Through my eyes

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I wrote previously that I’d bring to you an article on the Emission Zero Fashion Show through my eyes and after two weeks here it is…

Being fashion director of a show entails a huge amount of organising. For this particular show the  focus was on sustainable fashion so having Eco friendly designers was a must. The months leading up to the show consisted of the following: researching designers Eco Credentials and selecting appropriate designers, sourcing models, visiting hair salons to chose hair stylists, picking the perfect make-up artists, basically spending many days going to meetings, hours on the phone to chatty designers and all the rest. Preparations got underway many months ago after meeting with Conor O’Rian and Ciara O’Connor of Emission Zero.

I think organising an event like this may be the same idea as giving birth. You spend months getting organised, it gets very stressful and emotional. It gets so difficult and then right at the point of birth it is so intense and horrificly painful but then this amazing wonderful event occurs, and suddenly you don’t remember the pain it caused you and you’d do it all over again!!

Horrifically painful may be slightly dramatic. It was stressful and intense but also a real eye opener and very rewarding.

The show was an incredible success.The idea was to show a more sustainable way of fashion and that was welcomed with open arms to the 500 guests. They were shown that fashion can be incredibly slick and stylish while being Eco friendly too.

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So how did the day itself go?

My phone has woken me every morning with either a text or phone call from a designer, organiser, or model in the run up to the show. The morning of the show was no different.

The director of the hair academy who was doing the hair for the show called enquiring about putting information into our show’s brochure last minute. After a few phone calls this was sorted and I was good to get on the road.

I never went to bed the night before the show. I knew I wouldn’t many weeks before. I’d either be too excited or just have things to do. For the show we’d decided to have a best dressed competition, I had offered to make three bags that we would fill with goodies for the winners. So the night before the show I made these beautiful bags. Once it got to about 6am I thought going to bed would be pointless so I added the last few touches to the show days running order and sent it out to the organisers involved with the show.

Then it was time to have my echinatia. I had gotten quite run down due to lack of sleep in the weeks coming up to the big day so I needed all the help I could get! Echinacea was terrific!

I arrived at 9:30am to the hair salon. I had chosen this particular salon to do the models hair and this, I think was a little thank you. I had my hair injected with a booster of Celtic Red. I nodded off for about ten minutes while my head was massaged. The bubbly stylist asked  if I was stressed, I told her, ‘I’m too sleep deprived to be stressed’! I also explained that I was so prepared and on top of things I had no stress.

Suddenly I was brought to the stylists station and introduced to Miss stress about 3 minutes later. The stress kicked in like a mo fo. And what was the cause? The stylist doing my hair was PAINFULLY slow. First they decided to put rollers in, so off she started.

She only had half a head of rollers in and it was already 11am. I enquired would I be there much longer? The stylist said about 40 minutes. I knew then I’d actually be at least 60 more minutes. I explained I didn’t have time for this. I had allowed the hour and a half I was told it would take to do my hair and that was already up. So she pulled the rollers out and decided on doing a curly blow dry, which would take twenty minutes. The 20 minutes came and went. Then another stylist came along and joined in, ten more minutes passed. By this stage, I was biting down on my pen so hard that it was hurting my teeth,ink was threatening to burst all over my gums and the stress was beginning to show on my face.

The worst part of the slow salon experience was the fact the hair stylist forgot to bring me the coffee she’d asked if I’d wanted…of all mornings!

In the end, I had to dramatically leave. My assistant for the day, the wonderful Kate, was waiting outside to drive me to collect rails for the show. Half my head wet, I stood up..’Can you not wait 5 more minutes?”.”No I’m sorry I have to go”.  So like a diva  off I went out of the salon. I tied the stupid looking head of half wet, half curly blow dry hair up in a pony and cursed the stylist out of it!

This was how it was supposed to look, like how they had done it before..

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….this was how it ended up on the day!!! Thrown up in a high pony!

 The drive to collect rails was speedy, thanks to the nifty Kate. Quick chat, rails collected and dismantled into the car and off to the venue. I received a call en route that models had arrived. Already? Twenty minutes early? I thought to myself you know what, call times are there for a reason, why are people early? I like people to be there at the exact time. Altough I was happy they weren’t late.

I arrived at Lillie’s Bordello and said hello to the group of models who had eagerly gathered. Designers started to stream in through the doors and the whole venue began filling up quickly. There were brief chats with Cara here and there. We put the beautiful gifts for best dressed into the handmade bags. Gorgeous products from The Body Shop and Lush were the fabulous gifts.

I explained to the models how the day would pan out and checked them all in. I brought them upstairs to the library of Lillie’s where many a star frequents in the early hours of the morning to sip on champagne and enjoy the exclusive surroundings.  A few were yet to arrive, so last minute fittings began for those who were there.

Next up was the practice walk through. We had done one the week previous but since then I had changed some of the models so it was important to do another one. It was difficult dealing with 19 different models. 14 from one agency, three male and two independent models. Some spoke poor English so explaining certain things was a little difficult. In fact two  models showed up with the same name. One was meant to be there, one wasn’t. Both with the same unusual name of Raluca. Seriously? I thought this second Raluca model was joking.

The day went along according to my plan. After the walk through it was on to hair and make-up. There were little things that went slightly different to how I’d imagined but nothing major. As  fashion director you need to be ready to deal with anything that may wreck your head, from the designer who thinks they are better than all the other designers to models asking questions like ;

‘I have no shoes what will I do?’. Really? You have no shoes? How do you leave the house without shoes?

‘I can’t find my name on any of the rails of clothes? What am I supposed to wear?’.                                     (maybe you shouldn’t be here random model who just showed up after hearing about the show!)

A couple of times I found myself having to be, lets say, firm with people. Like to the designer who wanted to get her make-up done by the shows make-up artist, before the models! Really? No the make-up artists priority, is the models, if she has time afterwards she can do your make-up. It was crystal clear who had done a show before and who hadn’t.

I found time to change into a more glamorous outfit by late afternoon and took out the pony which revealed a not so bad hair do. I got many compliments on the night for the outfit. Of course I chose to be Eco Friendly for the fashion show. Style Angel would do no less. I wore a three piece vintage number.  A mid length skirt, sleeveless top and cardie (which I didn’t leave on as it was roasting with the strong lights). The piece’s were handmade by my Great Aunt Betty. She wore it back in her hey day, over seventy years ago. She died back in 2004 and I know she would be thrilled that I wore it and got so many compliments in it. This is her below wearing it back in 1984 with her comedian husband Billy Hodes.

 

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By the time I’d made my quick change, the models were  finished in hair and make-up and it was time to get them into their first pieces.

The next stress of the day was a model freaking out about what she was to wear with the gold hot pants that were on her rail. Off I went to find out. The gold hotpants (amazing! Kylie eat your heart out) were designed by Deirdre Mahon. She is heavily pregnant, so she was watching the show like a regular guest on the night out front. I went out to find her in the main bar of Lillies.

What a sight. It was rammed with people. And the style! I couldn’t have been happier. Everything going well backstage, running on time, everyone was where they should be, the place was full of people smiling and chatting, sipping on the complimentary mojitos. Cici Kavangh of Fade Street, was on the decks and everyone was in fine form.

 

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Before I could find Deirdre I saw a few friends and family and went to say a quick hello. I greeted them with a big smile, but suddenly felt my mothers vacancy. It was nearly the first question out of my mouth, ”Where’s my Mam?”.

This was the hardest part of the night. ”She couldn’t make it, your Uncle has taken a bad turn and she has gone to be with him.” My heart sank. On so many levels I felt crushed. I suddenly realised that if my Mam was with him it had to have been really bad.

My Mam had been hearing me talk about the show for months. The outfit she had bought for it was so stylish and she’d looked beautiful when she tried it on for me. I couldn’t wait to share the experience with her, for her to see me and be proud of me. Instantly I felt completely alone. I had no immediate family there, no siblings, no Mam no Dad. And then to know Uncle Paddy was so ill, it was enough to make me want to burst into tears but this was the last thing I could do.

Part of me was devastated. The other part of me said, Ava right now you need to put all of that out of my head and make this show the best possible show it can be. I switched that part of my brain off and went on to look for the designer.

Some time around then was when I was introduced to the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Andrew Montague. He was there to open the show. I stuck on my smile as I admired his necklace. We chatted about style, what he likes to wear, the Mansion house, how I Irish danced there many years ago. We talked about the Dubs playing on Sunday in the Leinster Final. I secured him for an interview for Style Angel and that was me done and gone back up stairs to the madness which was backstage.

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For those of you who have yet to see what backstage of a fashion show looks like close your eyes and picture this. Well read this first, then close your eyes and imagine it!

A small space, filled with people. Many many people, everywhere, some in knickers, some clothed and some being stitched into outfits. Imagine make-up artists with brushes coated in powder spilling out into the air, dressers standing around looking stressed out, rails of clothes and bags everywhere. Models shouting that there dress has just burst open. It’s quite a scene. The term organised mess best describes back stage.

Suddenly the time had arrived, it was time for the show to begin. With all models lined up ready to go, we opened with designs from Sinead Doyle. And off they went…

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Design by Sinead Doyle

Some of the models were too slow getting changed and I felt like ramming a rocket up some of their arses. Some had this vunerable look of, oh Ava I can’t walk out there half naked, baring all. My response to their vulnerability? ”You look STUNNING, you look hot. You’re Ireland’s next top model now get out there and rock it.” And they did go out and rock it just like they were top models. Last minute glitches included bras showing, backs showing, arses showing. ”That’s how it is supposed to look, it looks amazing.” And off they would walk, glowing with the confidence needed to walk down a runway in a skimpy bikini, with 500 people staring like nosey neighbours, some like wolves about to rip you apart.

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Design from Nadine Roberts

That’s the horrible part about fashion shows and the fashion industry in general. The bitchiness from some people.    ‘She looks very manly. Oh my god, the state of her. She is way too fat to be a model’. Oh really? Why don’t you get up there then? Why don’t you walk half naked and look confident while hundreds of people stare at you. All the models that took part in the show were beautiful and had perfect figures.

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Design from Deirdre Mahon, owner of vintage boutique Quack&Dirk

Backstage during the show, the dressers and designers were fantastic. They all helped to get the models changed as quickly as possible. The majority of models worked as speedily as possible and once they got down to me, they all looked incredible. All they needed was a booster of confidence right before they exited.

 

It was a difficult show for any model to walk in. Each walk took a minute and a half and then they had three flights of stairs to run up, a qucik change and then back down the three flights. You can never tell as a guest to a show, the stress and pressure people back stage are under. It is immense.

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Once the show was finished and all the models did their final walk out, it was time for the designers to get their well deserved applause and bunch of flowers. I too, was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers which made me feel greatly appreciated. All the hard work had paid off. I’m only sorry I had no family there for the big moment. I did however appreciate all of my friends, Daniel and his family who were there. They were all my adopted immediate family for the night.

It was time then for Conor to announce the winners of the top three best dressed and Style Angel along with the Lord Mayor presented them each with their bags of goodies.

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Then all the hard work was done, so we were able to relax.  All I could think about was leaving Lillie’s and calling my Mam. I cleared the area which needed to be cleared upstairs, then spoke to everyone who had come to show support. It was lovely to have so many wonderful people there from various areas of the fashion world.

I called my mother once things had quietened down. She told me my Uncle had died earlier in the afternoon. It was the saddest ending to my night possible. An incredibly bittersweet moment. I knew the show was a huge success but my heart could only feel sadness so I went on home and left the partying to the rest of them.

And that’s it about the show for now. It was hard work and very satisfying . I will be doing follow up posts about some of the designers and their work. Many great opportunities have come from doing the show and I will post all about them. A big thank you to Conor and Ciara for giving me an amazing experience filled with many future possibilities. An even bigger thank you to everyone who helped and supported me. You all know who you are.

My next post is on its way and is all about my exciting trip to the incredible Electric Picnic festival to model  for the fabulous Deirdre Mahon of Quack&Dirk.

Until then, be good and stay stylish.

Uncle Paddy, may you rest in peace with a pint of Guinness by your side. xxx

4 thoughts on “Through my eyes”

  1. Hi Ava,
    My name is Brian Isaacs.
    The reason I’m writing is in the above article you state that your Great Aunt Betty was married to Billy Hodes.
    Billy Hodes was my great uncle.
    I’m not joking. My mother’s father (my grandfather) was Murray Hodes.
    I would love to touch base with you some time.
    Please drop me a line.

  2. Hey Ava,

    What a night! I love the way you write, and felt as if I were there for a moment… It sounds like you put on an incredible show, I hope you are really proud of yourself, it is such an achievement!

    Serena xx

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