Lesetta was born out of Summer travels with my family. I began gathering intel and searching for independent, passionate artisans in Italy in 2017 and from then on, our trips have included family fun, but also they have been planned around meeting new designers in new areas. 2019 was no different.
When I decided that Ireland was an area I wanted to explore for Lesetta, I reached out to my friend and international tastemaker, Sophie Lloyd whose connections in the UK led me to Jo Lyons, the fabulous stylist and Irish fashion expert who I was fortunate enough to spend two days with in Dublin.
Upon arriving at our hotel in Dublin, Jo was waiting for me with two designers she brought to meet me and show me their work. I spent the morning with Freya Oatway of FAO Millinery and Carla Johnson of Mona Swims seeing their work and learning about their backgrounds, skill and inspirations. I learned about Freya’s internship with Philip Treacy, one of the most prestigious milliners in the world and hatmaker to the Queen. Freya’s interest in dressmaking quickly evolved into her passion for creating beautiful headware. Carla, who has spent most of her career in printmaking, began translating her intricate designs to swimwear and resort wear sarongs and kaftans. Both of these designers’ works are represented in the Lesetta Collection today.
That afternoon, it was off to the beautiful Brown Thomas department store in heart of Dublin. Part of the Selfridge’s Collection, BT has a fabulous program in Ireland every Summer called Brown Thomas Create. They host a group of local Irish designers, that have to go through a strenuous approval process, and give them a whole floor of the store to promote their work. I was so fortunate to be in town during this short 6-week installation. It is there that Jo introduced me to Emmett Herbert, Úna Burke’s husband and business partner. We dove into Úna’s current collection of fierce, yet feminine leather goods. I adore her work and to see it though Emmett’s eyes was a treat indeed! It was also at Brown Thomas that I met Helen Hayes, who makes beautiful hand cut and sewn dresses and bags. I returned to Brown Thomas several times that week, while I was in Dublin. A manageable high-end department store with the kindest staff that delivered a level of customer service that is rare to find these days.
Jo also introduced me to a fabulous jewelry co-op, a great concept store as well as several vintage stores in the heart of the city. The vintage scene in Dublin is amazing and to have a guide like Jo was an absolute win! We ate at fabulous high-end and pub-like restaurants throughout the city. Every taxi driver shared their love of Dublin. The buskers on the street were top-notch, the parks lovely and full of locals and the city itself is simply beautiful. I could go one and on about the cuisine, the music, and the energy of Dublin. It is a favorite city to me. We made excisions into the countryside, to see the Cliffs of Mor, and other fabulous sites. We spent a few days in Belfast, that is truly like another world. I love Ireland and have barely scratched the surface. I hope this will be a part of the Smith family travels again in the future. I am not sure I can get enough.