On Location: Dublin

DublinMainv2 by Don Duncan
The Temple Bar district in Dublin city center has, like Ireland, recently emerged from relative hardship to become a poster-child of vibrant EU-funded redevelopment. The mesh of cobbled streets and narrow alleys is one of the few areas in Dublin to retain its medieval character, as developers had overlooked its degeneration. From the seedbed of artists, bohemians, and small shops that low government rents had drawn, the neighborhood sprouted cultural institutions, retailers, artists' studios, and a flourish of new, urbane eateries. Once the home of inner-city tenements and struggling artists, Temple Bar is now the neighborhood where Dublin shows just how European a capital it is, freely mixing local and traditional crafts and trades with the newest trends from the continent. Here, Refinery29 reports back from Dublin's Temple Bar on what not to miss the next time you're in the neighborhood.
Here is a roundup of our favorite shops:
Claire Garvey, 6 Cow's Lane, 2, +353 (1) 671 7287
A graduate of NCAD, Ireland's premier national design school, Claire Garvey refined her craft studying costume design in Moscow, a period that informs the aesthetic of the label she started upon her return to Ireland just over five years ago. Her creations, all produced by a team of four at her boutique, draw from medieval romances, Celtic folklore, and modern Western costume design. Working extensively with silk, tulle, and velvet in earthy and pastel shades, Claire serves up fanciful extravagance that could be the lovechild of Galliano and Tolkien. Her aptitude for corsetry is manifest throughout her collection. Claire also produces lines of elaborate headpieces, as well as bags and a small jewelry line heavily inspired by vegetation. No surprise, Garvey's label will be stocked at Bergdorf Goodman later this year.
Eager Beaver, 17 Crown Alley, 2, +353 (1) 677 3342
A Temple Bar institution, dating from before the neighborhood's overhaul, the Eager Beaver is the primordial stop on the Dublin thrift trail and carries the spirit of the first low-rent retailers to move into the run-down area. With merchandise sourced from Germany, Holland, Belgium, the UK, and the U.S., the two-level store is a no-nonsense assortment of thrift and vintage for men and women. Prices range from $2 for T-shirts to $90 for some leather apparel and vintage designer pieces, including Burberry, Harris Tweed, Chanel, and Azzaro. The London-based Pop label features predominantly in the T-shirts and bag sections and constitutes the store's only ostensible core brand.
Smock, Unit 5, 20-22 Essex Street West, 8, +353 (1) 613 9000
The luxury landscape would be quite grim in Dublin were it not for Smock. The store effectively frees luxury from the department store grasp, and has ended the once necessary "shop-hop" to London. Smock is the exclusive Irish importer of some thoroughly modern labels, including A.P.C., Martin Margiela, AF Vandervorst, Bernhard Willhelm, Costume National, Tutu, and Vanessa Bruno. Founders Karen Crawford and Susan O'Connell demonstrate an exacting aesthetic and design tastes that extend from the congruent and accessible assortment they've acquired, to the simple, chic decor of the compact one-level space. Crawford describes the selection as "non-seasonal" and "investment pieces," to endure long after a trend's life-span.
Design Yard, Cow's Lane, 2, +353 (1) 474 1011; www.designyard.ie
Featuring some 80 artists working in silver, gold, and other metals, precious and semi-precious stones, wood, glass, and ceramics, Design Yard is the most concentrated collection of work by fine-art designers in Ireland. The retail space offers conventional art as well as jewelery, silverware, furniture, and tableware, and everything carried by the store is exclusive. Spun-off from a government-funded non-profit that promotes Irish fine art, DY stays the course with its current portfolio of designers, most of whom hail from or work in Ireland (Seamus Gill, Denis Brown, Anthony Scott, Roger Bennett, Brid Lyons, to name a few). Not headed to Ireland soon? DY has an excellent retail website.
Cow's Lane Market, Cow's Lane, 2. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. except December and January
For three years now, Saturdays have become a bustling outdoor fashion market on Cow's Lane. Emerging Irish designers can be found at the market alongside a handful of international importers hawking merchandise from continental Europe, Asia, and South America. A sort of style laboratory for the young designers of greater Dublin, Cow's Lane market is also the first link in the fashion food chain, as many designers start off at the market and then achieve brick-and-mortar status in the surrounding neighborhood. Designs vary from handcrafted pieces to more derivative work, as well as some fun experimental sartorial fantasies. Above all, the market offers a fresh view on embryonic Irish design.
SeSi, 11 Fownes Street, 2, +353 (1) 677 4779
SeSi ('HeShe' in Gaelic) is a funky little shop on the ground floor of what may be Temple Bar's most vibrant commercial building: five levels hosting alternative fashion boutiques, a tattoo parlor, a vegetarian café, and a rare-imports record store. SeSi carries independent labels such as London-based Ay and Soo Lee, Irish designer Barbara Burke, and their own in-house designs. The assortment is colorful and youth-oriented, drawing on traditional materials such as wool, tweed, linen, and lace to produce a unique aesthetic of distressed fabrics, unusual material combinations, and heavy dying. The apparel is complemented with a selection of vintage shoes, bags, and a wide range of jewelry.
Dine. Drink.
The Chameleon, 1 Lower Fownes Street, 2, +353 (1) 671 0362
An excellent Indonesian restaurant replete with lounging cushions and an equally relaxed atmosphere—perfect after a day pounding the quarter's cobblestones.
The Porter House, 16-18 Parliament Street, 2, + 353 (1) 671 5715
Sample an array of stout and porter brewed in-house at the city's largest micro-brewery.
Les Frères Jacques, 74 Dame Street, 2, + 353 (1) 6794555
Perhaps the best French restaurant in Dublin. Great belle époque décor and a wide spread of French dishes both national and regional.
Brogan's bar, 75 Dame St., 2, +353 (1) 679 9570
Many consider this one of the most authentic and best kept of Dublin's old-school bars: no music; just the hum of quiet conversation and room-temperature Guinness.
Gallagher's Boxty house, 9 Temple Bar, 2, +353 (1) 677 2762
This café-restaurant elevates the simple Irish potato cake (Boxty) of the pauper's breakfast to gourmet heights, adding frills and developing elaborate, exciting recipes around it.
The Bad Ass Café, 9-11 Crown Alley, 2, + 353 (1) 671 2596
Brash, airy, and hip, BAC has been around since the early days in the mid-'80s (counting Sinead O'Connor as one of its former waitstaff) and has maintained the same middle-finger attitude that prevailed back then. Go for sit-down diner food that's always in style.
One of few areas in Ireland's capital city to preserve its medieval character, the streets of the Temple Bar neighborhood are now an eclectic patchwork of local color, both past and present.

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