Helen Cody pops up in Palais Royal
The latest entrant into the rarefied world of the Palais Royal pop-up is Helen Cody, the Irish couturier.
“It feels like I have turned full circle,” beamed Cody, sitting in her all-white space located between Manolo Blahnik and Didier Ludot, the most famous fashion vintage resource in Europe. A two-week residency lasting until April 30.
Cody’s first Continental steps were an internship as a junior stylist with French Vogue followed by a stint with the legendary Azzedine Alaïa. An impressive debut in the City of Light.
She’s been designing since five, and honed her talents in Ireland’s number one fashion college, the National College of Art and Design. After a decade styling in Paris and New York, Cody founded her own house in Dublin in 2000; going on to dress Celtic Tiger celebrities like Ali Hewson (Bono’s wife) to the 2013 Oscars, and actresses Saoirse Ronan and Amy Huberman, the blonde wife of rugby legend, Brian O’Driscoll.
Entitled 'It Started in Paris', this 30-year archive exhibition stems from the recent digitalization of her archive. Seen in an elegant look-book, documenting Cody’s 2006 couture debut; first bridal collection in 2013; and 2016 runway show in Christchurch Cathedral.
The pop-up is filled with Cody’s faintly funky gentility, blending lace she discovered in market stalls; 1920s fabric flowers or fine ostrich feathers, furnished by the Italian suppliers of Valentino. Cody loves romantic embellishment, where feathers sewn onto grosgrain trim, taking flight on a degradé lace dress.
For more avant-garde moments, her obsession with ribbons and chiffon - woven into lattice like cocktails that unfurl into undulating hems. Made in coal black or turquoise. While her rosso corsa red petal silk dimpled dresses finished with faux blackberries are rather brilliant. Swiss guipure lace dresses are lined in silk organza - a look finished with a hand-made Swarovski crystal brooch. And she recycles a lace bedspread found in a Paris flea market; dyeing it beige and cutting it into an elongated gilet.
“It’s kind of a tasting menu of what I do at home. It’s bespoke couture from size 6 to 26,” smiles Cody, whose home is along Dublin’s charming Grand Canal, over which she walks each morning to her atelier in happening Harold’s Cross.
Elliptical, asymmetrical, quixotic and gently ornamented, Helen Cody’s couture is not for a blushing violet, but all the better for that.
Her personal style is what the French call haute bobo, or haute bourgeois bohemian. Standing before her pop-up in worn denims, stars and stripes sneakers, oversized mannish shirt and green nylon flight jacket, Cody seems very much at home in the Palais Royal.
Surely, the most beautiful apartment building and interior park on the planet, the Palais Royal’s arcade also houses A-lister designer shops like Rick Owens and Stella McCartney. Originally a royal palace, today it even includes the Ministry of Culture and France’s supreme court.
No city is more important in terms of fashion creativity than Paris, and few cities have as many neat spaces as Paris when it comes to pop-ups. And Cody’s is one of the most interesting pop-ups in several seasons.
Not a bad way to celebrate three decades.
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