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In Depth, Uncategorized

2011 Dressmaker Styles Update

As I posted in Say Yes to the Irish Dance Dress, doing your research is important in finding that perfect dress. To help in that process, here’s a quick overview of some of the main dressmaker’s current styles, price point and extras. One place to see samples from a wide array of dressmakers current dresses. This is just a selection of some of the most popular dressmakers. Don’t have quite enough time to get all of them! Make sure to visit the dressmakers’ websites for the ordering process, current styles and final price points as things can change very quickly.

Eire Designs (Gavin Doherty) – Belfast

Gavin tends to set the trends in the Irish dance world. He’s famous for making bold statements and being relatively exclusive for the average dancer. For years, you had to get your teacher to talk to him to order a dress. Thankfully, Gavin is now accessible to every dancer with a website, facebook page and stands at most major competitions.

He’s featuring bold designs on both symmetric and asymmetric dresses. The petal skirt that’s in the top right corner of the second picture below is one of the newer skirt styles that he’s been featuring on more and more dresses recently. Gavin makes a wide variety of dresses depending on the dancer’s style. They’re all bold and stand-out dresses, but he is flexible depending on the dancer’s personality.

He’s also been making waistcoats and vests for boys. Here are some his more famous vests from this past year.  He doesn’t shy away from making a statement with the boys either!

His dresses tend to start at 900 pounds and go up from there.

Here’s Gavin’s stand at this year’s North American Nationals. It showcases some of the trends he’s pushing at the moment, most noticeably the half-moon or zipper look. Below are some other of his styles and noteworthy dresses from this year.

Siopa Rince – Dublin

Another major power in the Irish dance fashion world, Siopa features a slightly more elegant and flowy style than Gavin does. Siopa has been around since at least the 1990s so they certainly have the experience to make you look your best in a dance dress. They just recently updated their website with helpful examples of dresses and contract information.

Dresses range from $1500 – $2000+ and usually include rhinestones and bloomers.

Here’s the ad they ran for the 2011 North American Nationals and shows off their most recent styles very well. They have it up on the website here.

Elevation Designs – Belfast

Elevation (Jackie Kennedy) has become another big name in Irish dance dresses since Ashley Smith stepped out in one in 2006. They took the Irish dance world by storm and have been going strong ever since. Elevation traditionally has a more girly, swirly look but recently they have been doing more and more strong geometric designs. They mastered the tennis skirt look and really do excellent work with skirt designs. They have a great website that shows their most recent dresses and really breaks down their different styles.

They’ve also been diving headfirst into the military style for boy’s waistcoats.

For Nationals, they showcased their “laser cut” style. Again, a combination of their traditional swirls and a more geometric approach.

Dresses start at 900 pounds and vary based on size and style. Dresses come with bloomers, a shawl and fabric to make a headband.

Here are some of the ads they’ve run recently (from their twitter account) showcasing their newest and trendiest styles.


Shauna Shiels (Doire Designs) – Derry City

Doire Designs has steadily been rising in popularity and visibility over the past few years. Based out of Northern Ireland, they make very elegant dresses with a lady-like quality. They also just launched a new website featuring dress examples and dancer make overs.

Here’s a selection of dresses from their recent dress special offer that features their newest styles. They just launched their newest skirt style (the white and purple dress below). They’re also known for their mandarin collars and high waisted skirt look ala Nadine Martin’s dress at worlds. They tend to have two main contrasting colors in their dresses with flowing designs.

Dresses start from 800 pounds and vary depending on size and style. They include bloomers, a shawl and a headpiece.

Sue Breen – Luton (North of London)

Sue Breen is a London based dressmaker that has been creating bold and fun dresses for several years now. She has a website, though it isn’t full of pictures. But don’t let that fool you! Sue’s been making some stellar dresses recently.

Sue’s style is best described as a cross between Gavin and Doire – bold, but still flowing. She’s been all about the swirls in recent dresses! Here are a few examples of recent dresses. They’re very much tailored to what the dancer wants so she has a wide range of styles from the more traditional to modern asymmetrics. She’s gotten rave reviews in terms of the dress buying process and customer service!

The dress prices are set by age and usually range from 600-800 pounds. She can stone the dress for you for a little extra or you can do it yourself.

Here are some picture of her recent dresses.

Geraldine Taylor – Belfast

Another extraordinary dressmaker from the fashion hotbed of Irish dance – Belfast! Geraldine has a similar style to Doire in terms of flowing and creative asymmetric dresses. She’s certainly gone headfirst into asymmetric dresses! She’s up with the trends and many of her dresses have applique that extends onto the skirt from the bodice. However, Geraldine’s dresses tend to be a little more bold and chunkier (for lack of a better word!) than Doire’s. Geraldine also features a lot of real-world applique in her designs like flowers or butterflies. She has some really lovely floral designs.

In terms of skirts, she’s currently featuring mainly soft layered skirts in a solid color with rhinestones. She also has been doing the updated wrap skirt look quite a lot.

Dresses generally cost between 700 and 900 pounds depending on shipping and stoning. They usually come with a shawl and kickpants.

Here are some of her current dresses from her website.

Avoca Celtic Designs (Ann Ash) – Manchester, England

Avoca’s latest designs have had a simple aesthetic with relatively little complex embroidery. Ann has a very clean aesthetic, almost a combination of Elevation’s precision with Doire’s flowing style. However, it looks like Avoca’s more recent dresses have been more covered in embroidery. These dresses are very much on the cutting edge of Irish dance fashion. For example, Avoca has been using the cuffed wrist look or fluted wrist look extensively in their recent dresses. Cut out panels over ruffled skirts have also been popping up in recent dresses. Avoca also has been using a wide and modern variety of skirt types showcased on their website. Most of the dresses they make are ruffled or a loose skirt model. However, they do have the option for plisse skirts, paneled skirts and even three panels! Sequin bodices have been popping up as well!

In terms of asymmetry, Avoca has been leaning to a diagonal wrap look primarily, especially complemented with embroidery or knotwork.

Here are some pictures of recent dresses from her facebook and website!

Loretta’s Dresses – England

Loretta’s Dresses are most known because Loretta is Simona Mauriello’s mom! She’s made many of Simona’s gorgeous dresses over the years! These days, Simona now works with her mom and does much of the designing for the dresses. They focus on making stand-out dresses that are lightweight and easy to dance in.

Loretta has a very loose, flowy design to many of her dresses. They definitely have a feminine feel. Many feature unique tailoring and skirt patterns as well. She dove headfirst into the soft skirt trend and came up with some clever and new ways of doing a soft skirt. Simona’s most recent dress is a perfect example.

Her dresses are priced in the 650 to 800 pound range and can include rhinestones for an extra charge.

Here are a collection of their most recent dresses from their website. Check out their facebook too for even more dresses.

Michelle Lewis – Toronto, Canada

Finally for this round, but certainly not least, is Michelle Lewis. She’s a Canadian dressmaker that’s steadily been growing in size and popularity. Michelle tends to feature a celtic embroidery on her dresses, one reason she’s been getting so popular! She also tends to use more applique in her designs. Michelle is very up on the trends and seems to be favoring ruffle type or loose soft skirts and the updated wrap skirt recently. She has also been doing the cuffed wrist effect!

Her dresses are in the $1500 and up range.

Here are some recent dresses from Michelle’s website!

That’s it for the first bunch! I tried to get most of the “big names” in this one, but it can be so hard to define who’s a “big name” these days. I’ll do another round in a bit to get the rest of them.

Who’s your favorite? Anyone ordering dresses from these dressmakers for the Oireachtas? What’s the design like? Which other dressmaker’s work would you like to see for the next round?

Stay Fashionable, Feisers!

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