Co Down designer Sara Hall's A/W Ready-to-Wear collection of luxury tweed capes and coats has just featured in Vogue. Beloved by A-listers and supermodels, Helen Carson takes a sneak peek at the latest offerings in the Sands & Hall line-up.
She's the Northern Ireland-born designer who creates stylish capes in classic tweed which are coveted by some of the best-dressed women in the world - including Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Olivia Palermo, but Sara Hall's family heritage is in music, having been born into the famous Sands family.
And just like making music was natural to the Mayobridge clan, designing is in the blood for Sara (35, above), who sketched out the shape of her first formal dress as a schoolgirl. Afterwards, though, she buried her creative streak in a successful public relations career in Belfast, Dublin and Canada - before returning to her first love - fashion.
She started making classic capes from designer leftovers - and not your average sewing-room floor scraps, but Harris Tweed from fashion houses in Paris and Milan.
She says: "I grew up wearing Harris Tweed jackets; I even had one when I was at Ulster University. It's so durable and quite retro, which I like."
Sara spent some time living in Canada in 2010, where she met her South African husband and business partner David Hall, and it was as a stay-at-home mum to the couple's first child, Arianna, that she decided to make capes for children. Having bought the then toddler one, she couldn't find the next size up so began making them herself.
And the idea quickly became a successful business with the baby capes a sell-out. Sands & Hall was established in 2015 by Sara and David via Facebook, growing almost overnight into a sought after, 'go to' label for luxurious, tweed capes. The focus to date has been on designing and producing ready-to-wear capes in fine Irish and British tweeds and cashmeres for women and men, trailblazing the ongoing trend for the garment and creating pieces that reflect Sands & Hall's key values of luxury, versatility and timeless elegance. She says: "I really want to modernise tweed and bring it back into fashion, and doing what you really love in life is amazing."
The decision to specialise in capes was simple; both Sara and David believe in the transformative quality of the cape and its ability to keep wearers warm, on-trend and well presented.
She adds: "We feel that capes really are the new coat. Capes are timeless and highly versatile; they are perfect for layering up all year round and offer a more unique, individual look where outerwear is concerned. This for us is the essence of what we are here for."