Wednesday, 31 August 2016

I wore Vetements the day my Dog Died

Since I purchased my Vetements hoodie, it hasn't left my body much, aside from when it has been in the wash. However, I haven't worn it for several days now.

The day it arrived, I wore it to work, despite not being the most office-appropriate thing I've ever put on. I paired it with leather leggings and big stompy boots for drinks with good friends. I threw it on over swimsuits after surfing, kayaking and swimming on holidays and wore it on chillier evenings as my family and I sat outside eating dinner overlooking the bay.

And I was wearing it for our last day of holidays when I went to the spa and then hopped in the car for the long drive home. I was wearing it when we got back to the house and I burst into tears upon sight of our dog. Our baby, who we had since I was eleven years old, had lost so much weight in a week that it was grotesque, her eyes were out of focus and she was staggering. We had noticed that old age had been beginning to really hit her for weeks and months beforehand and our cousin who was watching her had said she wasn't drinking very much but this was beyond imagining.

I was wearing the hoodie when we rushed her into the vet, when they put her on a drip and we had to say goodbye to leave her overnight. I was wearing it when my mother told me to be hopeful, that it would be okay. I was wearing it when my father and sister called my brother and I outside the next day and said the treatment wasn't working as well as the vet had hoped and Belle was most likely not going to survive. I was wearing it when we came in to see her and say goodbye. I was wearing it when she was put down and my brother and I lay on the floor next to her and wailed. I was wearing it as she closed her eyes.

And now I don't know if I'll ever be able to wear it again.

I love it so much that I hope I will but garments are more than things we just put on our bodies. They hold memories in a vivid, visceral, physical way that is often hard to move past. Putting them on can feel like slipping back into that moment and that person you used to be. And it can be incredibly painful to do so, even if wounds have long healed and life has long moved on.

I have never again worn the leather skirt I had on when my heart was first broken, despite it being its first outing. The dress I wore to a childhood friend's father's funeral hangs in my wardrobe and, as cute as it is, all I see when I look at it is his face struggling to be brave. To wear it now would seem macabre in some way, or disrespectful, perhaps? I simply cannot separate it from the last time that I wore it and feel that I would spend the entire time it was on my body being utterly aware of that last time.

Similarly, but in a slightly different vein, there are band tees that I have from my teenage years that I cannot throw away but also cannot wear again. I still like the bands and some of the t-shirts are really cool but when I have attempted wearing them in the recent past, it felt too much like being that awkward teen that I have empathy towards, and affection for, but would never wish to go back to being.

Maybe there are enough good memories made in my Vetements hoodie - of long tiring days of fun by the sea, bonding with friends I don't get to see enough and being around my loved ones - that they will counteract the bad. But, even if this is not the case, it is now a garment imbued with some of both the worst and best moments of my life.




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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Heatons AW16

I had kind of wondered what had happened to Heatons. They fell off the press radar for a while there and stopped having shows at the start of the new season for over a year. And then I got an invite to the AW16 showcase from a brand new PR company and with a very different vibe. I guess the company saw the way that Dunnes had rebranded, grown and evolved into something more relevant and on the pulse of things and decided to do the same because everything about the new season is more luxe than ever before.

Heatons have been doing beautiful, affordable homeware for years now and while the clothing collections had cute highlights, the overall vibe was a little dowdy and not so fashion forward. With AW16, they've clearly sought to change that and they've done a damn good job. The overall aesthetic remains a little understated in a way that embraces the older, existing clientele but sprinkles the collection with on-trend statement pieces, pretty party dresses and edgier garments to create something a little more diverse and interesting.

A boho theme runs vaguely throughout much of the collection through pretty details like embroidery, tassels and fringing but the rich palette of burnt oranges, taupes, beiges and browns makes things wearable, Autumn appropriate and a little less costumey than some iterations that we've been seeing on the highstreet. Similarly, 60s tailoring and outerwear and 70s silhouettes and fabric choices are prevalent, as key trends next season, but are adapted in a wearable, non-alienating way that makes the garments easy to integrate into existing wardrobes. Another strand running through the collection is more youthful and streetwear inspired - with pieces like a very solid bomber in two shades and a sporty striped sweaterdress - and, again, while these are very on-trend, they are also perfectly suited to be adopted into the wardrobes of many different individuals.

Heatons have done a really good job with this season in creating something very on the button but also very luxe-feeling and user-friendly that will please new audiences while still embracing loyal customers. It is a savvy, clever, elegant collection and I already have my eye on personal highlights such as the bomber, cape, grey belted coat and the pyjama sets, which are so cute that I would totally adopt them as daytime blouses.
















(Catwalk images by me, campaign images courtesy of Heatons)


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Monday, 15 August 2016

Black & White // Lookbook

I've been playing around with my Instagram lately to make something more interesting and visually cohesive and engaging, which led to my doing blocks of colour. While this is limiting and a pain in the butt sometimes, it challenged me, got my creative juices flowing again and I shot the bulk of my favourite images of the year in the past few weeks. I particularly hit my stride with the images I recently shot in black and white and, somehow, started to dress in the same way I was picturing things. This invariably meant I ended up with lots of cool and striking outfit shots and self-portraits that I didn't have anything to do with as I don't like flooding my Instagram with just images of myself.

Ergo, this black and white lookbook with outfit photos as well as images I drew inspiration from at the time. Think minimal colour, silhouettes, graphics and prints doing the talking, sleek, boyish vibes and a mixture of references from Christian Slater in Heathers to hiphop meets goth.



















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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

REPEAL: Wearing your politics and refusing to be silenced

Just over two weeks ago the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar were forced to remove a mural by famous Irish street artist Maser from their facade. The mural consisted of a simple red heart surrounded in a white border and with bubble text inside that red "Repeal the 8th" and the arts centre were told that this image infringed upon county council planning permission. When it was removed, it had already been up for several weeks and, presumably, was only taken down after complaints were made about it.

For the majority of my readership (now largely outside Ireland), you may be a little confused as to what "the 8th" is and what was so offensive about the message that it required removal. The "8th" is the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1983, an act that was effected after a referendum was held in 1983 which asked Irish people to vote on the State’s abortion laws. It states that "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right." Basically, it means that mothers in Ireland do not have access to abortions or terminations unless their life is directly endangered by a pregnancy.

Since the amendment was brought in, there have been those that opposed it. In the nineties, there was the infamous "X Case" wherein an unnamed Irish teenager fell pregnant after being raped and was planning to seek an abortion in England. This opened up a dialogue about the psychological ramifications of women being forced to carry to term in such circumstances. Invariably, discussions about the problematic nature of the 8th amendment continuously resurface sparking much debate from the pro-life and pro-choice camps.

Yet, the big problem is that the issue seizes the public imagination momentarily before returning to that hush-hush situation, that we don't really talk about or face up to, once the media attention dies down once more. In the meantime, a purported average of nine people a day leave Ireland and seek abortions in the UK. This is also likely to actually be a smaller number than the reality as people do not want to reveal their actions and whereabouts in this situation for fear of social and legal ramifications.

Basically, Ireland is ignoring and exporting a serious problem and has even been condemned by the UN for this.

The reality is, as I see it, that abortions have been sought out for one reason or another since the beginning of time and though the idea of abortions make some uncomfortable, that does not change the fact that they are simply going to happen. Leaving the country for an abortion is a costly, time-consuming and emotionally draining experience and as awful as it is, it is also a luxury that some cannot afford. Such individuals may seek out riskier methods that endanger themselves. Is it not preferable, then, in the face of reality, that they be able to procure an abortion in a nearby and safe setting from which they can immediately return home to comforts and support? Abortion is not something people do on a whim, it is often a difficult choice or, in cases where it is not, it is still and unpleasant and upsetting experience, We should support these people not exile them and pretend that it is not happening, for our own comfort.

Worse still, is the fact that there are plenty of people who do not want to have abortions but find themselves in very unfortunate situations where the pregnancy is not feasible and they are forced to carry to term. Unless the mother's life is deemed to be directly in danger, abortions are not available in Ireland and this has lead to inaction and tragedy, such as in the infamous case of Savita Halappanavar. Both the utter sorrow of  being forced to carry a foetus that will not survive to be the child they want and the danger that must be endured in especially difficult and threatening pregnancies, make no sense whatsoever. A former neighbour of mine was forced to give birth to two children that suffered from the same genetic condition and which she knew early on would not survive. The second time it happened she met my mother on the street and told her and they both wailed in the middle of the road. How can anyone justify that kind of unnecessary pain?

We are the generation of Irish people that chose, for ourselves, to legalise gay marriage. We are a society that is increasingly progressive and varied. It is a new world and I would wager that most Irish people believe men and women to be equal but we are not. Not in many ways but, particularly, in the eyes of the law. Some of us (not all may identify as women but those who can give birth) are equated with a foetus and our lives and choices and feelings do not matter in this country.

Others have been campaigning for this to be changed since before I, or any of my peers, were born but we haven't had a say in the matter. It is time to take the conversation beyond the realm of sympathizers and like-minded friends and to vote once more. It is our right as citizens to have a say in the laws of our country and this law - made when being gay had yet to be decriminalised, divorce had yet to be legalised and over a decade before I was born - does not necessarily reflect the wishes of the Irish population or life in Ireland today.

The pro-life side want to shut us up. Many men around the world want to deny a right that they cannot fathom, that they will never understand or experience for themselves. They will bombard us with ridicule, misinformation, insensitive handling of a very delicate issue and grotesque and graphic materials promoting their side of the argument but when our side of the argument puts up a pretty but very visual reminder to talk about this hidden issue, it is removed. We are effectively shushed.

"What does any of this have to do with a fashion blog?" you might be wondering. It may seem a little off-brand but it is not. My response to being told to shut up in this situation is to rebel. We can't paint a wall so why not brand our opinion across our chest. Be walking billboards. Don't let the issue be buried. Wear your politics.

Repeal Project is a project undertaken by Anna Cosgrave to bring the repeal the 8th movement to a wider audience, to visualise a hidden problem and raise money for the Abortion Rights Campaign in Ireland. At the moment, they sell sweatshirts with the word "repeal" boldly and clearly emblazoned across the chest; white text over a black garment, The result is striking and immediately distinguishable and, chances are, if you have walked around Dublin or other places in Ireland recently, you will have seen one.

I wear mine proudly but I will not say that I wear it easily. Wearing the garment lends a certain sense of camaraderie, you nod at others doing the same and become emboldened and joyous as the numbers that you spot each day rise. I've had a woman cycling past me with her two kids say "I love your jumper" and begin to explain to the two little boys why as I walked on and it made me feel incredibly good. But I've also walked, in that same jumper, past torn up and angrily defaced pro-choice posters and stickers and felt uncomfortable as older people glared at me. When we were all campaigning for marriage equality, I wore my badges and bags proudly but I'm made feel uncomfortable doing the same with my repeal sweatshirt in this climate of shutting down and shutting up.

But I won't stop wearing it. I am angry. I am annoyed. I didn't get my say about my own body. My generation hasn't had their say. I believe in, and am proud of, Ireland. I've seen that we can be better, that we can learn and grow and I believe we can do it again.

Wear your politics across your chest. Don't let them silence us. Let's have another referendum and not accept politicians too worried about their own behinds to give it to us.



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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Photo Post - July 2016

July was a month of realisations, resolutions and change. I had fun, ate good food and spent quality time with people I love, as per, but I also started implementing healthy alterations to my life that were necessary and a long time coming, if I'm honest.

I began the month on a high, at home in my newly tracked down Vetements, sipping on Champagne, getting a haircut and grabbing brunch with my parents and I spent the first Monday of the month eating dinner out with friends and laughing. That week I planned a family getaway for the following weekend with my parents, checked out the Create 2016 display in Brown Thomas and, on Friday evening, got a deep tissue massage. I felt loose and happy but spent the weekend a little tender. The next morning my brother and I went for brunch and I had one of the most bizarre restaurant experiences of my life.

I suggested a Vietnamese place where the food was really great and we strolled along in the sun and grabbed a table outside. Upon sitting down and ordering, we noticed that a four or five year old boy, clearly the son of the owner, was running around. He was super beautiful and cute and we smiled at his antics. Suddenly, he came up to our table and we said hello and asked what his name was. He didn't reply but sat down next to me and tried on my sunglasses. They looked ridiculously big on him, so we laughed again. By now, he was clearly getting comfortable but he was sweet so we entertained him. He stayed by my side as our drinks arrived and asked for a sip of my brother's Fanta, then rested his head on my arm and looked up at me sweetly. When our starters came out, he asked for a chicken wing and I offered him one. Then he took another off the plate without asking. From here, his behaviour started escalating and his mother noticed and began to give out to him but, as we had laughed and encouraged him, we felt bad and didn't want the kid to get in trouble. The other tables started to murmur and notice and we became increasingly uncomfortable. When my main course arrived, he wanted some of that too, so I gave him a little of the beef. He said it was too hot so I blew on it for him. Then he wanted another piece so I did the same but he decided it was still too hot and spat it out on my plate. At this point, I was utterly baffled but could do little else but laugh. He took another piece of beef off my plate with his bare hands and I ended up having to eat while cradling my food to my chest and away from his reach. My brother and I acted a little cooler and pretended not to notice his trying to get our attention, in order to calm the situation. This resulted in his running around and creating lots of noise and his mother dragging him inside. While the food was as good as I remembered and the kid was sweet (just a little bold and clearly without anyone to play with), I felt terrible for suggesting the place to my brother. I saw the funny side of it all and quite like when things go a little wrong, as it makes a day memorable but I know others don't always feel the same way.

The next day was a lot calmer. I skyped with my best friend living in Hong Kong and then went to play board games at a friend's place. The following week was spent having dinner with a pal who lives in England now, getting tea and talking for hours with my best friend, and planning our trip to Galway. On Saturday, we headed off to the west coast and arrived in Galway in the evening. We got to our apartment in Salthill and then strolled into town and had a drink before our dinner reservation. Upon arriving at the restaurant I discovered Bell X1 and another band had just been in, as they were playing at the International Arts Festival, but, crucially, I also learned that they had eaten the last of the pork belly...having ordered my second pick off the menu, I went to the bathroom, where my second restaurant incident of the month took place.

I noticed, as I locked the door, that the lock was a bit dodgy but ignored my intuition (why do I always make this mistake?) and closed it fully. When I tried to unlock it, I noticed that the knob was loose and not turning the bar that slid across to open and close the door. I turned it repeatedly and, at the noise, a girl outside asked me if I was okay. I told her what had happened and she went to ask a waitress for help before returning shortly to say that it was, apparently, common and to keep turning. She left before I could say that wiggling it was not going to solve the problem. After another girl came and went without being much help, I began to get panicky and rang my father to tell him what had happened. Then next thing I knew, my father, brother and the owner were all gathered outside the cubicle, passing me knives under the door and giving me advice on how to jimmy the lock into place. I could see, however, that the bar was knocked out of place and removing it was the only thing that would fix it and kept asking for a screwdriver. My pleas were ignored and my dad even attempted to kick the door in before, finally, a screwdriver was passed under the door to me. I removed the lock and escaped, without succumbing to a panic attack, and walked back into the restaurant with all eyes on me. As I moved through the building with burning cheeks and shaky legs, back towards our table, I realised the worst part of the situation: my traitorous family had eaten all the starters without me.

The rest of the trip was less eventful, but in a good way. It mostly involved eating, wandering around, a little shopping, checking out the Hughie O'Donoghue exhibition and going to a market. That evening, my brother and I splashed around in the water while others looked at us like we were lunatics for braving the cold Atlantic sea on an overcast night, before going to an arcade and earning enough tickets to win a ridiculous stuffed flower toy for our mother. Silly as that all sounds, it was incredibly fun and probably the most pure quality time we've had together in a long time. The next day, we awoke to a Galway that was so sunny, it looked like the Mediterranean. Our apartment overlooked the sea and the water was bluer than I've ever seen. Of course, it was the day we were headed home. Obviously. But we made the most of it, ate more good food, splashed around some more, walked along the beach and visited a craft village in Spiddal before Dad drove me all the way back to my apartment in Dublin...I am a little bit spoiled.

By comparison, the following week was relatively quiet, until the weekend, when I had my first proper swim of the summer; tried out a new afternoon tea and fashion tour package in the Fitzwilliam Hotel with my friend Matthew; then spent a solid 12 hours together, hanging out, eating, grabbing a few drinks, listening to our friend, Tom's, music and talking about everything under the sun. Sunday, I grabbed coffee with another pal before going to my best friend's birthday dinner where I was so hangry I spent most of the evening pouting until I was fed and spent that night being thoroughly embarrassed by my behaviour.

In the final week of the month, on the back of travel, getting back into swimming and a burst of motivation in all aspects of my life, I began organising LFW in September in earnest, eating better and deciding to be more active. And I then spent the final weekend of the month getting up earlyish (for me and for the weekend) to go walking all around Blessington Lake with my bestie, playing racquetball with my family, going to see the new Star Trek film with my siblings and cousin, welcoming my little sister back from Thailand, playing with the Thai makeup she bought for me and hanging out and watching terrible television with my parents.

Once again, the month didn't feel eventful to me until I looked back on it. It was only then that I saw how lucky I was to have a life so filled with joy, laughter, good people, wonderful opportunities and great food. My resolution to get in better shape based on that sudden, mysterious burst of motivation halfway through the month is still going strong and will probably shape this month but the biggest takeaway, now that I think about it, is probably the importance of quality time in life. There's simply no substitute in life for a friend spilling their guts to you and you getting suddenly closer; childlike adventures with a younger sibling who is now very much an adult; hilarious mishaps that make the people around you cry with laughter upon recounting them; traveling with loved ones to see a familiar city in a different way; and simply reconnecting with best friends by making time for each other. The best thing in my life is the people and they constantly remind me why that is very much the case.



























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