Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Re-Imagining the Seventies

Pastiche is a scary word to art/design/fashion/architecture historian and designer alike. It's a concept that may be somewhat alien to many. I mean, when we were re-appropriating the nineties, it was as simple as donning our flannels and chokers - or was it?

Subconsciously, we change re-emerging trends of yore the moment they become comfortable in our wardrobes once more. Otherwise, they read as a costume. They go from fashion-forward to farcical. We change styles to suit our lives - which are not the lives of the past. Or maybe we weren't even born yet when the clothes were first worn, so they don't mean the same things. The point is, it is not the past, so everything we touch is tinged by present or intended future. To try and ape this lost mind-space, experience and feelings is to do everyone a disservice. It stagnates possible growth or change or development. It treats us as fools. Because we, as humans, are not objective creatures and cannot report a full version of the past. Things mirror and embody the time and place that produces them. They are a physical history. And so, they must not be made in false accounts of history.

The seventies we see on runways and ad campaigns is not the of the past but of 2014-2015. It is ours to make relevant again. It is an entire decade to pick and choose from. And political and cultural associations of the past attached to garments can also be re-examined and made germane once more.

One could very well design a completely personalised version of the period that resonates with someone who did no see it the first time around.

But how is our seventies new, fresh?

It is pared back, for one. We seem better at preventing (for the most part) repeats of the sartorial mistakes of the past - if not others. Bows and lace appear but maybe in lesser quantities or on a smaller scale or one at a time. Hair is a sleeker, healthier version of its former self - though teased into similar styles. Make-up is less heavy-handed. There seems like an overall increased sense of intent, planning, coherent styling. And then there's that wonderful thing about hindsight - the ability to pick and choose, avoid or embrace. Prints or fabrics of the past can be revived via contemporary silhouettes. Utterly dodgy trends can be wilfully forgotten.

Saint Laurent SS15 presents us with one vision - of slinky rock and roll sex-pots in teeny shiny dresses or breath-taking babes in androgynous tailoring. Sleek hair and combining multiple points of reference avoided presenting a cast of Studio 54 rejects. Miu Miu showed something a little more proper - pattern clashing homeliness and fur-collared coats with boxy handbags. Fresh materials and contemporary styling (think barely-there bandeaux with high-waisted skirts, tamed by long over-coats) gave old silhouettes and concepts new life. And Valentino gave us something of lost innocence in colour-blocked pretty pastels, sweet crochets and flowing, high-necked gowns worthy of prom scenes in teen movies set in the seventies.

Punk seems absent thus far in this reborn vision of the decade but who knows what the future might hold? It's not a period I'm normally drawn to but I'm enamoured with how it's been interpreted this time around. Which just goes to show that it's been made relevant to me and my life - exactly what I've been saying any trend needs to do if it is to endure.

(1&2- Saint Laurent, 3&4 - Miu Miu, 5-7 - Valentino. Images via

Monday, 29 December 2014


This year has been a momentous one for me and this blog. In a single year, it has grown hugely in reader numbers, regard and opportunities. I've been sent away on a trip for it, been able to run more competitions than ever before, met amazing people and learned an inestimable amount.

I've started being invited to events and launches and now work on a regular basis with PR companies. I got the opportunity to go review the Lusty Beg spa and hotel in the North. I met and interviewed Kitty Moss, my favourite Irish illustrator, hung out with Natalie Coleman in her studio, had tea with Helen James in the recently opened Considered Café. I met and photographed the lovely Sarah and Josie and learned about lolita fashion. Friends were also made in the Irish blogger community. I got to indulge my love for Cleo on a deeper level and was invited to the first ever Dublin Institute of Design show. There were four press mentions of the blog in National media this year. Plenty of stuff got sent to me to review. Cool (I hope) outfits were worn. And I was shortlisted for Best Fashion blog in the Irish Blog Awards once more. Oh, and I made my blog aim for the year happen - I was at the Alexander Wang x H&M launch.

These things make me feel giddy, impossibly lucky and incredibly thankful. Thankful to you, the readers, and to any brands or designers or companies that value my hard work and the quality I try to ensure over insane numbers of followers. To anyone who reads this blog on a regular, semi-regular or intermittent basis - I sincerely thank you. You have no idea what it means to me. And, hopefully, with your help we can continue to grow together. To any first time readers, welcome and do pop back anytime! To those who've given me their time or who I've met through the blog - I'm so glad I got the opportunity to do so!

Everything I'm so proud of is pretty minor league stuff and I'm not getting ahead of myself here but I'm still happy with my wee achievements all the same. Let's hope it's only up and out from here!

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How was your 2014?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Spring 2015 Looks

At the start of the AW season, I did a wee post where I put together some examples of the types of looks I was feeling for the season. I liked how that turned out so I thought I'd do another for Spring 2015 - especially as for most of Spring around my neck of the woods (Ireland) there's a lot of awkward in-between season dressing where the weather is still frightfully cold and miserable. Partly inspired by actual trends, partly inspired by my life and infused with my own twist on things - there's a touch of Saint Laurent SS15 and seventies vibes, there's an outfit inspired by how my mother used to dress me as a kid and another all-white number that comes from my love for Danielle Romeril SS15 and what Cos showed in their preview for next season.

Spring 2015 Looks

What will you be wearing this season?

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Make-up Essentials

Travelling light, existing light is kind of a thing I've aimed for of late. I hate dragging bags around - though this happens more often than not. On Christmas Eve, as I headed home with plenty of presents in tow, I realised I had very little room for anything else...even if Daddy eventually ended up picking me up.

When you're packing light, you have to prioritise. My whole make-up bag couldn't come home so here's what did make the cut. Here's what I consider necessities.

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The essentials are:

Lulu Guinness make-up bag (similar here)

Agree? Any favourites among mine?

(As per, an asterisk indicates an item has been gifted to me for review but all preferences and views here are my own)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Bonus Gift Guide: For those who left it until now...

So, it's the night before Christmas Eve and you've left it until now, haven't you? The terror has taken over and you've no idea what to do. Put down the scratch cards and boxes of chocolates. I repeat - put them down.

Never fear! Colette is here.

I know I proclaimed a recent gift guide the last of the year but this is the emergency guide. Someone, somewhere pressed a panic button and I came running to see what was wrong. Let's look at some scenarios.

SCENARIO: You've bought absolutely nothing.

SOLUTION: Places like Dunnes, TK/TJ Maxx, Lidl, Tesco etc.

Some of these places are better than others but if you haven't bought a thing, a store with multiple departments under one roof is your saving grace. One trip, all of your gifts. These types of stores suit various price points and offer a location to buy gifts suitable for all sorts of people and age groups. Dunnes, for example, has beautiful homewares, clothes, accessories, toys and food.


SCENARIO: You've put it off because you don't have a lot of money and you have no idea what you'll be able to afford.


Jars are your friend. "How so?" you might ask. They offer the opportunity to make several different kind of highly personalised DIY gifts that show how much you know and care about a person - without spending a lot of money. Here are some options:

1. Buy some medium sized jars, some paint, ribbon and tealights. Paint a nice pattern on the outside - snow or stars or something equally festive. Now pop a tealight inside and tie a ribbon around the top. You can also paint a message or the year on the bottom. This would be a nice gift for relatives or friends and shows you put the effort in.

2. Buy a larger jar and fill it with a person's favourite sweets and, again, present with some nice ribbon. Bonus points: try track down sweets they can't get readily or have admitted to loving as kids but not having eaten in years. Showing you listen to someone can be more impressive than the fanciest gift!

3. Buy a medium jar, glitter and laminate a nice photo. Firmly attach the photo to the inside base of the jar upside down, add water leaving a little room at the top, pour in some glitter, tightly close the jar and present with the lid facing downwards. You've now made a personalised snowglobe just for them! Bonus points: pick a really cute photo of you with the person - it's like an even sweeter version of you giving them a framed photo.

4. Buy a large jar and the ingredients to a person's favourite cakes or cookies. Bake the cookies/cakes and place inside the jar, decorating it with some nice ribbon etc.


SCENARIO: You don't know someone very well/they're just difficult to buy for.

SOLUTION: Unless they're someone very close to you (or odd), scented candles may be your solution!

It's always nice to get something luxurious as a gift that you probably wouldn't spend your own money on. It might not have the sentiment of some of the other suggestions in this post but it's a safe bet for many people. I mean, who doesn't like nice smells and pretty candle light?


SCENARIO: You have only practical/boring gifts bought for a parent/close friend/significant other and want to give them something else more heartfelt as well.

SOLUTION: A photo album.

We rarely print our photos anymore and it's always nice to have the physical ones about the house but who has time to get them developed these days? Therefore, not only are you doing something they probably wish they made time for, you also have the opportunity to show someone how much the matter to you and how they have shaped your life. Try to include cinema or travel ticket stubs, short paragraphs or memories and other bits and pieces as well as the photos in order to really tug on their heartstrings.


SCENARIO: You're super-stumped, don't want to face the shops and have no time left to order anything online.

SOLUTION: Get on Ticketmaster or a similar site and check out the gigs, plays, shows etc coming up in the next few months. A band they like is gonna play soon? Buy a ticket online, print it out, pop it in a card and hey presto! You're not only showing knowledge of things they like, you're giving them your time and setting a moment aside just for you guys. Super-sweet.

Hope this helped! Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

2014 // Music

It took a surprisingly long time to wade through the songs that not only provided that soundtrack to my year but also came out this year. I tend to find it hard to keep with music of my time and gravitate towards romanticised notions of the past. While there's nothing wrong with appreciating what has come before, I don't want to be a person so stuck in the past that they miss the present.

This playlist of twenty tracks has a lot of the things I've felt and thought this year infused into it. It's a playlist of growth and change, of realisation of how lucky I am - for the love of those around me me, for the comforts I take for granted, the opportunities many never will have and for the potential yet realised and possibly unlimited.

There's also a lot of women in this playlist, as well as some undiluted, unapologetic pop. It shows the growth of someone in their understanding of their personal relationship to feminism and their realisation that liking what you like is something to be celebrated. The song you dance to might not be the song that makes you realise that everything will eventually be okay - but that's fine. Everything has it's place in this world. I'm old enough to embrace even the less cool parts of me. Which, ironically, I think are pretty damn cool in their own way. Being an obscure music-loving automaton has to become monotonous. And music should be anything but. And the ladies? They're my ongoing mission to put more female creators in my life. In art history, they're often willfully forgotten. In many other contemporary fields they're often given less serious consideration. And in the music that marked the beginning of my aural love affair, they were rarely visibly present. After years of listening almost exclusively to men's voices, I wanted to even the playing field.

Lykke Li and Sharon Van Etten managed to break and reform my heart this year while S made me smile through painful teenaged injuries still present deep down. Keaton Henson and Asgeir soothed me with the pure beauty of their music. Meg Myers and Yasmine Hamdan made me blush. Florrie, Marina, Iggy and Ariana made me dance. Perfume Genius made me full-on weep. The artists on here have all affected my life in one way or another and I think that's all an artist can really hope for, that in such an over-saturated world, you make someone pause and listen.

2014 was a beautiful year in many, many ways - let's hope for an even more moving 2015.

Hope you all had a safe and mostly happy year! What jams got to you?

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Perhaps I'm odd but I often wonder what my life would be like if were a boy. Don't get me wrong, I'm very much glad that I'm female but being so aware of, and passionate about, gender issues, I can't help but wonder at how different things might be? How different I might be? Or not? How I might look? How I might dress?

Yes, dress is one of the main differences I consider as it is so important to me as a woman and I'm so conscious of the difference in expectations of men and women. Of the different limitations. Of the difference in access.

I think in most ways, I'd be very much the same person that I am now. I think this would be true, too, of how I dress. I mean, I don't wear dresses or skirts that often as it is. The colour palette I gravitate towards isn't particularly representative of traditional colours associated with any gender. I'm really all about comfort, ease, clean lines, pleasing textures and good fit.

So, I decided to put together outfits that I would rock if I were a boy...and realised they're basically what I wear now. I still love a lot of black and navy. There's a preference for solid colours over patterns, a love of knitwear and a good leather jacket. Pants like jammies are good as are brands like Cos, Saint Laurent, Acne, Zara. I'm still craving New Balances and the perfect weekend bag. Still the same Colette - although, according to my Mam, I would have been called Jamie.

This is how Jamie would have dressed.

Also, no way could I afford to dress the way I'd like to as a dude. Those clothes be expensive!

Boy I

Boy II


Boy IV

Boy V

What do you reckon? Would I have been a chic-ass man?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Considered by Helen James

After writing about the revitalisation of Dunnes Stores in recent years, I got asked to come in and meet one of their designers, Helen James...which I promptly (and over-enthusiastically) said yes to. Luckily for me, this coordinated with the recent opening (just last Friday) of the new café attached to, and showcasing, her collection of homeware and food and we sat down with some great tea for a chat in the wonderful space on Drury Street.

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Upon entry, I squeed in delight for a while as I took in the décor which echoes the core values of the collection as Helen describes it, "traditional but really modern - clean lines, simplicity" imbued with "the idea of nostalgia but seen through a modern lens". It's wonderfully cosy and masterfully combines a workable café space with room for the artful arrangement of the products that started the whole venture in October. The walls are stripped back of their plaster, revealing the red brick underneath and the fireplace they discovered while renovating. The tables are made of heavy solid woods and the colour scheme is beautifully calming and harmonious. Scented candles burn on the display tables next to fresh fruit scones. Copper pans glint on the shelf and mugs with cheeky messages sit next to them. It's a wonderful celebration of traditional Irish design in homes without being twee, while remaining cool and contemporary. "I lived in New York for twelve years and there's nothing like being away from home to make you look at things differently and appreciate things. I always think that's why John Rocha was such an interesting Irish designer because he came here from Hong Kong and he could really see Irish craft and appreciate it in a way that maybe someone closer to it couldn't."

Helen also notes how important it was to make the range very Irish and to work towards our strengths "There are a lot of Irish elements in the range. Like, all of the food was made in Ireland. And we're working with amazing producers. I mean, the food scene here is so good, it's just insane." We agreed, in fact, that Dublin and Ireland, in general seem entirely revitalised with exciting food and design scenes emerging. But the consumer has been made wary by the tougher times of the past few years and expects more for their money. "Independents are moving in and bringing a different perspective. And I think retailers have to work harder for your dollar now and it's made things much more interesting." In the case of Dunnes "it's like, how do they move forward? How do they stay relevant in a swamped market?" Their take on designer collaborations seems very much the answer. Especially as "all of the brands fit together but they're all very different, they have different personalities."

Value was just as important to Helen as good design and quality "for me, working with Dunnes meant creating something of really good quality but offered at a price point that was really accessible. That was really important to me, I'm very much of the Eames' philosophy of design for the masses...I love the idea that even producing something in a large retailer, you can do something really interesting. Y'know, this range was a new concept, it was the first time that Dunnes brought food and textiles together...Which was really exciting."

The full realisation of bringing food and design together can be seen in the café and Helen's hand is in everything, down to the design of the display shelves and the menu. The attention to detail, the care, is apparent. With Gruel alum in the kitchen and wonderfully friendly (at the exact right level - not too much or too little) staff front of house as well as Helen's continued presence, it gives a boutique touch to something mass-produced. Though, the food in the Drury Street location is anything but mass-produced. Cookies had just come out of the oven as I walked through the door and coffees are served with truly artful designs on top via their talented barista. And, actually only 15 out of 150 stores nationwide will carry the range for now so as to "keep it in stores where people are going to get it for now" and to protect the brand.

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Perhaps what most endears both the range and cafe to any and all who see them is the sense of sincerity. It seems very natural and beautifully put together but homely. Helen was given the freedom to do as she wished with the brand and, as a result, it truly represents her as a designer. In fact, "when [she] showed pictures of this place to [her] kids, two of them said 'Oh, it looks just like our house!'" And Helen laughs, "when I brought samples home for a photoshoot with Image Interiors, everything just fit perfectly into my house and I was like, 'Oh, I jut want to keep all of them, I love them so much. I just want them to be here all the time.' So, yeah, it is very much my aesthetic. That was the thing, too I was given complete creative freedom to do what I wanted."

Helen remains excited by the unlimited potential of this new venture of Dunnes' as it gives her the space to try things she never could before. "I had my own label here for eight years and it was so difficult to be competitive because costs are so high. And that's why it's nice to have an economy of scale behind me where I could do something and I knew it was immediately going to go into fifteen stores...that was really exciting for me as a designer because it opened up a whole set of other possibilities."

As to what next? The brand will continue to try new things and move forward; "it won't be a wiping of the slate, it'll evolve. So, it won't be 'this season it's blue chintz', it'll be much more organic than that. For example, in Spring, we have a whole range of tableware that's going to be the same as the ceramic storage jars we have now...more shapes, a few more colours...We're doing some gardening stuff. We're bringing in more textiles, a little bit more pattern - not a huge amount." In addition, they'll have a range of teas, apple juices and lemonades, herb rubs and new flavours in the existing range of chutneys, sweets and preserves.

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So, drop into Drury Street for an absolute treat if you get a chance and keep an eye online and in stores for the future (surely) successful expansion and progress of the brand. Oh, and I highly recommend the apple and mint's amazing.