If you've been following us on Facebook or Twitter, you'll know that I'm spending a little bit of time in sunny (albeit, chilly) Ireland. I've spent the last few days in Dublin, scouring for local designer shops and unique finds, chatting with designers and dipping into a Guinness or two (or three, or four ... who's counting?). I found a spot that is definitely worth sharing and is a must on any Dublin visit (calling all fashion addicts!). [caption id="attachment_4558" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="A Claire O'Connor dress and Philip Treacy topper. Image courtesy of Justin Harrington. "] [/caption] At the Powerscourt Shopping Centre you'll find a slew of quaint, eccentric, unique little shops (from flowers, to jewels, to coffee and ice cream) and it's just off of Grafton Street (the main pedestrian shopping area). But the real gem for fashion lovers is on the very top floor in a spacious corner called the Design Centre. Here's what I learned about the shop and a few tidbits about Irish design: 1. The Design Centre has been a mainstay in the Irish fashion industry for 30 years. The first of its kind in Dublin, it's a platform for Irish designers (old and new) and has launched many design careers ( John Rocha, anyone?). 2. It used to only be Irish designer goods you could find here, but in the mid-'90s they introduced the Irish style-set to international finds such as Preen and Julien MacDonald. [caption id="attachment_4559" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Philip Treacy's candy-hued spring/summer confections. Image courtesy of Justin Harrington. "] [/caption] 3. Now the shop carries the very best that Irish design has to offer, from deliciously pale pink John Rocha silk tops, to the ever-more-popular-thanks-to-the-royal-wedding Irish-born milliner Philip Treacy's divine creations (I got to try on a few! Swoon!), to up-and-coming designer Claire O'Connor. 4. The designers themselves are often in the shop ... wouldn't it be ah-maz-ing to say that you not only met John Rocha, but he helped fit your current covetous piece? Sigh. 5. Despite being in a recession, fashion lovers in Ireland are still splurging on investment pieces -- classics that will last from season to season ... something many Irish designers tend to follow, rather than committing to trends. [caption id="attachment_4560" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="Playing dress-up with Philip Treacy's fascinators. Image courtesy of Justin Harrington. "] [/caption] 6. Siobhan Carnegie, who works at the Design Centre, sums up Irish design this way: "It's not as trend driven. John Rocha is John Rocha, he doesn't necessarily follow every trend -- it's always very body conscious. If you open any magazine from around the world, you've looked at the same pieces, same brands. But in Ireland, fashion is its own insular thing ... it's not trend driven and you won't find it in every magazine. It's unique." So, if you're in Dublin and you're dying to find a one-of-a-kind number that will last you longer than a season or two, stay true to some Irish roots and pick up an Irish designer piece. And throw in a Philip Treacy fascinator while you're at it (even at € 1,200 a pop). :) If you could splurge on any designer piece, what would it be?