When Bloomingdale’s 59th Street unveils its renovated designer floor early next year, 17 designers never carried before will be part of the presentation.
On Tuesday, Irish designer Alison Conneely got a head start, with Bloomingdale’s staging a trunk show with models wearing 20 styles and a luncheon to welcome the designer and the “capsule” collection she’s prepared for the store.
“This is my launch in America,” Conneely told WWD on Tuesday, as she stood in the 300-square-foot space set up on the fourth floor of Bloomingdale’s to showcase her “Makers Myth” capsule edited from her winter line and inspired by her visit to the Skelligs Islands, located off the Irish coast and known for its ancient monastery and puffins. “The pieces are classic yet contemporary and rooted in tradition,” said the Dublin-based Conneely. “We use ancient weavers on the West Coast of Ireland and a textile mill in the Alps in northern Italy.”
Tweeds and knitwear are iconic to Irish design, though some Irish designers, like Conneely, take a contemporary point of view with a nod to the Irish heritage. The issue with Irish fashion designers is that their stories are largely untold, but Bloomingdale’s decided to tell at least Conneely’s story. She’s been designing under her own label since 2015 after working as a creative director and stylist for 10 years.
“Alison is our first Irish designer in ready-to-wear and it’s exclusive to us,” said Frank Doroff, vice chairman of Bloomingdale’s and general merchandise manager of rtw, who discovered Conneely at the WearingIrish fair held in March at the Bank of Ireland in Manhattan to promote Irish designers. “We were immediately impressed by Alison’s blend of artistry and craftsmanship when we first met her. Bloomingdale’s is always searching for new designers and unique offerings for our customer.” Bloomingdale’s decades ago did stage a promotion showcasing Irish products.
“What we love is the timeless nature of her designs,” added Sharon Wax, Bloomingdale’s senior vice president of designer and concessions. “She has a great, chic look. It’s modern and the clothes work for a lot of different occasions.” Wax also cited Conneely’s attention to details, with interesting line work and seaming, and her wide appeal to women of most ages, starting in their mid-20s.
During Conneely’s appearance at Bloomingdale’s Tuesday, 30 women perused through Conneely’s offerings, ranging from wool crepe trousers with wrap fronts, priced $595 to shearling evening capelets, priced $2,560. She also showed an embellished knit mohair sweater and skirt set, tweed coats and suede leggings, among other styles.
Meanwhile, Bloomingdale’s new designer floor, expected to be complete around late January or early February next year, will be bolstered with trunk shows, luncheons, special events, and of course, labels new to the store. It’s a culmination of the ongoing renewal of the flagship involving most of the floor space from footwear to home to denim and rtw.