Dublin: A vintage city

I recently went on a trail around Dublin’s streets  to visit some of its best vintage stores and to chat to their style loving owners. I documented my journey on Instagram. Here’s some of the images and musings I got from my trip around Dublin’s cobbled streets. Visit my Instagram @clairefoxwrites for more images from Dublin’s vintage stores!

Siopaella

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Lucy’s Lounge

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Carousel

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OM Diva

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Folkster

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An Autumn/Winter’s Tale

  

autumn

Hair:

Ever since the resurgence in popularity of choke-chains and preppy mini-skirts in 2013, 90’s trends have become a staple feature of Autumn/Winter wardrobes, with 90’s hair trends currently experiencing what we call a ‘moment’ in fashion.  Double buns and messy hairstyles add funkiness to demure winter outfits and are the perfect partners for thigh- high boots and long trench coats. While balayage is typically a summer trend, two-toned hair brightens up most winter looks and is a welcome counterpart to chestnut brown and raven colour styles. Straight hair is also making a comeback this season thanks to models, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner’s straight-laced locks, however for those of us with naturally wind-swept hair, volume never goes astray, especially in winter months. If the weather ups its volume, surely we can too!

Continue reading “An Autumn/Winter’s Tale”

Video Didn’t Kill The Fashion Star

I discuss how music videos have become the ultimate source for style inspiration in the last three decades.

Each year designers, models, bloggers and overall fashionistas flock to the most fashionable cities in the world to cast their eyes upon the latest trends set to take the fashion world by storm.  I’m guessing as cash-strapped students that most of us haven’t had the luck to attend one of these illustrious catwalk events. However, in reality the biggest catwalk extravaganza on the planet doesn’t take place in some fancy ballroom in London or under the neon lights of New York. Neither does it occur on the runway of some Marc Jacobs show or in between the glossy pages of Vogue. It occurs on our TV screens, on Youtube, in our own living rooms. I’m talking about the Music Video which, in the last thirty years, has become the most influential catwalk of all .

While David Bowie and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, wowed us with their wonderful and somewhat wacky fashion choices in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Madonna’s manufactured videos stirred numerous fashion revolutions during this period. Her smash hit Vogue not only found itself sitting at the top of charts worldwide, but the empowering outfits featured in the video found themselves sitting in wardrobes of the masses. The enthralling video which displays males strutting their stuff in crisp tuxedos inspired men all over the world to invest in a clean, cut suit perfect for all occasions. A suit was no longer seen as a luxury for James Bond, but an ultimate wardrobe winner. Madonna’s mega-video likewise inspired ladies across the globe to embrace power dressing. The Queen of Pop’s black, shoulder padded pants suit combination initiated a universal fashion uprising. Androgynous shoulder pads and collar-clad shirts became the staple pieces for modern women throughout the nineties.

Twenty Years after Madonna rocked our wardrobes, her predecessor Lady Gaga became a poster girl for designers everywhere with the massive music video for her stellar tune Bad Romance. The video, which boasts everything from thriller-type dance moves to flaming fire effects, is famous for its fantastic outfits. In many ways it is almost a full-blown advertisement for Alexander McQueen whose pieces take pride of place throughout the video.   While the video itself tracks how Gaga surrenders herself to the sinister forces of the music industry, outfits such as an entrancing gothic bikini and a metallic, 3D-esque, disco dress inspired people all over the world to take more fashion risks and not to just follow the crowd.

In 2014 hip hop diva Iggy Azalea took the concept of the music video as a catwalk to another level with her slick single Fancy. The video which is a spoof on the 1990’s movie Clueless has led to the resurgence in popularity of preppy clothing ,such as blazers and brogues , allowing us to unleash our inner ‘90’s chick’. While Azalea’s black and yellow, checked skirt and blazer combination is undoubtedly the most outstanding outfit in the video, her LBD and choke chain ensemble that is featured at the Christmas party at the end is also a stellar look. This autumn, has seen the revitalisation of the choke-chain trend thanks to Miss Azalea. Topshop stock a range of these neck jewels in a variety of colours and designs and they have the instantaneous effect of giving a simple LBD an edgy lift.

The music video, like fashion, has become an artform in the last three decades. While some critics believe music videos are another means of self-promotion in our materialistic world, in reality they are a haven for creativity and where outlandish style can showcase itself! While video may have killed the radio star, it has certainly had the opposite influence on fashion!

Supermodel Me

I investigates whether the supermodel has become a distinct species.

The age of the Supermodel is over, dead and buried. Ten years ago, most critics in the world of fashion would have given a reluctant nod of agreement to my opening sentence. Household supermodels, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were still considered runway royalty, even though their heyday had long since passed and although Victoria Secret sensation Gisele Bundchen was dubbed a supermodel, her lack of allure when compared to the Big-Six of the 1980s and 1990’s took the “super” out of her model status.

However, in more recent years there has been a turnaround, with a new-batch of beautiful faces rising to the challenge to take the catwalk crown. Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and even Kendall Jenner, of the Kardashian Clan (whether rightly or wrongly so) have been given the title of “supermodel” by the media. But are they really supermodels? Do they correspond to the construct that was created for them in past or are they paving their own way? And the biggest question of all what is a supermodel anyway?

While former Sports-Illustrated and Harper’s Bazaar, cover girl, Janice Dickinson, has continually claimed that she coined the term “supermodel” in the 1970’s, in reality it had been in existence long before then. For most, the world’s first supermodel was the gamine and waifish, Londoner nicknamed “Twiggy”. Her signature eyeliner flick, thin frame and cropped androgynous hair-cut won the hearts of the entire globe. In 1967, The New York Times, attributed the title of supermodel to Twiggy, while Glamour did so the following year. At 5 ft 6, Twiggy was by no means of exceptionally tall stature, so whether she would have succeeded as a supermodel by today’s standards is certainly questionable, with most catwalk queens towering at 5 ft 9 at the very least.

English beauties Twiggy and Jane Shrimpton laid the foundations of supermodel status for a new wave of model wonders who would storm their way into the 1980s and 90s. This was undoubtedly the Golden Age of the Supermodel. Cindy Crawford’s alluring beauty mark allowed her to earn up to $800,000 for a single photo-shoot, while Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell and the later addition of Kate Moss, completed the “Big Six” supermodel squad. Kate Moss’s ability to pull-off garage grunge just as successfully as simple elegance made her a winning contrast to the demure and sultry Campbell, their difference complementing each other.

The noughties did nothing to foster the emergence of new supermodels. With actresses and TV stars fronting beauty campaigns and magazine covers, the demand for supermodels waned. Although, Georgia-May Jagger, famed for her gapped-grin and red-lipstick, was the face of Rimmel and Rosie-Huntington-Whiteley featured widely, they lacked the sheer supremacy that a true supermodel needs to possess. Schiffer and Crawford declared that the time of supermodels was over and that they “had lived through it”.  However, just as the world seemed ready to resign supermodels to bygone days, a new crop of beguiling beauties strutted onto the scene.

The 2012 London Olympics was a perfect time for Cara Delevingne to parade her modelling prowess alongside household names Campbell and Moss. Fresh from a successful Burberry Campaign, Delevingne became the face of DKNY and Yves Saint Laurent. Meanwhile, American Karlie Kloss’ sleek demeanour has allowed her become the muse of Jean-Paul Gaultier. While in recent months Kendall Jenner has worked the runways of London and Paris Fashion Weeks, it remains to be seen whether she is deserved of the title of supermodel. Has her infamous family status been the reason for her rise in the haute couture sector or has it been for her own modelling merit?

The fashion archives will tell us whether these contemporary faces made the cut as supermodels. For many, becoming a supermodel is all about luck, but in reality it is all about attitude. You don’t have to be the most beautiful girl in the world to lead the pack at a Chanel show. Attitude, confidence and originality have been the winning qualities of supermodels past and present. And if you possess these qualities, according to Jean-Paul Gaultier, you have the ability to “advance fashion by ten years”. No pressure then Kendall!

Never Go Out Of Style- Stylist Courtney Smith Interview

I catch up with top Irish stylist, Courtney Smith on  St Patrick’s Day

“I’m a people watcher”, says Courtney Smith, international stylist hailing from the picturesque coastal town of Malahide, South Dublin. While her affection for people watching may suggest she is some kind of stalker, for Ms Smith the only thing worth stalking in life is style. “Even at New York Fashion Week I love sitting in café’s and seeing what people are wearing, discovering new trends and things like that. My style has always been quite bohemian so I love fringing and people like Nicole Richie, Kate Bosworth and the Olsen Twins”

While Courtney views these red-carpet celebrities as her style inspirations, the bubbly Dubliner is fast-becoming a style icon in her own right. Having been a cult follower of fashion from a young age, Courtney went on to study design after school and travelled to London to complete a post-graduate course in styling in the prestigious London College of Fashion.

“I guess if you ask my parents I was always really interested in fashion from a young age. I’d be cutting up patches of material and things like that”, laughs the fashionista “I studied design in Ireland and then did a post-grad in London which was a huge learning curve for me. Being away from friends and family makes it difficult to cope but I certainly enjoyed it. Back then there were much less styling courses in Ireland so I had no choice but to go to London and study styling”

At the age of 21 Courtney began working as a professional stylist in London, styling high-profile clients from Leona Lewis to Amy Winehouse. Being thrown in at the deep-end at such a young age is where Courtney credits she learned her craft. Having to deal with a range of personalities with different style tastes can be a challenge, but working for a set brand makes this task easier.

“I styled a lot of people in London and I was working for a brand which was quite funky so the clients obviously liked the clothes. Amy Winehouse was with us for a bit but then left, I couriered her a lot of items. I also styled Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud” says Courtney modestly

Having completed successful campaigns for Newbridge Silverware starring Amy Huberman and most recently, Roz Purcell in the promotion of their eShe jewellery line, Courtney declares that she is more at home with magazine shoots as they provide her with room to experiment.

“I usually prefer styling for magazine editorials and photoshoots because there is more freedom. The type of clothes used in commercial shoots are much different to clothes used in magazine shoots”, says Courtney who’s work regularly appears on the glossy pages of The Sunday Independent’s, Life Magazine.  “Even the styles I create on TV3 for Xpose are a lot different to magazine shoots. Xpose is a commercial show watched by a commercial audience, so that has to be taken into account”

Courtney now spends the majority of her time working in Ireland, despite travelling to London on a regular basis to look after international clients. For Courtney there is a clear difference in the British and Irish fashion industries, with the most major difference of all being size.

“Ireland is a lot smaller than the UK and I think we are always a little bit behind on the trends, maybe just by a few months. Also we don’t have as big a budget, so we encounter problems like that and there just aren’t as many fashion magazines to do big photoshoots and editorials for”

Like many people working in the Irish Fashion industry, Smith is acutely aware of how important it is to support Irish designers and home-grown magazines in order to allow the sector to flourish.

“I had a ticket for a really big show at New York Fashion Week but I chose to go to an Irish designer obviously because they are Irish and we need to support that. Even at London Fashion Week, Paul Costello has been there for many years and Simone Rocha is showcasing her stuff. John Rocha doesn’t have his show anymore, but I always used to go to that. So it is extremely important I think. Many designers have made it in the UK and internationally which is great for them and the industry”

Although Courtney is now Ireland’s top stylist and highly acclaimed internationally, her success is the result of years of hard work. While upon her return to Ireland, Smith was offered positions in retail, she didn’t take them, knowing that styling was her true calling. “It was the start of the recession and my Mum thought I was mad for not taking these jobs but I knew styling was what I wanted to do. I started writing for a blog which at the time was quite big, it was called wow.ie, they paid me and that tipped me over while I was waiting for more gigs to come. It took a long time, but perseverance is the key if it’s what you really want to do, it will happen, but not overnight”

As my conversation with one of the world’s most vibrant fashion names comes to a close, I grab my chance to quiz Courtney about her style tips for the summer season ahead. “White and tan seems to be a big trend actually which isn’t great for those of us with pale skin because it means we’ll have to be putting on the fake tan. Fringing, pastels, lace… there really seems to be an L.A summer vibe going on for the summer which is great”

Eau My God

Last Christmas I questioned whether perfume adverts personify the true scent of a woman.

After whiling the weeks away watching festive filled films and corny Christmas Specials, it’s safe to say I’ve had my share of the small screen for 2015 already. This intense seasonal viewing meant my eyes were exposed to a hoard of advertisements about alcohol, furniture and even Claudia Schiffer boasting the brilliance of German motor engineering. But it was the plethora of perfume ads that diffused across my TV screen that made me reflect just long enough not to switch over to TV3. While on many occasion the sheer romance and style incorporated into the ads lit up my heart, more often than not, I was struck by the materialistic and erotic nature either masked or blatant throughout these mini-films. Could the scents that are supposedly the epitome of femininity actually be demeaning women even further?

In a crowded catalogue of advertisements for eau de parfum’s and eau de toilettes (apparently there is a difference between the two), the key for any perfumery is to garner the audience’s attention as quickly as possible. Since there is no way for viewers to physically smell the odour of the specific perfume, companies must do their best to sell the brand and world that the perfume emulates.  What better way to do this than to paint an illustrious image of wealth, fame and fortune to entice the viewer? For me this is most prominent in the advert for Paco Rabanne promoting their supposed “feminine fragrance” Lady Million. The message this advert sends us is that all women need to feel womanly is money, stardom and male attention. Is this really a lesson that the perfume industry should be teaching women?

But should we really be surprised when it comes to the misdemeanour that occurs in the promotional campaigns for perfumes? Most perfumes are products of the world’s most influential fashion houses such as Chanel and Dior, thus inheriting and representing the problems of the fashion industry as a whole. Take Marc Jacobs’ 2011 advertisement for his perfume “Oh Lola” in 2009, starring the then 17 year old, Dakota Fanning. This advertisement which pictured Fanning clad in a pink doll-like dress with a  bottle of perfume situated between her upper thighs sparked severe controversy for its  alleged sexualisation of minors and was eventually banned due to the series of complaints which ensued. Whatever side of the debate you are on it is clear that the fashion industry needs to question how they would like their brand to be represented in the 21st Century. The age old adage of “Sex Sells” is just getting old.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of perfumery promotion, with many adverts proving that the allure of style and grace is the sweetest smelling of all. Dior’s 2014 “J’adore” advertisement starring Charlize Theron celebrates female strength, while Lancome’s 2012 ad for their scent “La Vie est belle” shows Julia Roberts as a shining light, breaking the glass ceiling in a world where women are chained to their duties and shackled to their partners. For me though Chanel are always winners when it comes to their adverts. Whether it’s Keira Knightley riding on her motorbike through the streets of  Paris for Coco Mademoseille or the romantic love story of Audrey Tatou for Chanel No. 5, they get it right every time. They truly understand what women want, most visible in Brad Pitt fronting their 2012 Chanel No. 5 campaign, in an understated ad, without all the flashy festivities which other adverts feel the need to produce.

With Dolce and Gabanna hiring Hollywood stalwart Martin Scorcese to direct their advert for “The One” fragrance and companies like Calvin Klein spending up to $6 million on their perfume campaigns, it’s obvious that companies need to find original ways to market their scents in order to win customers. But since when does original mean promoting excessive materialism and the degradation of women? While we all enjoy escaping into the Wonderland-like world which these adverts promote, even Alice smelled the roses in time to decamp the distorted world and face up to reality, maybe it’s time perfume manufacturers did the same?

Lots of Love for Lottie- Lottie Ryan Interview

I speak with radio presenter, Lottie Ryan about women in the media, working in the States and how she will always be proud of being Gerry Ryan’s daughter.

Radio presenter, dancer, columnist, blogger and fearless fashionista. Over the years Lottie Ryan, has managed to clock up a rather colourful career, a remarkable feat considering she is still only 27. Having worked as a showbiz reporter in RTE for numerous years, the brunette now reigns supreme over her very own radio show, The Early Early Breakfast Show, which airs on 2fm each weekend. The show which she fondly refers to as her “little baby” has been a huge learning experience for Lottie as up until this point she had never been solely responsible for anchoring a programme.

“It’s a huge learning curve for me, to train because I’m in there by myself. A lot of the stuff I would have done in the years leading up to the show when I was doing contributor work meant I would never be running the desks or the technical side of things” says Lottie in her polished Dublin accent, contrasting hugely to my North County Cork murmurings.

While Lottie is now lucky enough to be at the helm of her own show, this can’t be said for all female broadcasters, with the radio business in Ireland generally being labelled as a “Men Only” club. However, while the figures may prove this theory true, Lottie believes that the tide is turning in favour of women in the industry.

“I think there used to be a stigma attached to it, but that’s beginning to change”, begins Lottie. “There are some incredible female broadcasters to admire. Claire Byrne is an incredible broadcaster, closer to home for me Jenny Greene, Marian Finnucane and Ciara King is a fantastic new talent. We are coming up in the ranks and there’s much more even distribution than there used to be”

Radio, although, it was something Lottie had admired, it was not always her prime passion in life. Training as a dancer throughout her childhood and teenage years, Lottie never considered working in the media as a viable career until commencing her college education.

“It was only really when I started in college in Coláiste Dúlaigh that I got into it. I spent three years there doing a media production course where you study television and radio and then I did two years in Griffith to finish out the degree, which was much more journalism based. Over the 5 years I developed a love and a passion for the industry. It all blossomed from there and it was really my college years that refined it for me I suppose”

However, while college may have provided Lottie with the knowledge to survive the rocky sea that is the world of the media, her work as an intern on the set of hit US series, The Goodwife, gave her the skills to thrive in the storm. The sheer difference in work ethic between Ireland and our Atlantic Ocean neighbours was a huge eye-opener for Lottie, as a budding journalist.

“I think I learned more in the months that I worked on The Good Wife than I did in my five years that I spent in college. They work very differently than to how we work over here. We’re a lot more lenient here, we have respectable working hours. But over there they eat sleep and breathe their work; it’s really intense. That is the only way to learn I suppose”

Considering Lottie is still so young and has conquered so much in her short career, I ask her would she ever move abroad to work again? Reflecting on the question for a mere moment, Lottie is practical in her approach.

“I’d never say no, I’m very very happy at the moment. I’m not silly though if the opportunity presents itself, you should never close doors. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I’ll always be open to travel, I’m still in my 20s, but for the moment I’m very happy where I am”

Satisfied with her amiable answer, the conversation shifts towards the inevitable subject that is her deceased father, and former broadcaster Gerry Ryan.  According to Lottie, her father “never encouraged or discouraged” her decision to enter the fickle world of broadcasting, preferring to support whatever made his children happy. With many critics constantly referring to Lottie’s famous paternity, I ask Lottie does this ever come as a burden to her own broadcasting work?

“No, it doesn’t annoy me, I am who I am. I’m incredibly proud of my dad and I’m blessed to share his name and it will never be something that I’ll want to shy away from, but obviously, I mean at this stage in my career, I first, and foremost want to be recognised for the work that I do and the broadcaster I am. While I am incredibly proud of him and in awe of his work, I’d like to be recognised for myself”

While Lottie’s famous father was and is still a huge inspiration for the 27 year old, her mother, Morah Brennan, is also a huge role model for Lottie, especially when it comes to the style stakes. Her mother’s “unique sense of self” is obviously something that Lottie herself has inherited. Shying away from trends and catwalk conventions, Lottie moves on to giving me her most trusted beauty tip.“Always, no matter how late it is, or how many drinks you’ve had, take your make-up off!”

Finally, while Lottie lets us in on her top beauty secret, she concludes our interview with some goldust advice on how to succeed in the media or in any walk of life.

“You have to really need to do it, it can’t just be a want .You have to really feel like it’s something you need to fulfil yourself. It has to be something you need to do for yourself, a passion inside of you” states Lottie “You have to fee like it’s your calling in life because there is 100 people who will want your job. It’s a tough job, but once you believe in yourself and have perseverance and keep going at it, anything is possible and anybody can achieve what they want”