The Creation Group was an Irish company that achieved notable success during the 1960s and 1970s by publishing popular magazines and newspapers like the Farmers Journal, Woman’s Way, Business and Finance, and the Sunday World. But, in its infant years, before the enterprise boom of the 1960s, the company embarked on three ambitious pioneering projects that would help promote and showcase Irish fashion.
First, it launched Creation magazine in 1956. This was a stylish, modern, glossy, and very attractive fashion monthly that featured Irish designers (Irene Gilbert, Sybil Connolly, Raymond Kenna), manufacturers, and suppliers. Printed and published by Creation chief Hugh McLaughlin, the magazine was co-edited by his wife Nuala who did the fashion along with co-editor Uinseann MacEoin who did interiors.
Aimed at the urban middle classes, it deservedly performed well against its overseas competitors and was smarter and fresher than its dated Irish rivals, Irish Tatler and Social and Personal. At two shillings (10p), it cost eight times the price of a daily newspaper. By the time it ceased publishing in 1968, it had paved the way for newer Creation periodicals such as Woman’s Way, Womans’ Choice, and Miss magazine to take over.
The Creation Group then opened Creation House on Grafton Street in 1958. This was a walk-around arcade that had no shops but, quite literally, provided a shop window for Irish fashion to display its wares. The McLaughlins and MacEoin got the idea to have collective displays in glass cases from a visit to Berlin where the arcades were introduced as a necessity while shops were shut during post-war construction. This temporary, make-shift, measure became so popular that the arcades remained a permanent feature in the Kurfürstendamm area.
The decor at Creation House took inspiration from Berlin too. It was modern, elegant, sleek, sophisticated – just like Creation magazine, whose office and photographic studios were conveniently located on the third floor of their Grafton Street building.
Creation House stayed open until eleven at night, it hosted new fashion shows weekly and the displays in the glass cases were changed regularly.
In 1959, Creation extended their property footprint by building 19 new shops at the back of their Grafton Street premises, and in doing so, created Dublin’s first shopping arcade. The Creation Arcade connected Grafton Street with Duke Street, Duke Lane, Lemon Street, and Anne Street through four different entrances.
Shop spaces were small and mainly occupied by boutiques like Colette Modes, Chapeaux, and the Donegal Shop. There was also an art shop, a tailor, a folk record shop, an information bureau, a delicatessen, and a restaurant.
Despite being a phenomenal publishing success for over a decade, Creation Group ran into difficulties and in 1976 the company went into liquidation. The Creation Arcade remained standing but saw many owners come and go before it was eventually demolished in 2013. The Nespresso shop beside Davy Byrnes pub now stands where the Duke St entrance to Creation Arcade once was.
Words: Brian McMahon – Brand New Retro
1 Creation Arcade 1961 photo by R.S Magowan
2 Creation Magazine 1957
3 1966 advert for Chapeux, one of the shops in Creation Arcade