The Circus Story: Carousel’s Own Vintage Inspired Range

Seven years ago, Carousel was in trouble. The Irish economy was in collapse, and Carousel, like many small businesses at the time, looked like it might become victim to the recession. A shop providing vintage and vintage inspired women’s clothing in Dublin city centre, Carousel stocked the shop with clothing bought from other brands at trade shows. But this model wasn’t working for Carousel anymore. Buying in stock from other brands was expensive, and at the time, Carousel was losing money. The future was bleak. For the business to continue, owner Tom Walsh had to find a new way of doing business. So he created Carousel’s very own women’s vintage inspired range – Circus.

The Circus Story

Walsh has run Carousel in Dublin for seventeen years, having previous experience buying for Selfridges, London, and then buying vintage for his own business in Camden Market. Having an eye for vintage fashion, Walsh knew what the Carousel customer wanted. Circus aimed to make high quality, but affordable, vintage inspired fashion, for the woman that cared more about expressing personal style, than the latest fast fashion trend. Another important factor was that the clothing be made ethically, unlike the questionable production values of many high street brands. With that in mind, Walsh set about finding a factory where Circus could be produced. After a long time looking and trying out factories around the world, eventually found the right one though a contact in the U.K. That factory was Good Earth India, based in Delhi, India.

Ethical workplace India factoryWalsh believes that in order to deliver the best product possible, it is vital that it is produced in a factory where the employees are treated ethically and with respect. Good Earth is a spacious, modern factory, with very comfortable conditions for all of its employees. It’s work spaces are well lit and air conditioned. The factory adheres strictly to minimum working age and maximum working hours per week. There are policies in place to deal with worker safety, protecting the environment, and sexual harassment in the workplace. The factory is kept up to standard by the owner, Udayan Kapur. Kapur and Walsh are in frequent contact, almost daily. The factory is SEDEX approved and receives regular audits. Apart from these audits, Walsh makes regular trips to the factory, to check that both the product and workplace are up to standard. Walsh’s design for shapes and prints are then finalised with the help of the team there.

Circus story ethical factory team

The road to Circus was bumpy at first. Putting together a whole range from scratch requires a lot of trial and error. Apart from the problems of finance, distance from the factory, and communications issues, it took a while to get garment fits right and consistent. Walsh discovered that one of the perks of developing your own brand is that you can take on board customer feedback, and make improvements and adjustments accordingly. Customers are an integral part of the development process. Sleeves have been added, more pockets, new buttons, hem adjustments, adding sizes, print choices – these are just some of the changes that have been implemented because of suggestions customers.

Circus story ethical factory IndiaThe end product is a collection that is bursting with rich colour and unique, fun prints, all combined with classic shapes that flatter and fit well. Circus is for the woman who likes to express her personal style, and stand out in a world full of homogeneous fashion. A fan of music and film, creative, opinionated, and clever, fun loving, but hardworking, the Circus woman wants clothing that embodies all of this. Easy to style, comfortable but chic, the Circus range allows you to get on with modern life in vintage style.

Circus story ethical factory making patternsThe Circus Story: The Future

Circus saved Carousel. Without this range, it’s likely the well loved independent shop in the heart of Dublin City would have had to close down. Independent businesses are so important for creativity and diversity in a city. Carousel now employs up to twelve people, with more staff being added as the business grows. Carousel has been able to expand to the online market at, a shop in Cork city centre, and mores shops will be opening soon. Walsh and the Good Earth factory continue to work together, and recently became partners, further solidifying their commitment to producing high quality clothing for Circus.

Circus story dublin city shop

Circus is thriving, and continues to grow day by day. It is in a constant state of development and improvement, as Walsh and the team at Carousel work on new shapes, patterns, and more. A hit with women all over the world, with customers as far as Australia, Japan, and the U.S, Circus has built up a loyal fan base. Customers collect their favorite shapes and patterns, eagerly waiting for the latest arrivals. Circus has been recognised by the press at home and abroad, including the New York Times and The Irish Times, and has celebrity fans like Uma Thurman and Clodagh McKenna. Not bad for an independent Irish range, that emerged from the dark days of the recession. Just like it’s fabrics and patterns, the future is looking bright for Circus!

Circus story spring summer

Carousel Summer: Patterns, Press and Puppies

Carousel Summer: Patterns, Press and Puppies

Welcome back to the blog! We’re here to keep you updated on everything Carousel – from design news to event information and everything in between. Happy Carousel summer shopping!

Hot off the press

It’s been an exciting summer so far here at Carousel. While the bees are busy with the blooming flowers , the papers have been abuzz about our own brightly coloured creations.  On the 28th of June, we were delighted to be featured in the New York Times as one of the Five Places to Shop in Dublin! In a piece written by Elaine Glusac, we were mentioned alongside some of our favourite boutiques and restaurants in the city centre. The article touts our brand Circus and our beloved A-line skirts and unique vintage-inspired dresses and blouses. You can read the piece here!

Carousel summer 5 places to shop in Dublin New york Times article

If that wasn’t enough press coverage for one summer, on July 17 we were featured in the Irish Times Magazine. Irish Times fashion editor Deirdre McQuillan interviewed Carousel creator Tom Walsh about the story of Carousel and how Circus came to be. In the piece, Tom speaks about Carousel’s modern vintage style and the importance of Irish design. We’d like to thank Deirdre for her article and for continually promoting Irish design and small Irish companies.

Irish Times in interview with Circus creator Tom Walsh

canines at carousel

We held our first pup-friendly event  in our Exchequer Street shop on July 19. We opened our doors to our furry friends to raise money for Dogs in Distress. This brilliant charity works to find foster homes and forever homes for their rescue dogs. Between the hours of five and seven, we allowed our canine companions into the store and took donations for the charity in exchange for a personalised portrait of our customers’ pups. We offered a 15% discount on our Circus range on the night and 10% of all proceeds went to Dogs in Distress. Keep up to date with our Facebook page for information on more of our events!

dog photography and shopping night at Carousel summer Dublin


Desserts and Dresses: Our Photoshoot in Laduree Dublin

Photographing our new stock is always a pleasure, but when we get to use a fun, or in this case a delicious, location it is all the more exciting.  We try and switch things up as much as possible, and we are very lucky to have lot’s of great places to shoot around this fair city.

This week our neighbours at Laduree Dublin let us use their pastel and pretty surroundings to photograph some of our new arrivals, and boy did we have a sweet time.

Laduree dublin vintage style dress

This location really transported us, it didn’t feel like we were in Dublin anymore! It was like stepping back in time to the court at Versailles, a tea (dress) party held by Marie Antoinette herself! Macaroons and sugared almonds galore.  We just had to indulge post shoot – Pistachio being the groups favorite.

Laduree Dublin shop photoshoot

We welcomed two new shapes to our collection this month.  We have the ‘Cora‘ (below) and the ‘Sadie‘  that are two very different styles, but both have that nostalgic vintage inspired look that we are all about!

Laduree Dublin with the Cora 1940s inspired dress

The ‘Sadie’ (below) features an ascot style collar and a simple shift shape.  It comes in a cool cotton so its perfect for Summer.  Then once Autumn is upon us you can team it with navy tights and a cardi.

Laduree Sadie boats dress lookbook

The ‘Cora’ is a 1940’s tea dress dream and slotted right in to our setting. It has a wide waistband that cinches in the waist beautifully with cap sleeves and a shirt collar.

Laduree dublin Brigitte dress morning tea

We have also gotten some of our best selling and timeless classic shapes back in stock, in new colours and patterns for summer. These include the fit and flare Brigitte dress (above), now available in a fresh and fun botanic pattern. Back by the popular demand, the darling Ava dress in green (below), covered in an adorable pattern of swooping swallows and cute clouds, in now also back in stock, and available here.

Laduree Dublin vintage style maccaroons

Laduree Dublin Vintage Ava dress Dublin

Thank you to Laduree Dublin for allowing to use your beautiful surroundings. We think the combination of vintage inspired dresses and pretty macaroons is a match made in heaven!

Vintage Inspired Looks from Carousel on Xpose

We caught ourselves on camera earlier this week on Expose! – did you see us? made it onto the small screen with some celebrity vintage inspired ‘get the looks’.  Our style is often compared to the likes of Taylor Swift, Zooey Deschanel and Imelda May to name a few!

The two celebrities chosen were the ever chic Alexa Chung and ladylike Kate Middleton who both have very different styles but do have one thing in common and it’s a love for vintage inspired style.


Alexa – who has been a poster girl for plaid and peter pan collars since she popped up on the celeb scene was a dream to dress.  We teamed our ‘Diane’ contrast top (which has just come back in to stock in a range of colours) with our  ‘Peggy’ check skirt.  This outfit super interchangeable and trans-seasonal which is very handy considering the dodgy weather we are currently having!  Add a Jumper and brogues to this and hey presto hello Autumn!

vintage inspired style trend on TV3 Xpose

Our second outfit based on Kate Middleton is fit for a Queen (I am sorry, I had to!)  The ‘Ava’ swallow and clouds dress is back in-stock and boasts a very flattering shape.  We are throwing back to the fifties with this shirt dress and is an absolute dream to wear.  Curvy of straight it nips in at the waist giving a sensational silhouette.

You can watch the feature here for further styling tips.

Sneak Peek! Circus Autumn Winter Collection 2016

We know autumn and winter are the last things everyone wants to think about as the summer sun is still shining, but here at Carousel we are always looking forward to what new treats we can bring to you every season. A new season brings a host of new colours, patterns and shapes, and we are always so excited to share them with you, as they are designed by our team here with you in mind. We always take customer feedback into account when we are making every new range. Our Circus autumn winter collection will be no exception this year.

Circus autumn winter color palette by Circus

The Circus autumn winter collection, as always, is very influenced by the vintage style of decades such as the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. We’ve used a colour palette of rich, earthy shades, mixed subtly with darker colour patterns that are inspired by nature. Cold weather dressing doesn’t have to be dull and drab, and these combinations will add just the right amount of fun and vibrancy to your autumn/winter wardrobe.

circus winter preview lookbook

Many of the pieces in the new collection come with sleeves ranging from half to full lengths. Also, most are made using thicker cotton twill fabrics also, making it easier to keep the chill out this winter, while also staying stylish! Our winter skirt lengths will be a bit longer than our summer collection, and many of the shapes have a formal but feminine vibe to them, making them perfect versatile pieces to take you from work to after work soirees!

Circus autumn winter lookbook

Keep scrolling to see more sneak peeks of what to expect from our Circus autumn winter collection, arriving online and in store at the end of August. Have you spotted any favorites?

winter vintage inspired fashion

Vintage inspired dress by Circus

vintage inspired winter dress

vintage style outfit for winter 2016

Circus autumn/winter collection

circus winter style preview

Winter vintage Vivien dress from Circus

winter ss16 preview from Circus

Black winter 1960s vintage inspired dress

Thankfully there is still lots of summer weather ahead of us, so why not take a look at our current Circus summer collection here now.

The Circus summer collection is here!

The Circus summer collection has arrived! We couldn’t wait to try the new pieces on and take to the streets and parks of Dublin to see how they look. Summertime means sunshine, warmth, fun and colour, so of course this collection is infused with bright colours, fun patterns, comfortable breathable  fabrics, all combined with gorgeous vintage inspired shapes.  As Circus is designed and made by the team here at Carousel, we are always very excited when we get our hands on the finished product. Then we can get to the best part – wearing the clothes! Take a look at some of the new arrivals below, with plenty more available online here.Circus Vivien vintage style dress

Add some bright blooms to your wardrobe with our collection of floral patterns from Circus – flowers are always a summer staple. This Vivien dress is a showstopper, with a gorgeous combination of rich purple and reds.

Circus Lana tropical print sun dress

This new Lana dress has us feeling totally tropical! We love the adjustable straps – they ensure a perfect fit that’s just right for you! We’ll be wearing this beauty on all our sunny holiday adventures this year.

Circus Claudette sun dress

In a light denim like material and covered in a sprinkling of daisies, this Claudette is great for keeping things cool and casual on warm summer days in the city.

Circus Vivien 1940s inspired dress

This bright and pretty tulip pattern Vivien dress will ensure you stand out this summer! We love the warm deep orange colour and unique 1940’s inspired tea dress shape.

Circus summer collection new Nina dress

So fresh! The blue and white stripes on this new Nina dress reminds us of the seaside and ice cream – which is exactly what we plan on eating all summer, so we are so glad for those flattering vertical stripes! This versatile dress shape can be easily dressed up or down, and we can see ourselves wearing it to all kinds of summer occasions.

Circus summer collection seperates polka dot Anita skirtDon’t forget your separates! Mixing and matching from our range of blouses and skirts means you will have endless outfit options this summer. This Anna blouse and cute Anita skirt are a match made in heaven.

Circus summer range designed in Ireland by Carousel

Take a look at our lil’ video below to see these looks in action. All of these pieces, and more, are available in our new arrivals section here now. Keep your eyes peeled for more new pieces being added to the Circus summer collection very soon!

The Circus Spring Summer 2016 Preview!


We recently hosted an in store event for members of the press to preview the new Circus Spring Summer 2016 range. Circus is a vintage style clothing range, and is Irish owned and designed in house by the team here at Carousel in Dublin. Needless to say, we are very proud of this line, and we were excited to get a chance to show off the new Spring Summer pieces to members of the press!

Models with vintage style dresses at Carousel Press night

Our lovely models headed to Makeup Forever on Clarendon Street to get their make-up done and get the build up to the event started.

Circus Spring Summer 2016 clothing range sneak peekAs make up was underway, back at our Exchequer street store we prepped our selected looks for fittings. We wanted to show a range that would best represent what Circus is all about  – vintage inspired, unique, feminine, fun, and with oodles of personality. There’s so many shapes we adore in the Circus range that it was hard to chose, but we eventually narrowed it down to nine.

Vintage style Brigitte fit and flare floral dressThe nine looks we featured included some best selling and timeless shapes, like the Brigitte dress above, which we have made available in a variety of colours and patterns. We think this dress’s popularity comes from its versatility – it’s so easy to style for all occasions!

Circus Ingrid Fern dress 1940s styleWe also wanted to preview some of our new patterns and vivid colours for Spring/Summer, many of which have already proven a hit with customers, such as this Ingrid fern print dress, above.

Circus vintage inspired blue dressIn Spring and Summer we like to reintroduce some of our sleeveless or strappy shapes, like the Sylvia and Claudette dresses. We will also shorten sleeves on our popular winter shapes, making them perfect for sunny weather!

Circus Spring Summer 2016 Claudette dress We got the show on the road once our guests had arrived and had some refreshments. Betty took everyone through each individual look, giving the details of each shape, their inspiration, and tips on how to style the pieces.

Circus spring summer 2016 range Charlotte dress

Green twiggy shift dress from CircusThe evening went off without a hitch, so of course we all felt like we deserved a glass of bubbly to celebrate! You can take a look at all the new Circus Spring Summer 2016 arrivals here, with more on the way next week.

Carousel staff and models celebrate press night wrap up

Behind the Scenes At Our Leafy Autumn Photo Shoot!

We had lots of fun this morning shooting some looks from the Autumn/Winter ranges from both Circus and Kyte. It had to be one of the loveliest, sunniest mornings there has been in Dublin for quite a while. We couldn’t stop laughing about how springlike the weather was as we were trying to get some darker Autumn/Winter vibes for our photos – that crazy Irish weather, always surprising us! We had to change our photo shoot plans for the day a bit, and put away the brollies, but we weren’t complaining

Take a look below at some behind the scenes shots from our shoot in St. Stephens Green park this morning. We’re very lucky that this great location is only a two minute walk from our newest Carousel store in Stephens Green Shopping Centre, so shooting there on this sunlit morning was a no brainer. The leafy lawns were perfect for having some fun throwing around leaves in the sun, and we highly recommend a visit there this Autumn as the trees lining the parks boulevards and pathways turn to gold and red.

behind the scenes Circus Autumn photoshoot

behind the scenes park autumn style

behind the scenes autumn leaves

stephens green park autumn dublin

You can get this Autumn look from our shoot today all at Carousel:

Ava Wisteria dress from Circus available here, 70s style hat available here, pink bolero available here.

autumn vintage style carousel

New at Carousel: Introducing the Circus Charlotte dress!

circus charlotte dress retro vintage style anchors

Designed here in Ireland by the team at Carousel, there’s a new dress shape from Circus in town! Introducing the Circus Charlotte dress (available here), a fun shirt dress shape with a shawl collar. This dress is inspired by the shirtwaist dresses that boomed in popularity during the 1940’s, and continue to be popular with lovers of all things classic and vintage nowadays.

With a sleeve length that’s just right for the end of summer, and soon to be available in a variety of colours and patterns, the Charlotte dress will see you stylishly into Autumn. The best thing about the Charlotte dress? In our opinion it has to be that full, flared circle skirt! It’s so flattering to all kinds of body shapes. The Carousel team have all tried this dress on, and it looks great on everyone! Easy to wear, and made from a comfortable cotton fabric, the Charlotte dress is perfect for laid back lunches or catching a movie with friends.

Introducing Kyte, Designed by Carousel + Arriving Soon!

Designed in house by the team here at Carousel, a new vintage inspired range called “Kyte” is due to arrive at the beginning of September! We’re so excited to be able to share a little sneak peek with you today, as the first samples have just arrived at Carousel HQ. We couldn’t wait to try them out for size, and see how they fit and look on us.

1950s vintage style dress Kyte sample

The first thing we noticed about the Kyte dresses is how comfortable they are. Made from fabric with a little bit of stretch, that extra bit of give guarantees a great fit for everybody. That, combined with their simple yet structured classic shapes, makes them flattering on all of us who tried them on – and we all have a range of body shapes here at Carousel! Each sample we received was in a solid colour, which makes for versatile and easy styling. We can see ourselves wearing them on a night out with a statement necklace and heels. They will also be available in vivid and fun patterned versions, a great way to make a style statement!

60's style Kyte dress vintage sample

We are loving summertime, but these samples have us wishing for Autumn, when we can see the finished frocks, and get our hands on some gorgeous Kyte pieces all for ourselves!

fit and flare dress Kyte sample red

Kyte sample retro shift dress Jackie o

1940s style vintage dress black Kyte sample

Which shape are you loving so far? Since everything at Carousel is always designed with you in mind, do let us know what you think!

Carousel xox