Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Season's Must-Have Accessories: A Cheap And Easy Way To Update Your Style

There's something a little different about this AW. Bright colours abound, styling is edgy and cool but preppy pieces are back in a big way thanks to Gucci...It's just a lot of fun ideas. A little like a season for playing dress-up.

A downside, however, is my burning desire for new clothes so I can play along with these cool trends and ideas. I always have to curb my need for new pieces but it's particularly bad right now. And I'm not the only one, it seems. Several friends have admitted that their normal budget and allowances for new clothes have gone right out the window. 

Fear not, though. I've come up with a pretty useful solution: accessories. 

I know, I know. That's not a new idea. Accessories are always a great way to update your look in a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly way but this season, in particular, there are some key items that can completely change and upgrade your wardrobe.

Here are my picks of AW17's must-have accessories.

1. Brooches

A little while ago, I found a couple of brooches that I had gotten in press bags from different jewellery brands. They'd been put away in those same bags for years at this point and I took them out with the intention to give them away, tired of having things I didn't want or wasn't using just lying around and taking up space. 

The truth is, I thought them old-fashioned and fussy until recently and then I realised that I was merely approaching wearing them in an outdated way. Brooches in of themselves aren't old-fashioned. They are actually invaluable this season (particularly pearly ones for that Gucci vibe) and perfect worn on an over-sized mannish blazer to bring a touch of prettiness to it; on a military-style beret to make it softer and more interesting; or pinned to the front of my simple sporty black bum bag when I wear it slung across my chest for a look that's a combination that's a little more compelling and unexpected. Brooches, used correctly, make for modern styling and can make items you already own look more expensive and on trend.

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2.  Pearls

I don't need to say much here. And I know I need to stop talking about Gucci so many times in this one post but, srsly, they've kind of defined the aesthetic that we're seeing everywhere this season and they made pearls happen again. But cooler pearls. More modern pearls. Think pearls where you weren't expecting them - on shoes, pinned to berets etc. - and pearls set in simpler, geometric jewellery, particularly earrings. 

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3. Earrings

I don't buy a lot of jewellery because I simply don't wear it often enough and I have too much as it is. However, I'm having a hard time walking past earring displays atm. There are so many good options; geometric, minimalist, gaudy and gothy, mismatched etc.

Just get some statement earrings and it will totally elevate an otherwise simple outfit; without your having to try too hard. An especially good combo is loosely tied back hair, an over-sized comfy knit, skinnies, ankle boots and a hard-working earring. Mango and Primark, in particular, have some great options at the moment.

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4. Glasses chains on sunglasses

It's already a thing but it's going to be a mainstream thing soon, I certain of it!

Tapping into the re-imagining and restyling of vintage items and trends that we're seeing a lot of, this is something I'm really into and it looks super cool. An easy way to look hipper than you are, without having to do very much.

Pop into any optician and pick up a chain and then add it to some sunglasses, preferably ones with coloured lenses. 

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5. Neckties

Channel your inner Gossip Girl (and Gucci - again, I know!) and invest in a necktie. It works that preppy trend, sure, but paired with clashing prints, it looks really fresh and cool and a lot more expensive than your outfit might actually be. I got this one on ASOS and I'm obsessed. 

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A lot of what is in style this season is a re-imagining of things and can be easily replicated with pieces you probably own already. Just pick up some accessories that are multi-functional, transformative and adaptable like these guys and you won't have to spend an arm and a leg to tap into the coolest things going on in the industry right now!


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Monday, 2 October 2017

Love Letters To Dublin: The National Gallery

There are too many posts that I need and want to write and, yet, here I am. Going off topic. Once again. However, there is a good reason. This is something I've been wanting to do for ages. I wanted to start writing about this city that I adore so much - about her eateries and views and places and people - but I was afraid of going off topic. Of ignoring my "brand".

Well, fuck it. I'm not a brand. I'm a person. And this is my blog.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned how much I love Dublin before. I've lived here for eight years now and I fall more deeply in love every time I look at it. But, then, that's the type of lover and person I am. The more I know - good and bad - the more I love. I love the bones of this city. I love its beautiful sides and ugly sides. I love it all: the streets, the trees, the parks, that special soft light that seems unique to it, the magic winter sunsets, the cawing seagulls, the culture and manageable hustle and bustle, the people, the buildings...

I could go on and on but the point is, this series needed to happen. I felt like I was going crazy, waxing lyrical about this place in my mind ad nauseum but keeping it largely inside. Because, the thing is, many of my peers have a complicated relationship with Dublin and my blind devotion can feel alienating. She has her flaws, that I will admit, and it can feel as though I am choking on a lack of opportunities, at times, and, yet. Yet, I still adore her and I felt the need to share the many reasons why. And as I always sound better on paper than in bumbling person, I thought it might be the way to convince those around me to look again, a little closer or better.

Which brings us to the National Gallery. I feel a special kind of ownership of and bond with the gallery, probably more than the average citizen on the street. As I studied Art History at Trinity College, it was not unusual for me to have classes in the actual gallery. We were neighbours and close ones, at that. The kind that take care of your pets when you go abroad. That close. And, then, at the tail end of my Masters, I began working as a guide at the gallery. I had extra access and spent even more time there: at least one day a week. I came to know many of the staff members, with whom I still chat when I visit now, and the works, on a rather personal level. Some became my favourites and I chose runts of the litter to champion and highlight on my tours. Working there made me a better speaker, more professional and confident. It changed me and I loved it all the more for doing so.

The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the most visited galleries in the world and is stuffed with a collection far richer than such a small country might normally boast. Through fascinating incident after happenstance, we came to have an extraordinarily beautiful building and amazing selection of works. As such, the gallery is also crammed full of anecdotes and charming stories. Like the lost Caravaggio (one of the finest works by his hand) that was discovered in Dublin after disappearing for centuries and donated on permanent loan to the gallery, the Vermeer that is just one of 35 in existence and was stolen twice, and Burton's Meeting On The Turret Stairs (a work I once got to have a ten minute one-on-one stare-off with), which has inspired tears and proposals.

Entrance remains free to the public (though this may need to be reconsidered at some point), it has great opening hours (generally 9.15am to 5.30pm but until 8.30 on Thursday and from 11am to 5.30pm on Sunday) and is housed in a recently reopened and refurbished stunning purpose-built 19th century building (with many later additions, including the lovely modern Millennium Wing). Excellent temporary exhibitions are regularly held that further bolster the incredible collection of the gallery and this year alone there have been major showcases of works by Caravaggio and Vermeer. Other events are held constantly to engage, educate, entertain and involve the public from free tours and talks to drawing classes for kids.

However, the best thing about the gallery has to be the atmosphere. The bright, beautiful spaces are a joy to walk through and it is incredibly wonderful to see how interested the public are; especially since the historic wings reopened this year. In fact, I visited the day that it reopened and couldn't get over how people working in the surrounding area all flooded in after they finished for the day. Everyone was so excited about it. And though I hate crowds, the way the rooms are arranged and the mood the space puts people in makes for the least annoying crowds I have ever seen. It's like there is a concentration of good cheer and good manners in the building. The attendants who walk the rooms are a big part of the experience and add to this atmosphere. They love their jobs (by and large), they love the gallery and the works and they are always happy to share information with tourists or strike up conversations with locals. It truly is a space that inspires good will.

When the historic wing reopened and I visited, I nearly cried. I was so overwhelmed by how good a job had been done and how worth the wait it had been. I was overjoyed that it seemed like others had missed it as much as me and that a space that had been part of what made me the woman I am was so full of life and happiness. I felt thankful that I got to grow up there and it felt like I was being reunited with a childhood friend who had grown up had never really changed. It felt like coming home.

If you are visiting Dublin, the National Gallery is a must-see and, without doubt, one of my favourite places in this truly beautiful city.

National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square W, Dublin 2
https://www.nationalgallery.ie/
(01) 661 5133

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

AW17 Hair Trends with Viviscal

I've raved about Viviscal a lot in the past. Like, A LOT. I credit it for my naturally fine and thin hair suddenly being labelled as thicc by hairdressers as of a couple years ago. Shortly after this blog became a fashion and beauty blog, Viviscal was one of the first beauty brands I started working with. I began a round of their supplements and (now discontinued) serum and my hair was changed forever.

Viviscal quickly became my favourite haircare brand and I work with them frequently. Recently, I came away from an event with more supplements and they went into my samples pile for later perusal. When a good friend told me that she was having trouble with her hair due to stress caused by a very bad work situation, I immediately offered the supplements to her and she, too, came to swear by the brand. And, so, when I was told I could bring a plus one to their latest event, I instantly asked Kim along. It was a fashion showcase of hairstyles taken from AW17 runway shows and one of the best organised and most elegant events that I've been to in a while. 

We arrived at the beautiful event space upstairs in the Cliff Town House, which was flooded with late evening light streaming through the big Georgian windows and grabbed some very pretty pink gin concoctions. Arriving with someone was a nice change for me as I don't mind flying solo at events (I often do or only pop in and out to fit them into my schedule) but can sometimes spend the whole thing watching the door and waiting for someone I know to arrive, while I stand in a corner, stuffing my face. This time I had a partner in stuffing my face!

Then came the actual show, done by the team at Brown Sugar and lead by their founder, Mark O'Keeffe. It featured looks from the AW17 shows of the likes of Chanel, Balmain, Paul & Joe, Jeremy Scott, Versace, Balenciaga and Prada. All of the looks themselves were actually fairly simplistic. However, the health and shine of the hair, however, were more important and the key to their success. There could be no better brand to present them, therefore, than Viviscal.

One of my personal favourites was the Regal Pony, as had been showcased at JW Anderson and Alexander McQueen. A long, sleek and exceptionally equestrian pony that must be neatly slicked back, the Viviscal Densifying Elixir proves to be an essential in its construction as it is perfect for taming fly-aways and smoothing the hair. Another look that caught my eye was a loose mid-length waves hairstyle, that reflected what was seen at Balenciaga, Prada and CĂ©line, among others. Pretty but casual, it is a look that is all about an easy-breezy appeal that is anything but easy achieve for me but probably not so hard for others - heated tools and I don't hang out very often so I'm not very good with them. But, if you have been using or are going to use heat on your hair, Viviscal supplements and products are really useful for maintaining the strength and health of it. Natural hairstyles dominated runways and the best way to have naturally beautiful hair, is to take care of it. 

I often like products but I rarely swear by them, however, I readily swear by Viviscal. It really, really works and while trends come and go, healthy hair is always stylish. Check out the pictures below for AW17 hairstyle inspiration but check out Viviscal's range of products for better hair x

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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Meeting the Designers Behind Cult Fashion Brand RIXO London At Brown Thomas

RIXO London is a young brand that has managed to already develop a fevered following and seems to have a knack for quickly capturing new fans with a single garment. So much so, in fact, that when Irish stylist Courtney Smith posted a photograph of herself wearing one of their dresses on Instagram it almost instantaneously sold out.

That was my personal introduction to the brand and I recall thinking that it was a beautiful dress but not something that suited tomboyish types like myself. I thought, "I sometimes wish I was that girl." But it turns out I was wrong. I am that girl, if I want to be, because RIXO have the everywoman in mind. They are all about creating cool, vintage-inspired clothes that flatter and work for all sorts of different women. Garments can be worn different ways and combined with other pieces in your wardrobe to make them very much your own; a wrap dress, for example, can be worn solo with daring slits, or open as a wafting robe, or over jeans for a cool layered look. RIXO's woman is not one single target demographic but, rather, all sorts of gals of different ages, shapes and lifestyles. While you will see the brand touted by the coolest It Girls of Instagram, they, alone, are not the only ones who can enjoy the brand.

RIXO was founded in 2015 by London College of Fashion alumni Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky who, at the time, were buyers for ASOS. The two met while they were in college and quickly bonded over a shared love of vintage clothing. They found themselves spending most weekends together, trawling through vintage sales around the UK and unearthing gems. Others professed a love for their finds and they began reselling clothes online. When they found customers despairing that everything was a once-off and gone when it was gone, they got the idea to start their own vintage-inspired label.

Since its beginnings two years ago, the brand has seen a meteoric rise and is now stocked in Net-a-Porter and many boutiques around the world, including our very own Brown Thomas; which is where I got to see them discuss their label, its origins, rise and motivations, a couple of weeks ago. Irish-born McClosky, in particular, professed to have been touched to see her own clothes stocked in the Irish fashion powerhouse and informed us that they even made a limited print that is only available in BT.

A love of pattern is key to the brand and the two designers often create their own prints, reimagining their popular silhouettes - including the Moss Blouse, Camellia Dress & Orlagh Blouse - season after season by reproducing them in different prints. Another core value that they stressed is the use of high-quality fabrics and the wonderful construction of the clothes. While these are not actually vintage pieces, they are made to ape the quality of old: they are made to last. And though the price point is a good deal higher than your standard high street pieces, it is not unattainable, providing investment pieces that will never truly go out of style. The pair really do consider how women dress and shop and how to make pieces that will be true assets to a wardrobe.

It's hard to balance cool, sexy and timeless in a brand but, somehow, RIXO are doing it and doing it well. I'm pretty excited about their attitudes to design and consumption and the garments themselves and really can't wait to see what they do next. And it really seems that the sky's the limit with further forays into accessories already in the pipeline.

Thanks to Irish Tatler for the wonderful morning of lovely clothes and people x

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Monday, 28 August 2017

Brunch With Kilkenny And New Irish Design For AW17

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to brunch at Residence with Kilkenny to view their AW17 collections. As I love brunch and have fond childhood memories of Kilkenny, I was pretty excited. When I realised I was sitting with editors from some of my favourite Irish magazines and a blogger I had interacted with before but had never met IRL, I was even more excited. Our table was completed with one of the brand's buyers who explained all about their choices and ideas during the show, which was excellent, giving us a really insight into where Kilkenny is going.

Kilkenny is known for their occasionwear and has been a stalwart provider of outfits for stylish Irish women in a slightly older age bracket. Moving forward, they are aiming to keep these loyal, and discerning, customers happy, while also targeting a younger audience and more day-to-day needs. Two new casual brands Beaumont and 10 Feet (available in Galway and Swords only) have been introduced and while Kilkenny showed picks from Fossil and Guess, they reaffirmed their constant commitment to Irish design with pieces from the likes of Fee G and Caroline Kilkenny.

When it comes to the actual look that Kilkenny are all about this season, there's good news: it;s cute and cosy. Seventies florals and bold colours from hot pink to bottle green to maroon abounded and layering with stylish jackets, casually tossed scarves and light knits was key. For special events, there was a nice sprinkle of some structured, interesting alternatives to the standard dresses that were also shown, such as the maroon belted jumpsuit that everyone was swooning over. With pieces to appeal to all sorts of age groups, styles and lifestyles, there really is something for everyone now. Would I have liked some slightly bolder and more surprising aesthetic choices thrown in there? Sure. But, for now, Kilkenny is striding into the future in a way that I can totally get behind.

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