The luxury Irish design destination that celebrates Irish textiles

Deirdre McQuillan: From socks and scarves to handknits and gloves, Stable have a fresh approach to traditional design

The objects we make describe without words who we are, which is nowhere more evident than in our craft heritage. “Our Irishness is rooted in our cultural heritage, in textiles and craft” assert Sonia Reynolds and Francie Duff, founders of Stable of Ireland, which is now in its eighth successful year and one of the city’s premier destinations for luxury Irish design. When the two friends, who had modelled tweed and knitwear for Cleo in the 1980s, started a pre-Christmas popup boutique beside the Westbury Hotel in Dublin, all they had (besides a shared passion for design and Irish craft) was a collection of scarves – some in linen, others in wool – “but shown with beautiful garden shrubs and branches so it was sparse,” recalls Duff. Now permanent, Stable has grown exponentially from these modest beginnings to include accessories, homeware and clothing all designed and made in Ireland with a reputation for quality and excellence. “It is a celebration of Irish textiles,” says Reynolds.

Bringing their “Stable eye”, fresh approach to traditional design, whether it’s an Aran sweater, a linen shirt or a tweed blanket, their brand is aptly named – strong, secure, reliable – “and everything we make is built to last, working with natural materials as close to us as possible,” they say. Their collective strength lies in their ability to look at familiar aspects of Irish vernacular clothing in sophisticated new ways and reinterpret them with style, artistry and colour. “Different colours work in different lights. Some work really well in the sun while others suit the Irish palette,” says Reynolds. There are many different shades of green, for instance, from socks and scarves to handknits and gloves. That sense of colour, texture and harmony animates everything they generate.

The two travel widely around the country on regular trips to visit weavers, knitters, wood-turners, basket makers and others, with whom “we work tightly”, so their network is close, personal and dynamic. “And we tell their stories because customers want to know where things are from and they return because they trust our vision. It’s not fashion but from accessories to clothing, we offer wardrobe foundations for country or city. It’s very personal but there is functionality to it too,” Reynolds explains. Visitors often leave armed with a lesson in how to tie a scarf in different ways or will have details on a raincoat pointed out to them.

Others not only remark on the pair’s ability to display beautiful things in an alluring way but are also struck by their deep and passionate knowledge of Irish craft history, current makers and the skills of a growing pool of creative talent working in craft on the island. “Everything we do,” says Reynolds, “has a story. Having access to people and having conversations with those who are open to direction and excited about bringing their work into a new realm and new customers is about mutual respect and trust.”


Some of their current items, along with a wealth of tweed blankets and scarves, include an Aran vest trimmed with a crios detail combining two familiar elements of traditional island design in a new way; white linen pyjamas trimmed with grosgrain; waterproof carryalls for the beach; bucket hats; and leather travel bags. A best seller has always been their version of the Irish tricolour, a wraparound scarf in seaweed green, montbretia orange and limestone grey – shades that also reflect the Irish landscape.

New arrivals this season will include a unisex homespun tweed gilet with coloured lining, a utility jacket and a heavyweight linen trouser for winter, all of which Reynolds describes as trans seasonal items with cross generational appeal. For the future, there are plans to expand Stable Home with more blankets, cushions and rugs and, already, new takes on vernacular furniture include their three legged, four legged and high stools in oak, walnut and chestnut designed with the help of architect and furniture designer Arthur Duff (brother of Francie) and Wicklow wood-turner Brian Walsh.

Development is a slow process and every new introduction is tested to assure its performance because, as Reynolds says, “we are the customers”. Their art series, like Patrick Scott’s pub wall print from the late 50s and introduced on linen in 2014, progressed to a hand tufted tapestry a few years later and a Louis le Brocquy print from the late 50s Series 2 Flight on linen is offered framed. Further expansion of prints is also planned. Designer Peter O Brien, who has worked with Duff and Reynolds, says, “Their sense of taste and quality of design is of an international standard. They avoid the tourist cliches. What they do is really beautiful.”

Art Direction: Carmel Imelda Walsh; Photographer: Guglielmo Profeti; Stylist: Elle Britt; Models: Nina Pereiro @Supa Model Management, Teresa Lui @NotAnotherINTL; Forager: Valentina Barcelona Corte; HMU: Simona Parrella

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author