THERE’s a current waiting list in Brown Thomas for a €575 Gucci Loafer, along with other accessories by Chloe and Saint Laurent.
To the uninitiated, the black loafer could be any other, but to those in the know it’s the shoe of the season, and one that Cork women want to get their hands (and feet) on.
Mullingar woman Karen Galligan took on the role as manager of the high end department store in recent months and says she’s really impressed with the diversity of style in Cork and the appetite here for new trends.
“Women here know what they want and are always looking for new and exciting labels and trends to try. While there is a real appreciation for classic, beautifully made understated pieces like a tailored jacket or perfect fit jeans, there is also a big appetite for dressier, fun pieces for events or nights out. Cork women make a big effort both in fashion and in beauty.”
Karen studied study International Marketing with French and Spanish before starting to work part time in Brown Thomas and then rapidly moving up the ladder.
“I progressed into management, working initially in BT2 and then in The Designer Rooms in Dublin. I progressed to General Manager of the Galway store when the opportunity arose, which gave me great experience of a new customer and team and after two years there I moved onto my current position in the Cork store.”
Every day is different, she says, with the focus already very much on Christmas.
“We constantly work and think ahead in this business which means there is never a dull moment! Christmas planning is already well underway. The windows will be unveiled in October which means preparations have started to make that happen behind the scenes.”
In the meantime it’s a busy mix of working with the store management team and sales team across all departments.
“I work with the visual team to deliver excellent standards from our front window through to the shop floor, showcasing our product to its best. There is the back of house planning aspect which I enjoy but I can’t be away from the shop floor for too long as that is where all of the activity happens.
“It really is an amazing place to work with hugely creative and talented people. But it is hard work though and relentless in pace. You need to have a fundamental drive to deliver.”
Karen does admit there is a certain pressure to look the part in her job.
“I believe that it is a very important aspect to the job. Also, it’s far too hard to resist all the beautiful new pieces when they come in!”
Her go-to labels are Roland Mouret for a constructed, professional look along with Victoria Beckham’s collection.
“Jimmy Choo shoes are really comfortable for when I wear heels all day and COS basics are so easy to pick up and mix with more key seasonal trends to keep my wardrobe fresh.”
She also includes a really good pair of jeans, usually Paige, and absolutely everything from Isabel Marant. “I love her laidback Parisian aesthetic,” she said.
Her favourite labels are Gucci for shoes, Saint Laurent for accessories, MaxMara for timeless and classic winter coats, and Sisley for luxurious skincare (‘their black rose oil is a skin saviour!’).
“After that, I like to mix across the chic French brands — Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot to build a seasonal wardrobe.”
There’s lots of new labels for autumn including Isabel Marant, Gucci, Red Valentino, B&sh, Hugo Boss, Canada Goose and Mint Velvet, she says.
“We are constantly looking for new and exclusive pieces, we have to continue to lead the way and offer constant newness. This is why it’s really encouraging to see our customers support us in Cork which means we can keep pushing for exciting, exclusive brands.”
And what should we be picking up for the new season?
“Outerwear is always a good investment — a great coat makes a really strong statement and needs to be frequently updated. We have some fantastic new coats coming in for AW17 — Canada Goose do great styles.
“The season ahead sees a focus on the dress again which is great to see. There are some beautiful new styles coming in from Peter Pilotto and Magda Butrym.”