People talk about the nightmare of modern travel but I’m happy to report that travelling from Dublin to NY is a breeze, with US pre-clearance at Dublin airport, you get through JFK and into your car in approximately ten minutes from landing. We always choose Aer Lingus as our preferred airline for European and transatlantic flights – so lovely to be on first name terms with many of the amazing cabin crew, who always make our trips so enjoyable. I love the new aircraft livery and we can’t wait to reveal our brand new uniform later this year. It’s been 20 years since we designed the current uniform so we were so thrilled to win the new design contract to reflect a modern international airline.
I spent the weekend in leafy Greenwich, Connecticut, staying at the beautiful home of my wonderful friend Annette Lester. Our first stop on Saturday was to our favourite interiors store on Greenwich Avenue called Hoagland’s, a treasure trove of exquisite brands with lots of ideas for glamorous table settings, sumptuous linens and beautiful gifts.
We are in the process of redesigning our clothing room at our flagship store on Merrion Square, to celebrate our 21st anniversary on the Square, so interiors are uppermost on my mind. Stamford, Connecticut is THE place for mid-century furniture – all the upscale Manhattan designers I admire shop there, particularly on Pacific Avenue, where warehouses have vast collections of top-quality mid-century pieces. I was delighted to be accompanied by Annette, who has an exquisite eye. We were looking for – and found – some jewels, including a gorgeous chaise, and a nickel display cabinet, which is now on our mood board, awaiting sign-off.
Mid Century Shopping
In New York, we made The Carlyle our base, as usual. Every day we hosted personal appointments with our clients, from early morning to evening. We love catching up on everyone’s news and exciting plans. It’s always a treat to discuss wardrobe needs for the season ahead, particularly if there is a special event on the horizon. We had a sneak preview of some of the newly refurbished floors at the Carlyle which is currently undergoing a major facelift. Those of you who know me well, know I love Central Park. As the weather was sensational, with a delicious latte in hand from Sant Ambroeus, a pretty Milanese café on Madison Avenue, I had wonderful walks there, watching the dogs of Manhattan … truly a therapeutic start to each day!
On one very special evening, I was a guest speaker at Glucksman Ireland House near Washington Square. Philanthropist and Ireland Funds patron Loretta Brennan Glucksman for whom I have immense admiration and affection invited me to join her, with daughter Kate and granddaughter Caitlin, for a panel question and answer session. Senator George Mitchell was the guest speaker last year, so you can imagine my trepidation at the enormity of the occasion.
(Left to Right) Kate Picco, Kevin Kenny, director of Glucksman Ireland House,
Louise Kennedy, Loretta Brennan Glucksman & Caitlin Cooney.
But of course, Loretta, Kate and Caitlin made it all so natural and easy, as we discussed the global fashion business, entrepreneurship, and designing clothes that look good on women of every age. All three wore Louise Kennedy, Loretta in the dress embellished with green crystals that we designed for her when she was Grand Marshal of the St Patrick’s Day parade last year, Kate in our beaded ‘Marnie’ trousers and Catilin in this season’s ‘Nova’ dress – a perfect example of three generations wearing Louise Kennedy beautifully. It was a pleasure to meet former Irish ambassador to the US Anne Anderson. Afterwards, Loretta hosted a wonderful dinner at Il Cantinori on East 10th Street.
(Left to Right) Louise with Irish Consul General Ciarán Madden,
Chantal O’Sullivan & Helena Christensen at O’Sullivan Antiques
Dublin born Chantal O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Antiques (on East 10th Street and Francis Street in Dublin) co-hosted with Irish art specialist Morgan O’Driscoll, an auction preview of a sale of Irish art, to be held in Dublin at the end of the month. Many of the great Irish masters from the 18th to the 21st century will feature, including Paul Henry, Jack Butler Yeats, Daniel O’Neill, Louis Le Brocquy, William John Leech and Sean Scully. There was a buzzy crowd, including many members of the American Georgian Society. I was delighted to meet the Irish Consul General Ciarán Madden and ex-model photographer Helena Christensen. We met many years ago at the World’s Top Models Show in Dublin in 1996, the brainchild of Ali Hewson and Bono, where we showed with Naomi, Kate, Eva, Yasmin and Christy.
The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick at Hudson Yards
On the West Side, beside the Hudson, is the acclaimed Hudson Yards, the hottest new hood in NY. This is a planned city within a city, with a residential, office, retail and cultural mix, and fabulous places to eat and shop, including a new Neiman Marcus store, a first for NY, I particularly enjoyed my visit to the store, a genuinely exciting space, with a wonderful art collection and a brilliantly edited brand mix. My friend and luxury retail expert Marigay McKee has been a close adviser to the developers and now sits on the board of directors of The Shed, Manhattan’s newest arts centre, a vast hangar of flexible space for the arts, media and dance, a Modernist’s dream. The Hudson Yards development is a monumental feat of engineering. The Shed’s immediate neighbour, Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick, stole my heart, a gleaming bronze honeycomb-like sculpture of 154 staircases and 80 landings with a unique view of the Hudson River.
Neiman Marcus at Hudson Yards
So our NY address book grows with every trip. We explore new eateries, return to firm favourites and most of all relish meeting new clients and building new friendships as we build our niche Irish brand in the US. I find my ‘Piper’ trousers a godsend on busy days. I wear them with the ‘Lily’ knit by day and then swap the sweater for an ‘Emily’ top for the evening. Our ‘Zinnia’ embroidered wrap and a pair of Manolos (in place of my trainers!) are the finishing touches.
The thing we love best about our NY trips? Meeting our clients. Over almost four years, we have met so many new friends. And their pets! Yes, we have a new canine friend, a Chicago pooch called Nashville Tennessee who decided to hang out with us while his owner went about her NY business for the day. Whatever you do, don’t tell Paddy!