- 10 Sep 19
Attention students: Maynooth’s Glass Doll is one of the finest vintage stores around.
Vintage stores and custom designs are experiencing a resurgence in Ireland, thanks to fashion-lovers’ desire for unique outfits, and a growing awareness of how vintage clothes are an integral part of the sustainable fashion movement. The Glass Doll store in Maynooth combines all of these – beautiful custom pieces, a gorgeous array of vintage clothes and accessories, and a thoughtful ethos.
Bernie O’Mahony, who runs the store, was born in Dublin but grew up in Manchester, before moving back to Ireland when she met her husband. Though the landscapes changed, her interest in fashion and design was constant. “I had a craft shop in Castlebar in 1980,” she reflects. “I would teach craft night classes in the local school. I taught mindfulness using crafts during that time – something I wish was thought more regularly today.”
Bernie spent years selling her designs at markets such The Mingle Market in Dublin and The Liberty Markets, “customising everything including head pieces, hats, bags and jackets.” In 2012, she opened her own shop Kitten Doll & B in Thomas Street, but the shop closed after the street’s renovations.
“Then I met Betty McGlynn, my business partner,” explains Bernie, “who works in vintage, and together we opened up The Glass Doll in Maynooth four years ago. I call all my designs ‘Made by Doll’.”
Bernie’s Made By Doll headpieces are beautiful, intricate, stylish and whimsical – but they’re also thoughtful and inclusive. For years, Bernie has tailored her designs so that her headpieces are suitable for chemotherapy patients and people suffering from alopecia. Her design process is thoughtful and empathetic, marrying striking style with the tactile qualities necessary to make each piece comfortable to wear.
“You go for comfort first of all,” she notes. “The main idea of the chemotherapy hat is that they’re just a hat for everybody.”
Bernie’s eclectic, stylish headpieces are merely one form of treasure to be found in The Glass Doll, which stocks a gorgeously curated selection of clothes and accessories. Her love of crafts and her spiritual approach to fashion can be found in the selection of wool, incense and crystals. Meanwhile, Betty runs the vintage part of the store, and loves how the utterly unique pieces make every customer feel special.
“The joy of vintage for me,” she says, “is when someone comes in thinking there is nothing here for me – then they leave in a completely different outfit.”
But vintage shopping is about more than fun; it’s also beneficial to the environment, as it doesn’t demand the production and waste of the fast fashion industry. Bernie and Betty are now working with photographer, writer, and style icon Sarah Navan, who is not only helping to set up The Glass Doll’s online shop, but also bringing her passion for sustainable fashion and charity events to the business.
“Apart from the obvious fun you have with vintage fashion, it’s so sustainable,” says Betty. “I have seen the evolution of fashion, but I have also seen the effects the fast fashion industry has on the environment. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world next to oil! Sarah is obsessed with the events Sustainable Fashion Dublin puts on and just wishes they were all over Ireland. She loves to bring the crafts from the shop, and take a leaf out of Bernie’s book and customise and upcycle clothes.”
Sarah is also organising a charity fashion show focusing on diversity and accessibility in fashion; a show that is in part inspired by activists like Sinead Burke and Ciara O’Connor, who have written about these issues in relation to fashion, art and who gets to be represented in these worlds. The event features models with disabilities and diverse body types, and promises to be an empowering show that proves that great style is for everyone.
“The GlenRoyal Hotel in Maynooth have gone and ordered a bigger stage because they have never had models in chairs before and want to make the day perfectly accessible to everyone,” explains Bernie. “We also have members from Sarah’s old cancer support group, CanTeen Ireland, modelling some of my caps and bandanas. I can’t wait to meet them all and custom make something for them. All proceeds raised on the night will be split between the two charities. The fashion show is on in the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth on October 10. Tickets will be available from next week and we are very honoured to have the extremely funny and talented comedian Fred Cooke, fresh off Dancing With The Stars, and his beautiful and funny partner Julie Jay MCing on the evening.”
• The Glass Doll is in Court House Square, Maynooth and their online shop can be found here.