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.

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


Dark Florals: A Trend We Love for Winter!

Trend Watch

 We’ve never shied away from a floral here in Carousel, so we’re always thinking of ways to incorporate them into our autumn/winter wardrobe. We’ve spotted a recent mini-trend on the red carpet for dark florals, especially floral prints on a black background, and we’re loving it! We’ve found a few great styles from our range to help you capture the look.

 celebrities black floral dress autumn looks

Kyte Lily Floral Dress

New in from our Kyte range, the Lily dress is perfectly chic. Wear with fabulous strappy heels like Elizabeth Banks for a great evening look.

Dark floral vintage style dress from Kyte

Circus Ingrid Dandelion Dress

It’s approaching that time of year when we start pulling out our boots and tights. The Ingrid dandelion print dress from Circus will look perfect wrapped up with winter woollies. We’re picturing a plum lip colour to really set it off!

 Dark florals 1940s Ingrid tea dress from Circus

Kyte Jackie Contrast Dress

Classic elegance can be yours in the new Jackie contrast dress. Ultra flattering and comfortable, it’s a new favourite with all the staff! We love the hint of print on the collar and pockets. Joan Holloway, eat your heart out!

 1960s Jackie shift dress from Kyte dark floral contrast

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.

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!

First Ladies of Summer Style: Malia, Sasha, and Michelle Obamas Style

We have been taking lessons in chic, feminine summer style from the Obama ladies during their recent trips to London and Milan. We cannot get enough of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha’s mix of bright colours and bold patterns with elegant, vintage style shapes. Have you ever seen a more polished and put together family? They make looking this stylish look effortless, and we were inspired here at Carousel to recreate similar looks for you!

The fit and flare silhouette is clearly a favorite amongst the Obama ladies at the moment, and we can see why. A classic shape that was all the rage in the 1940’s and ’50’s, it continues to be a popular choice for many women today. The fit and flare flatters by nipping in the waist and giving you a great shape, but also allows movement and comfort with a full flared skirt. Team your fit and flare outfit of choice with sleek hair and pumps for that First lady look.

Fit and flare dresses are perfect for more formal occasions, but Michelle Obama nailed an easy to wear day time look when arriving in Milan. She combined a simple block colour top with a retro flared patterned skirt, a versatile look that can take you from work to a casual lunch. Keep accessories to a minimum, and your hair style simple, to let your chic, lady like outfits do all the talking!

 Get Michelle Obamas style at Carousel!
michelle obamas style inspiration

 (1.) Closet denim dress available here (2.) Amber chambray dress here (3.) Red Anna blouse from Circus here (4.) The Peggy sunnies skirt from Circus here (5.) Polka dot neck tie blouse here (6.) The 1950’s floral skirt here.

Michelle Obamaa style vintage fit and flare dress London

(7.) Closet floral pleat dress here (8.) The Brigitte star print fit and flare dress here.

Inspirational Movie Style: God Help the Girl!

We have all lost many a precious hour watching pure drivel on Netflix, but the beauty of the site is that sometimes you can stumble across a little known gem. That happened to me on a recent duvet day when I decided to watch God Help The Girl (2014). It turned out to be one of my better decisions of late! I have since forced everyone who works in Carousel to watch it too.

God Help The Girl is an utterly charming musical. It’s a touching and thought-provoking film with a fantastic soundtrack. It was written by Stuart Murdoch of ‘Belle and Sebastian’ fame and stars Olly Alexander (of Years and Years), Emily Browning, and Hannah Murray. Pierre Boulanger who (ironically) plays Anton the Swiss German deserves a special shout-out, if only for his beautifully French name.

The costumes in the film are pretty spot on, and maybe I’m biased, but I thought they really reflected the Carousel aesthetic. Cassie and Eve wear vintage inspired clothes throughout the film, similar to some of our favorites from Circus and Lavande. I set about trying to recreate with dresses available at Carousel below!

God-help-the-girl god-help-thegirl-1

1. Pretty Vacant Pixie Dress available here 2. Straw boater hat here 3. Grace Kelly glasses here 4. Circus Floral Lana dress here

god help the girl movie style vintage

god help the girl retro dress style

5. Lavand floral dress here 6. Straw Cloche hat here 7. ’40’s Cat Eye Sunglasses here 8. Circus Striped Brigitte dress here

The clothes in God Help the Girl look great, but the outfits are not very difficult to put together. A cute vintage-style dress and a some inspired accessorising will do the trick!

movie style musical vintage inspired

I’d love to know if anyone else has seen God Help the Girl. If so, what did you think? If you haven’t seen it, watch it right away, it’s marvelous. Great costumes, brilliant acting, catchy soundtrack, what’s not to love? I really think this one is set to become a cult classic!

Isabelle x

Musicgals: The Inspiring Style of Women in Music

It’s no secret that music inspires our lives every day, not to mention the musicians and their own personal style behind it. Women in music, past and present, are a driving force of inspiration and expression in personal style for us here at Carousel. Whats cooler than an all-girl punk band in mini-skirts singing about how powerful women are? Kathleen Hanna once said ‘I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe.’ She was talking about buying dresses right? Or did I get that one wrong, I mean, a full wardrobe of new threads seems pretty pleasurable to me.

Or what about a 50’s Jazz beauty, dressed to the nines in a gorgeous midi dress, telling us stories of her long lost love? By emulating these stunning and powerful women, we can be transported to a different era. Style is timeless, and if you wanna pop to the shops on a Sunday morning in an Ella Fitzgerald-esque 1940’s frock, then we are all for it! Style is about having fun! If metaphorical dress-induced time travel doesn’t float your boat, you can always stay right here in 2015, “Shake Off” the bad vibes, and dance to the good ones in your favourite party dress á-lá Taylor Swift. And well, that seems pretty perfect too. Just do you, girl.

That girl thinks she’s the queen of the neighbor hood, well I’ve got news for you.. SHE IS!” (Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl, 1993)

aretha franklin vintage style soul singer

Channel soul sensation Aretha Franklin with 1960’s inspired A-line dresses and sweet floral sundresses. Finish off the look with some accessories that are ‘sweeter than honey’.
(Green Claudette Dress here, Twiggy Dress here, Sunglasses here, Earrings here)

sarah vaughan jazz women in music

Emulate the effortless 1940’s femininity and grace of jazz singer extraordinaire Sarah Vaughan, but stay cool and moody and true to her jazz roots in dark, cool colors and dark cat eye shades.
(Grey Lillian dress here, Blue polka dot Ingrid dress here, Necklace here, Sunglasses here)

solange knowles singer retro style

Get colorful and daring with some bright retro styling like the eternally cool Solange Knowles.(Butterfly Betty dress here, Red Ava 1940’s dress here, 1940’s Sunglasses here, Daisy print scarf here)

Taylor Swift style pop music singer circus

Grab Taylor Swift’s perfectly pretty style in gorgeous separates. Our Olivia skirt (Which just so
happens to be the name of one of Taylor’s cats… Coincidence? I think not.) and Marlene blouse just ooze preppy-cool. Simply add a pair of Taylor’s signature wayfarer sunglasses to finish the look!
(Burgundy Olivia skirt here, Rabbit print Angie shirt here, Blue Marlene blouse here, Floral 1950’s Anita skirt here, Wayfarer sunglasses)

kathleen hanna style riot girl carousel

Steal riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna’s unique and rebellious style in super cool mini skirts, shift dresses, and huge glasses!
(Peach Angie blouse here, Spot Skirt here, Black Shift dress here, Sunglasses here)

Vintage Style Inspiration from Queens of the Screen!

Girls on Film – we get some vintage style inspiration from the movies!

For decades, women in film have inspired how we have dressed. The iconic ladies of the screen have an incredible way of creating characters that bring out a desire to “BE” like them. Here at carousel we definitely find some new vintage style inspiration every once in a while that influences how we want to dress. Nine times out of ten, it’s definitely dictated by a character, actress, or women in history, that we really admire.

First, lets look to fictional characters: Take “Penny Lane and the Band Aids” In Almost Famous (2000) for instance. Penny and her gal pals exude the quaint essential 70’s chick style. Too cool for school (did they even go to school?) and always effortlessly styled in loose-fitting spring time vibes. Now I’m not saying we should all copy these characters, because that wouldn’t exactly be creative now would it? Instead, how about we imagine we were part of their gang. Now that’s way more fun! (And who doesn’t love a super cool girl gang?) So grab your groovy gal pals, stick on Tiny Dancer by Elton John and blast it out on a highway while wearing these cool threads:

Almost Famous 70's style movie inspiration

movie quote style almost famous

70s style vintage inspiration movies

Next up, a woman with on and off screen style: Let’s take it back to the 40’s and 50’s with the ever chic, Jean Seberg. Muse of French New-Wave director Jean-Luc Goddard, and all-roundminimal beauty. Jean encapsulates classic cool French style on film, and in her own personal style, with pastel blues, baby pinks, and adding an edgy touch to her classic feminine style with a short pixie cut. Which (be warned) you may even be tempted to try out a pixie cut  yourself if you fall for her like Goddard did.

inspiration movie style jean serberg

vintage style inspiration retro dress from Carousel

jean seberg movie style blouse carousel

And last but most definitely not least in our current girls on film loves: A woman with incredible personal style – the unfathomable Bianca Jagger. How is she even a real person? Too hot to handle, queen of the 60’s & 70’s, the ultimate risk taker. Bianca’s style was, and is not, for the faint of heart. But luckily enough, its not so hard to emulate. So get your stilettos and head scarf wrap on, and take a look at how we re-create her style.

bianca jagger vintage style inspiration collage

vintage style inspiration carousel

Vintage Valentines Style Inspiration: The Notebook

Valentines day is just around the corner and it got us thinking about our favourite romantic films. Classics like Dirty Dancing, Casablanca and Roman Holiday all made the list! All of these movies have given us some serious Valentines style inspiration as well!

Get Vintage Inspired Valentines Style!

Vintage Valentines style inspiration the notebook

The Notebook has to be one of the most romantic films of all time. Part of the appeal (apart from Ryan Gosling of course!) is the amazing 1930s and 40s outfits Rachel McAdam’s character Allie wears throughout the film. The blue dress from the poster is probably the most famous outfit from the movie, but some of the other outfits are equally gorgeous. Many of the dresses remind us of our own Ava (See them all here) and Ingrid dress (here) from Circus. They both have that easy to wear, everyday glamour that was so prevalent in 1940’s style.  What do you think? Perfect for a Valentines date!