I purposely wanted to use a lot of leather for spring, because you shouldn’t, even matching a leather shirt and leather skirt and just really taking the textures as far as I could, with sequins and appliqué and popping neon colours. And this has obviously translated to the accessories … sequined and studded collars, leather-covered wooden bunnies, robots and dolls, right up to the very heavily-embellished collars and bibs.
It’s being praised for nailing the current feeling in fashion – do you consider trends?
It’s more organic than that. I’m less and less interested in fashion as inspiration. I don’t look at the shows and magazines, because I don’t think I could create if I was too immersed in it. I’d get stuck. It’s my job to make trends not follow them, so I prefer to look outside.
You’ve been involved in fashion education – what draws you to that?
I’ve lectured in Delhi, in the National Institute of Fashion Technology, as well as Limerick and NCAD. It’s always been something I’ve been interested in – mainly, because I learn a lot doing it. Lecturing in Delhi, my students all wanted to be European, which I just couldn’t understand considering the cultural wealth they have there. It’s all about ownership of culture and aesthetic and that’s what I’ve been trying to get the students to think about … and what designers, in general, need to get a handle on.
I think this is a big issue for Ireland, and why we haven’t built a stronger industry here…
Of course, Dublin is not London, and never will be – how many fashion hubs can there be? Most London-based designers are not British, but are embraced there – creative people gravitate towards it … just like Paris, or New York, or Milan – fashion-wise, these cities are where it happens. It doesn’t mean that we can’t grow an industry here, too. Though, it is more difficult for Irish designers, based in Ireland, to be successful on the same level. So, I suppose it would be great to see young designers being supported here the way they are in Britain. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about Ireland and being Irish. We do have a strong aesthetic, that has almost been borrowed by American designers, like Ralph Lauren with his knitwear, so in a way we’ve been bypassed. Other cultures have celebrated Irishness more than we have, but we’re coming around. There’s good energy here.
Words: Kate O’Dowd