circus brand logo

Developing “Circus” our Irish designed, ethically made responsible fashion brand inspired by original womens vintage dresses

The first 20 years:

For many years Carousel bought and sold independent retail brands with a vintage inspired aesthetic in our shop in central Dublin. Sourcing womens vintage dresses was a successful and a thoroughly enjoyable time which lasted over 20 years. Traveling all over the world to trade fairs picking up new cool brands and introducing them to the Irish market. I travelled all over Europe and occasionally the USA attending trade fairs. Carousel became a go to source for original womens vintage dresses and vintage inspired dresses

But like all good things this came to an end around 2010. For many reasons  this business model was no longer viable. Margins were squeezed by increasing rents, rates, vat and other day to day running costs. When the banks stopped credit lines the business almost ground to a halt. A new vision was urgently needed.


The adventure begins

Carousel had to find new product that was  viable under the changing conditions. I travelled to Thailand on the recommendation of a friend who had recently holidayed there. In Thailand I found many small clothing manufacturers. Bangkok was a hive of exciting and innovative young businesses with a can do approach to getting things done. It was a very inspiring place to be.  I found many of these enterprises in a place called the Platinum market which I found online. This was full of small clothing brands, some resellers but many had there own factory.

a small Bangkok clothing shop

A typical shop in Platinum market selling their own designs

I spent a week in Bangkok on my first trip going up and down the isles day after day assessing which brands were  potential partners. Initially I bought items at the market and had them delivered to my hotel. I then arranged shipping back to Ireland. I did this for one or two more trips until I had developed a relationship with a number of the shop owners. They would then send me images of new lines by email. I woul transfer the money and they would deliver to a shipper in Bangkok. I did this for 2 or 3 years with a  degree of success. This saved the business in the short term but was not a long term solution.

I travelled to Bangkok every 6 months to build on the relationships and source more sofisticated product. In all my time working with the Thai people I never had an issue. Everything delivered always arrived  as described and in good condition. Travelling to Bangkok opened up my eyes to the possibilities beyond Europe.

Some of our first womens vintage dresses sourced in Bangkok

Our first womens vintage inspired dresses sourced from Platinum market in Bangkok

Thai design is heavily influenced by vintage style. Very often the aesthetic was copied directly from original womens vintage dresses.

Trends we love: The Versatile and Vintage Pussy Bow!

Bow down to the Pussy Bow!

While the pussy bow is a decorative accent that has been added to blouses and dresses for a long time now, this bow at the neckline really started to take off in the 1930’s and 40’s. It has continued as a beloved trend since then, popping up in every style era through the 20th century. A popular choice with both vintage and modern icons alike, we love the pussy bow because of it’s versatility. A playful, feminine interpretation of the men’s neck tie, a pussy bow blouse or dress is the perfect foundation for a vintage style look. The best part about it is that, depending on how you style it, you can take your pick of vintage eras to base your look on. Also, you can dress it for so many different occasions – work, formal events, casual lunches – the skies the limit!

pussy bow blouse vintage inspiration

For a 1940’s/50’s look, combine your pussy bow blouse with a retro flared skirt, like the Anita skirt from Circus. Tuck it into a pencil skirt and add a beehive for a smart 1960’s look a la Mad Men. 1970’s vibes are big news this summer, so add flares and suede to get the look. Or keep things simple by pairing the 1960’s inspired Twiggy shift dress from Circus with some sandals or colorful brogues.

pussy bow blouse modern celebrity style inspiration

Modern celebs and style icons love the pussy bow too. They keep their outfit simple, putting the pussy bow as the focus and flair of the look. Wear yours this summer over skinny jeans or shorts with sandals for a casual, laid back but polished look. The Anna blouse from Circus, available in several colors and patterns, would be perfect for this look. Alternatively, you could pop your blouse under a sleeveless dress, letting the bow peep out over the neckline, creating a whole new dress! Add some fun to your work wear by combining a patterned pussy bow blouse, like the Donna from Circus, under a slick suit or blazer, creating a feminine power suit!

With some many options coming from one little neck bow, we think the pussy bow is our new summer wardrobe staple!

Summer Movie Style Inspiration – Look One: Grease!

It’s the height of summer, and on those days when it’s just too warm to go outside, or you’ve already been out and about in the sun all day, we like to cool down by watching some of our favorite (and most stylish!) summer movies. Over the next few days, we will be revisiting our top 3 summer movies, and creating outfits inspired by each one! So first up is the colourful and rambunctious musical “Grease”!

Grease summer movie style retro carousel

A classic story about a good girl and bad boy falling in love, this movie is what we wish our summers in high school were like! Even though made in 1978, this movie still looked back to the 1950’s for it’s setting and style, and the outfits are to die for! With lots of retro fit and flare dresses, poodle skirts, cute little sweaters, bobby socks, and bad ass jackets, this movie is a treat for any vintage loving stylista.

Movie style vintage fashion carousel

Getting the Grease look for yourself isn’t too difficult. We really love lead character Sandy’s style throughout the movie. She has that classic prim 1950’s style – all big full circle skirts, petticoats and cardigans. To pay homage to the movies girl gang “The Pink Ladies” we’ve paired this cute pink polka dot shirt with this gorgeous anchor print full skirt. Just tie your hair into a prim ponytail, add a cardigan (worn on your shoulders only of course!) and a pristine pair of white bobby socks, and you have the Sandy look! If you want to represent Sandy’s “bad” (but oh so good!) side that emerges in the movie, you could pop the collar of your shirt and add these sassy vintage inspired cat eye sunglasses. 

Get Look Grease Movie CarouselCheck back soon for more of our favorite summer movie style – next up is “500 Days of Summer”!

Carousel xox

An eye on style: We celebrate retro spectacles!

Whether you need to wear glasses or not, there’s no denying the appeal of vintage mid-century spectacles! We think women’s glasses in the 1940’s, 50s and 60s were much more daring, glamorous and stylish than many of their modern counterparts. Anyone remember what your average pair of glasses looked like in the 80s and 90s? *shudder*. The cat eye shape is definitely our favorite. Made in an assortment of colours, with offbeat shapes and embellishments, they made quite the statement!

Nowadays we’ve moved past the idea that wearing glasses is unattractive (we know you’re all gorgeous no matter what!), and can fully appreciate these retro frames style potential. Adding a pair of retro spectacles to an outfit will give it a wild and unique vintage twist. We love the drama a pair of sharp cat eyes add to any look, framing your eyes beautifully! You don’t need to have a prescription either. There are plenty of frame options available for those lucky enough to have 20/20 vision who want to give this retro look a try! We took a look around for some retro spectacle inspiration, and we were so inspired by what we found we had to share these images with you. So put your glasses on and keep scrolling for a closer look!

marily monroe wearing glasses inspirationGrace Kelly carousel spectaclesretro spectacles typewriter vintage styleglamorous women glasses retro stylecateye glasses vintage fashion1950s woman fashion spectacles carouselvintage style inspiration glasses carousel1960s advertising cat eye glassesglasses on table vintage retro

Here at Carousel we love retro spectacles so much, that we don’t just stick to wearing them atop our noses! You can show your appreciation (no prescription necessary!) with this fabulous fit and flare dress from Circus that has real “specs” appeal, available here!

vintage glasses print dress carousel

Carousel xox

1950s Inspired: The Bestselling Dress From Circus Is Back!

We are in love with this 1950s inspired shirt dress shape. It sold out so fast the last time that it was in stock, that some of us feared we had missed our chance to own one! Well fear no more! The popular green polka version is back in stock here, and, as if things couldn’t get any better, Circus have also added a plain red version of the dress (here)!

The dress would be ideal for a retro themed night out – it really gets us in a 1950s Americana mood! We can imagine ourselves in this dress, sipping on a milkshake in a retro themed diner, then heading to a drive in movie to catch a classic flick. We’d wear it with a cardigan slung over your shoulders, bobby socks, oxford shoes, and a vintage inspired hairstyle to complete the look.

1950s inspired shirt dress vintage carouselGet this 1950’s inspired dress at Carousel!

Get a slice of the 1950’s for yourself, before this dress is as gone as the era it’s inspired by! You can find the red dress here, and the polka dot version here.

Carousel xox