Dirty, Fabulous, Mad Men

Some things are simply written in the stars. Wiggle dresses were always going to turn mens heads, Don Draper was destined to be a (terribly dishy) cad and it was inevitable that the Dirty Fabulous sisters would create the most heavenly of vintage emporiums to bring breathtaking occasion wear from the past number of decades to Dublin, for our dressing pleasure.

It’s the family tree you see. Seamstresses, costumers and tailors make up the creative branches, ensuring the rather delightful fate of these ladies was sealed. With their mother opening a costume store in the 1980s when all around thought she was mad and their Grandfather’s pattern books still in their possession, it’s fair to say they have a more than credible fashion lineage. Their great-aunt had a Thrift Store in Monaghan in 1914 for goodness sake… my, do the women in this family have vision! And what better culmination and celebration of the family’s creative skills than a vintage fashion boutique.

I have been in love with this store since it first opened on Baggot St a couple of years back and lamented their devastating loss when the premises was burnt out and almost all of the unique, handpicked stock destroyed. With those times tougher than ever for shop owners, and the sisters’ hearts surely broken having watched their beloved business turn to ashes, it would have been quite understandable should they have decided to hang up their Mary Janes. Thrillingly for us though, the ladies ancestry won out and the support from customers and industry alike spurred them on to set up shop again. And so it was that Dirty Fabulous’ own Betty Draper and Joan Holloway set about sourcing a new premises that would become home to their beloved business. Now as you walk down Wicklow St toward Grafton and roll your head up to the left, the familiar carnivalesque stripes in the first floor window will catch your eye and the Vintage gems on display will keep you looking.

And so it was with great excitement that I finally got to visit the new premises and take in the surroundings. I was welcomed with infectious energy and shown the latest offerings in the show room. As Betty (aka Kathy) speaks about Vintage I am stunned to concede that there is someone that perhaps loves it more than I! As she implores that we cherish every item, reminds me that we can never get these eras back and warns that the 30s, 40s and 50s are not an unlimited source, I have an urge to run home to wrap my arms around my favorite vintage treasures, promising never to let any harm come. I resist and instead enjoy further delightful chat including tales of the fabulous characters that they have the privilege of meeting on their buying trips to the States. I’m particularly enthralled to hear of the designers that feature on Mad Men that have also been stocked in the store … the excitement!

Next week is the Dirty Fabulous Mad Men Mayhem Event with an unprecedented 20% off everything from Wednesday 6th to Saturday 9th April. This really is extraordinary considering the quality and history of the garments in stock. These beauties are investments that will of course only ever grow in value…  one of the DF’s previous dresses here was worn to JFK’s Inaugral ball – can you imagine?

With this in mind, I viewed the selection of 60s dresses looking for my perfect Joan number. Of course I’m seriously wanting on the curves side of things, making it rather difficult to emulate this siren with any real aplomb but as she is a red-head she has a special place in my heart (so I’ll forever keep on trying!) Below is a photo of the gorgeous brocade-type fabric dress that is so particular to that era which stole my heart during the visit.

Irene O'Brien

Joan would be terribly disappointed by the lack of pout…

Should you visit during the event you’ll have the choice of beautiful Mad Men type dresses, be treated to the show running on loop and might be lucky enough to win a spot prize for your style. Lots of other wonderful surprises also await you and of course the ladies will be on hand to share and advise as always. The Mad Men Mayhem Event precedes a major buying trip for the DF ladies so the store will close for a couple of weeks following it with appointment only for the first week back (and the first day is already booked up!) so be sure to check with them for dates.

Although it’s clear that the store is a huge amount of work, it’s abundantly evident that it is a pure labour of love. You simply will them continued success, hoping we can all visit for many years to come and perhaps bring our own little ladies along one day to find treasures from …. well… it will depend on the TV hit of that moment I presume. No doubt the sisters will still be there, dressed to the nines with even more tales to capture their visitor’s attention. ‘Oh darling, this number was a gift from Barack to Michelle during their visit to Ireland back in 2011…’

Dirty Fabulous, 21 Wicklow St, Dublin 2