Duchesse-silk dress, €625, Sean Byrne Couture. Hat, €375, Aisling Ahern

Bridal Party & Guests

Couture solution: Simple, elegant, modern, formal

There are women who value themselves and buy couture because they can afford the finest. There are women who recognise that, when it comes to the really big occasions in life, such as the marriage of their child, they want to look their most elegant.

Sean Byrne Couture is all about ladies' special days. As a designer, Sean specialises in mother of the bride/groom, creating simple, strikingly elegant, contemporary, formal looks.

He is also a popular young man with the horse-racing jet-set and the young TD/Four Courts' crowd, for creating sharply fitted dresses and subtle, strikingly shaped, natty black suits and contemporary coats. His aesthetic is extremely simple, yet it strongly signals that the wearer is all-woman.


"I wanted to do the 1940s, but update it. Film always inspires me, especially film noir," Sean explains, when we meet in his salon at 27 Drury Street, Dublin. "For this collection, I particularly looked at Mildred Pierce, with Joan Crawford, and I studied the way the Hollywood studios dressed their stars to go on their public appearances. It was a completely controlled image."

No wonder power or, rather, authority, is the very definite vibe I am getting from Sean Byrne Couture's 2014 summer collection – these are dresses and suits so simple as to nearly be severe; the cut and colour create stunning body shape and impact.

"I am known for being a strong tailor," Sean says, "and I wanted to stay true to what I am, but, at the same time, do something unique."

Though equally good for petite women, Sean has deservedly earned his reputation for being a go-to designer for sizes 14-16. He always has ready-to-wear pieces, but most of his business is made to order. He uses fine fabrics: silk, cashmere and virgin wool.

"I am responding all the time to what women are telling me. Irish weather is unreliable. They like to get to wear a summer outfit into early autumn, so it needs to be climate-aware," he says.

In his salon, Sean's mood boards for this collection feature a cutting from a magazine that says, "In LA, beauty is never enough", accompanied by a beautiful black-and-white photograph of Nancy Astor. Next to it is a striking photograph of the late Farrah Fawcett. All Sean's icons are powerful, yet very feminine women. They aren't women looking for power through being like men.

"People think, because women wore power suits in the 1980s – which was inspired by the 1940s – they wanted to be masculine, but it wasn't that. I think they were playing with the power of their femininity in emphasising their shoulders and waists," Sean explains.

"I design for women because I love women. I love watching women, studying how they hold themselves. I am inspired by women."

All prices on these pages are for  ready-to-wear clothing; prices for  made-to-order items are on application

  All clothing is available exclusively from  Sean Byrne Couture, 2nd floor suite,  27 Drury St, D2, tel: (085) 844-5029,  or see www.seanbyrnecouture.com

The Shoot:

Hat stockist:  Aisling Ahern, 27 Drury St, D2,  tel: (086) 393-1121,  or see www.aislingahern.com  The Galway Hat Shop,  Eyre Square Shopping Centre,  Williamsgate St, Galway, Co Galway,  tel: (091) 561-052, or see www.hatshop.ie

Shoes stockist:  Fitzpatricks Shoes, 76 Grafton St, D2,  tel: (01) 677-2333,  or see www.fitzpatricksshoes.com

Photography: Jonathan Mitchell,  tel: (086) 889-6489, or see  www.facebook.com/jonathan.mitchell.photo

Make-up: by Catherine Sherlock  for Armani Cosmetics, Brown Thomas  Model: Sophie Donaldson at  Assets Model Agency