Belfast Telegraph

Not to be sneezed at... famous Northern Ireland scenes recreated on silk hankies

By Kate Buck

Some of Northern Ireland's best-known landmarks have been recreated in a range of new silk pocket squares.

Christopher Suitor is producing the accessories based on oil paintings by Belfast artist Stephen Whalley.

Stephen has had paintings of Portballintrae, the Dark Hedges in Ballymoney, the sunset over Belfast Lough from Holywood and the iconic Harland and Wolff cranes turned into "wearable art".

The idea began when Stephen approached Christopher, from Suitor Brothers in Belfast, to have one of his artworks reproduced in silk to be used as the lining of a new jacket.

Stephen said: "I wanted a jacket tailored with my landscapes and painting inside it so I had one of them made into silk and then I wanted a pocket square to match.

"All of a sudden it turned into a pocket square range that I wanted to do of all around Northern Ireland. It's a really good gift for men who can be hard to buy for."

The whale logo on the boxes is symbolic to Stephen as his coat of arms is three whales in homage to his grandfather, a Dunkirk soldier who was one of the last eight men on the beaches before being rescued and brought back to England and then moving to Northern Ireland.

He said he designed the logo to remember his heritage, adding: "I wanted that old dapper gent kind of thing and to give it that heritage feel to the whole brand even though the paintings are contemporary."

While the paintings of Portballintrae and the sunset over Belfast Lough had already been done, Stephen designed the Belfast Cranes and Dark Hedges pieces especially for the accessories.

Christopher, who makes suits for the likes of champion boxer Ryan Burnett and Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea, said: "I am just so happy to be associated with it and to have developed such a thing.

"Stephen had the idea of doing iconic places but where I came in was tapping into the tourist industry.

"They're a little piece of art for your pocket - there's nothing else on the market out there like it.

"You can get plenty of pocket squares that might have paisley designs or prints and there's nothing specific to the country or the area.

"In the very near future we should be seeing some of our celebrities wearing these exact pocket squares."

He added: "As they're so unique looking, if anyone has an eye for tailoring or for men's fashions the first thing they would ask what is on their pocket square. They invoke a conversation just because of how different and quirky they look."

The pocket squares cost £30 each and are available in Suitors Bros, Belfast or at www.stephenwhalley.com

Belfast Telegraph

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