Extraordinary Women: Ana Matronic

Extraordinary Women: Ana Matronic

On October 1st 2012, I did something which previously, I never had the confidence to do. I attended a concert on my own. Looking back now, it seems such a trivial piece of information to admit, but I was quite nervous about it at the time. The act were the Scissor Sisters and they were at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, in-sync with their latest album ‘Shady Love’. Little did I know but that would be their final concert in Ireland prior to disbanding.

It was an incredible performance, the audience were vigorously involved and a unique atmosphere was cultivated – one which even seems to defy words but the energy and enthusiasm was palpable. I was in awe of lead singer, Ana Matronic’s confidence, the ways in which she engaged with the crowd, her powerful strides across the stage, the choice in costume, her generosity and kindness and of course, vocal ability. I was in awe and that moment alone epitomised Ana as an Extraordinary Woman.

I was incredibly honoured to speak to Ana for this interview series and made every attempt not to fan-girl. We spoke about drag culture, the importance of authenticity, marriage equality and staying true to oneself.

Extraordinary Women: Ana Matronic

How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?

The most succinct way of describing myself would be a witch. Personally and professionally, I’m a witch!

How would define your coven?

My coven is one of a transforming chimeric characters; people who can change form and keep me entertained.                

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First Look – ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’

As you enter the ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ exhibition, the first sense which is engaged is not sight but hearing. The deep cackle of Lee Alexander McQueen echoes over the entrance. The sound is harmonious but tinges of darkness can be aurally discriminated. Alexander McQueen was no ordinary designer and Savage Beauty is no ordinary exhibition.

There is no way back for me now. I’m going to take you on journeys you’ve never dreamed were possible. – Alexander McQueen

From my first few steps into the Victoria & Albert Museum yesterday, signs which read ‘Press Preview: Savage Beauty’ dotted the corridors. Much like Hansel and Gretel, I followed the proverbial breadcrumbs to the opening address by Martin Roth, Director of the V&A. He began to narrate a story of homecoming and celebration which appears to be not only an intrinsic and unifying thread throughout the entire exhibition but also for the staff who worked on Savage Beauty. Alexander McQueen was almost family to the museum.

The collections of the V&A never fail to intrigue and inspire me. The nation is privileged to have access to such a resource… it’s the sort of place I’d like to be shut in overnight. – Alexander McQueen

McQueen

Alexander McQueen was driven by the world’s juxtaposing beauty and savagery. He was vigorously anti-establishment and his designs oft provoked terror, fear, curiosity and awe. Even more disconcerting is that much of his work was autobiographical. Choosing to exhibit such a vastly diverse spectrum of work is daunting but to do so at ‘home’ can appear insurmountable.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A

Jellyfish emsemble and Armadillo shoes from Platos Atlantis SS2010. Model: Polina Kasina

UPDATE: A review of ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ is now online here

Lee Alexander McQueen often narrated a desire to reach an audience larger than the few who sit front row at fashion week. In 2009, his Plato’s Atlantis collection was the first to be streamed online but Lee died just four months later, without seeing his desire wholly realised.

In 2011, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited, ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty'; a post-humous display of McQueen’s most note-worthy pieces that captured the designer’s struggle with his outsider/insider identity and his brand’s amalgamation of fashion and art. The exhibition was frequented by 661,409 visitors in just three months.

At the time, there was heated discussion about the location of the exhibition. Lee McQueen was innately proud of his working class East-end London roots and whilst the Metropolitan Museum of Art didn’t initially feel like ‘home’, it was an immeasurable commercial success. However, in just over a week’s time, ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ opens to a European audience at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

Already, 58,000 advance tickets have been sold and pre-bookable tickets for the first five weekends of the exhibition are completely sold out. The exhibition has also had to be extended by two weeks due to public demand. The show’s creative director, Sam Gainsbury has said that the emphasis on home and London will ‘make the show feel more raw’ whilst at the V&A, “It’s more about those early years, when McQueen wasn’t famous, when there was no money, no celebrity, just this incredible creativity.”

I am really fortunate to be attending the preview of the exhibition on March 12th and like most with an interest in fashion, I consider myself Alexander McQueen’s biggest fan. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Kate Bethune, Senior Research Assistant for Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.

Jellyfish emsemble and Armadillo shoes from Platos Atlantis SS2010. Model: Polina Kasina

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

1. What does your role entail, regarding ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’?

I am the Senior Research Assistant for the exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. I am part of the curatorial team and support Senior Curator Claire Wilcox.

2. What process or discussion was involved in bringing the collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum?

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ISPCC Shield Campaign

Sinéad Burke - ISPCC Shield Campaign

I have some news.

The ISPCC Shield Campaign has been in circulation for the past four years. It was launched to help protect children from bullying, to cultivate awareness of the issue and to begin a conversation about the topic. Simultaneously, the organisation designated March as the ISPCC Anti-Bullying Month.

Since it’s inauguration, the campaign has grown immensley. An array of celebrities have volunteered as ambassadors for the campaign. These include: Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan, One Direction, Louis Walsh, Little Mix, Brian O’Driscoll, The Script, Ellie Goulding, Olly Murs and Mrs. Brown.

Penneys ISPCC Shield Bangle €2.50 available in stores during the month o...The campaign has resulted in an incredible number of funds being donated either online, via text or through purchasing the shield for €2 in your local Penneys.

However this year, it is not just the ISPCC shield which is on offer, but you can also purchase a ISPCC bangle which a simple but beautiful shield charm. These will be on sale in every Penneys store in Ireland today for €2.50 each. Penneys are huge supporters of the ISPCC, they independently sourced these bangles and will give 100% of the monies back to the ISPCC.

Now, for the news…

I am honoured and slightly awestruck to be an ISPCC Shield Ambassador. The work which the ISPCC undertake is something which I have supported for as long as I can remember. The time, care and space which the organisation gives children to talk and to be heard is invaluable. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to be part of such an incredible campaign.

Sinéad Burke - ISPCC Shield Campaign

Furthermore, I also received news this week that Penneys have highlighted four ISPCC Shield Ambassadors for their window displays in this month of March. These are Laura Whitmore, The Script, Colin Farrell and me. From today, you will be able to see my face in the window of 38 Penneys stores. Daunting but so incredibly exciting.

UPDATE: I’ve just heard that Marks & Spencers have also chosen me as one of their ISPCC Shield Ambassadors for March. You will be able to see my photo in all of their stores nationwide. Whilst the ISPCC bangle is unique to Penneys, you will be able to purchase an ISPCC Shield pin in your local M&S for €2. All money is being donated to the ISPCC.

Thank you so much to Caroline Downey, Penny Dix and Eimear Larkin. A huge thank you to Barry McCall for taking the wonderful photo, to Gill & Katie in Penneys and Carmel in Marks & Spencers.

If you can, please support the ISPCC, perhaps you could donate online or purchase a shield / bangle. The work that they do is essential but the ISPCC continues to need our support.

In the Fold with Curator Gemma A. Williams

Michael Stewart by Andrew Nuding

At last year’s British Fashion Awards, the New Establishment Designer Award was presented to Simone Rocha and the Menswear Designer Award to J.W. Anderson. This was not the first time that London’s fashion domain awarded either of the aforementioned designers but it solidifies the argument that the industry is besotted by and has embraced upcoming Irish designers. For many, London is the perfect location to proliferate their career and nurture their unique talent.

Photo by James Hazlett-Beard

Photo by James Hazlett-Beard

In collaboration with Kildare Village, Irish Design 2015 sought to use London Fashion Week as a vehicle for spotlighting less established Irish designers. Thus, ‘In The Fold’ was born; an exhibition spanning February 20th – 24th which highlights the creativity and talent of eight promising fashion designers.

Gemma A. Williams is the curator tasked with achieving such a gargantuan project but her selection of Caoimhe MacNeice, Richard Malone, Jocelyn Murray Boyne, Michael Stewart, Naoise Farrell, Rory Parnell Mooney, Oliver Doherty Duncan and Laura Kinsella alone, has her captive audience salivating already.

Prior to the opening of the exhibition, I had the opportunity interview Gemma about her insights into the marketability of Irish design and the lack of society and commercial appreciation of Irish design that exists at home.

Rory Parnell Mooney by Panico

Rory Parnell Mooney by Panico

1. How did this project first come about and what drew you in?

The project was really driven by Aisling Farinella, who is the Fashion and Textiles advisor to the Irish Design 2015 initiative. Aisling was aware of my previous work for the British Council at the International Fashion Showcase and my passion to include and profile Ireland in this platform for emerging fashion. My practice is basically all about creating fashion narratives and promoting designers who are starting out on their journey so the opportunity to showcase young Irish fashion designers during London Fashion Week is a massive draw. Also, the fact that I am a strong supporter of Irish design gernerally, having worked with the Embassy of Ireland in London on two occasions, meant that I instinctively felt attracted to the project.

2. The profession of a curator is rarely one which is explicitly described within a public forum but what did your role in ‘Into the Fold’ entail?

Where do I begin? Being a curator outside of a museum, and not caring for a collection, actually means you have to wear many and every hat. It has no real set of rules and is incredibly hands-on and varied. I was involved in all areas of the show from designer selection and requesting imagery to creating the narrative thread. Luckily, an exhibition designer was commissioned, ABGC, so they worked on this narrative and concept to produce the spatial perimeters of the show. But it’s really never ending in terms of logistics and production. I’m also required to install the garments, devise the text and then promote the show. I’ve also been encouraging designers to engage with social media to make sure they get the most they can from this opportunity. It is hoped the show will be installed and displayed in another venue, so it would be really great if as many spectators as possible could see the exhibition.

Laura Kinsella by Johnny McMillan

Laura Kinsella by Johnny McMillan

3. What is unique about each of the designers highlighted in the exhibition?

I think what sets them apart from other international graduates is their understanding and respect for design. There is definitely a thought process there, and an intellectual approach to what they are designing and then making. I think their reference points and what is influencing them is different and also in practical terms fabric sourcing is different, we don’t have big fairs in Ireland so a lot of these young graduates are making and embellishing their own, so material is really vital here. I saw the appliqué of Michael Stewart’s dresses up close and it is just staggering. The colour is so powerful and I got a really strong wave of emotion when I saw it. For me, if a work of art touches you, it is very special and unique.

I think Richard Malone has the making of a really exciting and inspiring fashion thinker. He won the Deutsche Prize which is a worldwide competition and this is funding his first collection. I know that a lot of platforms even outside of the United Kingdom approached him to show with them yet he is choosing to present his collection on his own terms, here in London. This is so refreshing and shows that he will take the industry on his own terms, and not get lost in the system. I think this sense of self is very unique.

Michael Stewart by Andrew Nuding

Michael Stewart by Andrew Nuding

4. Why are Irish design and Irish designers so attractive to an international audience?

I think it’s a really exciting time now for Irish designers but this is due to the name they are making in London. London is arguably the best city for a young designer to be based as there’s support and the daring audeince. Experimentation is really valued and feted over here, in fact it’s actively encouraged. Of course, fashion brands need to be comercially viable as well as it’s about how designers make that shift from press favourite to a functional label and I think Irish designers have this ‘double ability’. They possess the creativity but also the logical business mind to see what they will attract, but what will sell as well. In terms of curation, for me, it’s great to be able to commission and display pieces which don’t necessarily need to be worn or can exist at the edges of the fashion spectacle. This exhibition features work which is all very wearable and illustrates that the Irish aesthetic is at it’s very heart, highly practical.

Jocelyn Murray Boyne by Sean Jackson

Jocelyn Murray Boyne by Sean Jackson

5. Brewer Street Car Park has previously been home to House of Holland at Fashion Week but was the fusion of design and the mechanical instrustry a conscious decision?

This venue was actually chosen by the British Council and the British Fashion Council but they do tend to favour a raw, industrial aesthetic. This is a popular fashion venue in London and it’s funny some of the reactions the venue provokes. It’s just typical London, which I like.

Olivia Doherty by Khara Pringle

Olivia Doherty by Khara Pringle

6. What do you want the main talking point of the exhibition to be?

I really hope the main talking point is to bring Irish fashion into the spotlight in Ireland and see how Government bodies and institutions, retail, museological etc. can help the sector grow exponentially. From what I hear, designers are really struggling in Ireland. Initiatives like CREATE at Brown Thomas are fantastics but we need more of this. Not Fashion Weeks because there is no point in Ireland trying to compete on this level, but definitely looking to other countries which aren’t fashion capitals like Norway, Germany of Spain to see how they are supporting their newcomers.

Worldwide, Irish fashion designers are definitely recognised so it’s now time for people in Ireland to take fashion seriously at both a commercial and cultural level. It would be great to see some form of serious mentoring set up to help or investigate how young Irish creatives can tap into the fashion system to say, London for example, but keep the production in Ireland. It’s a really exciting time for us and I can’t wait to see how it evolves.

Thank you very much to Gemma for her time, experience and insights. If you would like to know more about ‘In The Fold’, you can find Gemma on Twitter and Instagram.

Extraordinary Women: Stephanie Roche

EW Stephanie Roche

It was an honour to speak to Stephanie Roche for the Extraordinary Women series and I sincerely hope that she wins the FIFA Puskás Award tomorrow, not because she is female, but because she is a player who possesses incredible skill, discipline and love for her sport.

In 2009, the FIFA Puskás Award was established, honouring Ferenc Puskás, Hungarian international and striker for Real Madrid in the late fifties and sixties. In 528 matches, Puskás scored 512 goals. The award is given to the ‘most aesthetically significant, or most beautiful’ goal of the year and is decided by public vote. Previous winners include Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres and Andrés Iniesta.

The eleventh FIFA Puskás Award winner will be announced tomorrow evening at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich. The three finalists include Robin van Persie, James Rodríguez and Stephanie Roche. The former two goals were scored at the World Cup in Brazil whilst Stephanie occurred in front of just ninety five spectators in October 2013 when Peamount United played against Wexford Youths.

Stephanie Roche is both the first Irish player and the first woman to be a nominee and a finalist for the award. Upon the announcement, a media frenzy occured with David Luiz, Ian Wright, Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker heralding Stephanie’s talent and skill.

On the eve of the ceremony, Stephanie’s goal has been viewed more than two million times and whilst this competition has catapulted her to immeasurable fame, Stephanie continues to make time to speak to and advise the young girls who spectate at matches.

EW Stephanie Roche

How would you describe yourself both personally and professionally?

I suppose I’m an outgoing, happy person and most people who know me will tell you that I’m confident and honest. Professionally, I think being honest is of huge value as I’m always straight up with people and I get on with most of the players. That really helps!

What first drew you to football?

My two brothers were always involved in football and when I was very young, my Dad coached too. I just loved football from an early age, I was always out on the street playing football with my friends and if I wasn’t out with my friends, I’d be with my brothers and if I wasn’t with them, I’d be out on the street on my own playing football. I was never really without a football and anyone who lived in the estate where I grew up will be able to tell you that, I’d be constantly kicking a ball against their wall and I’m really lucky that the love for football has always stayed with me.

How has football continued to keep your interest?

At the age of fourteen or fifteen, a lot of the girls who I trained with, stopped playing but there were a couple of us, like myself and Áine O’Gorman, who loved football and gave up almost everything for it. We put football first ahead of everything and there’s no real explanation as to why we did that. I was lucky to get into the Irish squad and that gave me a focus and a goal to reach for and work towards. I always wanted to play for a senior Irish team and I’m really fortunate to have done and to do that. My goal was always to work as hard as I could so that I could play on the Irish team and aim to play professionally. I was really lucky that I had that focus and such support from my family and friends too.

You mentioned having to give up everything for football, in those early years were people understanding that perhaps you didn’t have as much free time as your classmates?

To be honest, I don’t think that they had much of an option ha! If I had a match or training, that’s what I went to. All of my friends did know that if a night out was happening or if people were getting together, their first port of call would be to check if Steph has a match. They know what I’m like and that I would never go out if I had a match the following day. It’s something that my family and friends have got used to over the years. My family are hugely supportive and particularly my Dad, he has been my biggest supporter for all of my life and he always encouraged me to try my hardest. My friends and family understand that with me, football comes first and I’m lucky that not only do they respect that but they encourage it too.

It’s been over a year since that acclaimed goal against Wexford Youths was recorded but how have you changed as a person and as a player since then?

I think as a player, I grew some confidence from it. It’s amazing to see so many people talking about my goal and I’d like to think that this didn’t just happen by chance as I do score goals, not maybe as good as that particular one, but near to that most weeks at training and at matches. Previous to this, I didn’t think it would ever be noticed and not just me but on the whole, in the Women’s National League in Ireland, a lot of the players don’t get noticed nor do they get recognition for what they are doing. It was nice for me to get recognised as a player but it was also great to get an opportunity to place the Women’s National League in the spotlight. As a person, it has made me appreciate what football can bring to me and the many opportunities it has given me in the past. Even before the goal happened, I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world and to play for my country. That’s something that a lot of people, either male or female, haven’t had the fortune of doing. It’s made me appreciate and understand why I love football so much.

Over the past couple of months, the support which you have gained for the Puskas Goal of the Year Awards has been phenomenal both from the layman and the football community. What experiences have you had in relation to the family that is football?

When I played at home with Peamount United, Raheny United would have been our biggest rivals but so many of the players from that team have come together to support me, it’s been incredible. In saying that, if in the future colleagues or rival team players were involved in something like this, I would be doing my best to publicise their hard work and would give them as much support as I could. I mean, it’s not really about me at the minute, it’s about women’s football and I’m doing everything I can to try to promote it. I’m the first person in Ireland to be nominated for something like this and to be shortlisted to the final three, I’m honoured to be representing Ireland and at the same time, to be representing women’s football.

The support and almost family relations that exists between players, is that unique to teams in Ireland or does it also exist in France?

With the language barrier, it’s quite different for me in France with ASPTT Albi and although there has been quite a lot of support here, it’s a challenge for me as I don’t really understand what’s going on to be honest… I’ve had strangers come up to me in the street and say ‘Congratulations!’ and ask me for pictures and stuff. It’s been a bit surreal. Much like the way the support from Ireland has been so incredible, it’s amazing to feel that people who I have never met before genuinely think that I deserve this.

In relation to that language barrier, how have you had to accommodate your skills or body language to facilitate that?

I’ve been in France for over five months and have picked up some of the basics in language. I understand far more than I can say but on the pitch, I very quickly learned the keywords that I needed in order to get the ball or where to be or where to move. It’s off the pitch where I have the greatest challenge. We train five days a week and a match one day a week. It’s been difficult as after training, I just come back home. I did prepare myself mentally and physically to be here and knew that sometimes I would feel lonely being away from my family and my boyfriend but it’s been extra hard due to the language barrier. It is something that perhaps I didn’t really think about before I came to France, I just wanted to play football at a professional level and although it’s been tough, the sport itself is making it worthwhile.

It seems that the greatest challenge in encouraging women to play football is not at the childhood stage as those who want to play, will find an outlet but as girls and women grow older, maintaining their interest and their attendance is difficult. Do you have any ideas on what can be done to encourage girls to stay playing the sport?

I think young girls will only play football if they really think that they will enjoy it or if their friends play. It’s when they get to the age of fourteen or fifteen that perhaps they begin to be distracted by other things and realise that with football, they can’t do everything. It’s there where we need to keep girls involved and throughout this whole journey, some people have said that what’s happening to me right now, might give young girls a goal and a focus that previously they might not have had in football. Seeing the popularity or attention that I’m getting at the moment, without sounding like too much of an idiot, it might inspire girls to realise that if they work hard and train as I did, this could be them in a few years time. It’s great to see women getting the recognition that they deserve in sport and particularly football, we put the same amount of effort and work into our sport as most of the men do and they’re in news and receive praise nearly every day. It’s great that it’s finally our turn!

Is that role of being a female ambassador for football and for sport something which you embrace or is there an element of pressure involved too?

To be honest with you, it’s something I’ve only even begun to think about. Growing up, playing for Ireland was something that I wanted to do for myself. It was never my intention to do it because young girls were looking at me, I didn’t even know or realise that it could be a possibility. Since the goal went viral, there has been an increase in the number of girls in the stands watching matches and wanting to talk to me after the game. I’ll always make time for them. I usually spend half an hour or forty minutes after a game speaking to young girls, giving them jerseys and finding small ways to try to keep them interested. I think I’ve embraced it more than anything, I don’t want to do anything wrong but I would like to believe that I’m a nice and genuine person so I never really think of myself as an inspiration or anything mad like that but I’m really happy that young girls do look up to me and I’m quite proud to be able to say that I’m a role model to young girls.

If we look past January 12th and the awards ceremony, the media frenzy that is surrounding you and female football at the moment, what would you like this phenomenon to be a vehicle for? Is it to create a different perception of female footballers, is it to get FIFA and the FAI to question where they place their funding?

I think there’s a lot of interest in women’s football at the moment but the main factor which needs to be addressed is funding, as you said. I watched Germany play England in Wembley late last year and they had 45,000 people at the game, that just shows that people have a huge appetite for watching football and that if women’s football is put on show and publicised, people will have an interest and might attend. That takes a lot of funding and I know that at the minute, women’s football perhaps doesn’t give back as much as the men’s football but at the same time, if there is money invested in our sport, FIFA and the FAI will reap the rewards. It needs funding and it needs publicity. Technically, we have excellent skilled footballers all around the world, if people knew where and when they were playing, I genuinely believe that they would really enjoy watching and supporting us.

I think we all have an element of responsibility, not just particular bodies or broadcasters but the ordinary person, we need to be in the stands or watching the match on television.

Definitely! RTÉ have given the Women’s National League quite a bit of support, they showed the Women’s National Cup Final on TV for the past two years, which prior to that had never happened before. We really hope that continues and that they broadcast the highlights of our matches on ‘Soccer Republic’ too. For me, the next step would be to have a highlights show of just the Women’s League and I think that can be easily done. It might only be a half hour show but it’s something that I would love to see, the quality of women’s football in Ireland is incredible and a lot of the girls give up a huge amount to play and I really believe that they deserve it.

In football, I imagine you experience a spectrum of emotions but as a person, how do you manage that rollercoaster of emotions that is innate to the career?

Anyone who plays football knows that it is a very emotional game. When I was younger, if I wasn’t playing in the match I wouldn’t be happy – something which my old managers will be well able to tell you about. As a player, I’ve definitely matured and I still want to be playing every game but I do understand that only eleven people can play. When I first arrived in France, I didn’t start or even play in every match, I would sit there watching the games and the players and knew that I could do what my teammates were doing but I understood my manager’s decisions and choices. That can be hard and even when I am playing a match, if something goes wrong, I would spend the evening texting my friend Áine (O’Gorman) and together we would break down what went right or what went wrong in our respective matches. That feeling of doing something wrong doesn’t leave you though, it could go on for days but it’s not something that I think you can extract from football. If I came away from a game, having either played or not played, and didn’t feel annoyed about something or didn’t want to improve something, I think that would be the first sign that I no longer loved the game.

Perhaps it’s an Irish-ism that we dwell on the negatives rather than celebrating the positives, do you take time to almost compliment yourself or appreciate the moment if something good happens in a game?

If I played a game where I scored a goal and we won and within the match there were one or two things that didn’t go well, I wouldn’t dwell on those negatives and would always celebrate the game but most professional footballers or even athletes will tell you that they constantly work hard to improve and get better. That’s what I strive for.

Throughout this entire voting campaign, was there any one moment in that manic frenzy that was particularly unexpected?

I think seeing my goal being analysed by John Hartson on BBC and the way in which he treated the analysis professionally was incredible. He slowed it down and explained to the audience exactly what happened. He looked at the goal and defined it as great, regardless of me being female and the fact that he said it was the best of the three obviously helped but it was nice to see him to do that. Also, there has been so much support from people on Twitter, Facebook and on the TV, to see it receiving such an amount of recognition has been incredible.

Being a year younger than you, the fact that I will soon be approaching my thirties somewhat terrifies me but what do you aspire to achieve and do, either personally or professionally, within the next five years?

Professionally, I would love to play full-time with the Irish team and to get to a final with those girls, many of them I’ve grown up with, would be fantastic. That would be my number one goal, professionally. Personally, I don’t really know as I haven’t really had that much time to have a personal life, outside of football but I always said that I would like to have a family but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. I’ll put it on hold for a while but sometime in the future, I’d like to get a house with my boyfriend and start a life together but for now, football is the main focus for both of us.

Thank you so much to Stephanie, Karla and Gerry for their time and support. You can follow Stephanie’s journey via Instagram and Twitter but there are just hours left to vote for Stephanie Roche to win FIFA’s Puskás Award, please vote here.

Further ‘Extraordinary Women’ can be found here.

Competition: Step Into the Story at Kildare Village

Kildare Village Competition

I like to think of myself as a good present-buyer. For birthdays, Christmas and other festivities, I put quite a lot of thought into the gifts I purchase and how it could reflect the interests or personality of the recipient. I love seeing the reaction of friends and family when they wrestle with wrapping paper and sellotape, eventually uncovering their gift but that’s not the sole part of the process that I enjoy.

I love the ease with which we can shop online, transactions can be made from the most comfortable of locations and I feel no guilt in wearing a giraffe onesie whilst doing so. However, I miss the human interaction that shopping often requires. The shared excitement when the sales assistant asks whom the gift is for or the opportunity to meander down Grafton Street and treat yourself to a Butlers steaming white hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, of course.

Various retailers have attempted to harness that personal element in their seasonal campaigns but few have executed it as well as Kildare Village. Titled ‘Step Into the Story’, they have created three different narratives whereby a father & son, best friends and a couple, each purchase luxury items which are intrinsically linked to the personalities of the recipient. The campaign is succinct but beautifully illustrates the caliber of brands available and the festive spirit which Kildare Village has cultivated just over 50 kilometres from Dublin.

Kildare Village Competition

Earlier this week, Kildare Village inquired if I would be interested in offering a €100 voucher as a competition prize to you, the reader. Of course, I said yes! With brands including Louise Kennedy, Anya Hindmarch, Kate Spade, Nike and DKNY available, I have no doubt that you will be spoiled for choice.

The competition will last for a week with the winner announced on Christmas Eve. Making my inaugural visit to Kildare Village is at the top of my new year resolutions but if you have recommendations as to which boutique I should visit first, I’m all ears!

Step Into The Story at Kildare Village with Minnie Mélange

British Fashion Awards 2014

BFA 2014

The British Fashion Awards was first founded in 1989 with the inaugural ceremony taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. Seven awards were presented. Almost twenty five years later, the British Fashion Awards is a highlight in the industry’s calendar, comprised of seventeen categories of nominees; a mélange of the most prolific established and emerging talents within the domain.

In 2014, Alexander McQueen and our very own, JW Anderson led with two nominations each whilst Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour OBE, accepted the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’. Sponsored by Swarovski and hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, I imagine those who purchased tickets (ranging from £30 – £500) found rubbing shoulders with editors, models and designers alike, a rather worthwhile investment.

Last night, Naomi Campbell, Karlie Kloss, Harry Styles, Kylie Minogue, John Galliano, Nick Grimshaw and Anna Kendrick were among those who presented the awards. You can watch the entire show in segments below.

The night’s seventeen winners included:

  • Emerging Womenswear Designer: Marques’Almeida
  • Emerging Menswear Designer: Craig Green
  • Emerging Accessories Designer: Prism
  • Red Carpet Designer: Alexander McQueen
  • Model: Cara Delevingne
  • Special Recognition Award: Chris Moore
  • Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creation: Edward Enninful
  • International Designer: Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Anna Wintour OBE
  • Creative Campaign: Louis Vuitton
  • New Establishment Designer: Simone Rocha
  • Establishment Designer: Preen
  • Brand: Victoria Beckham
  • British Style Award: Emma Watson
  • Accessory Designer: Anya Hindmarch
  • Menswear Designer: J.W. Anderson
  • Womenswear Designer: Erdem

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, my patriotic tendencies may have been evident when both J.W. Anderson and Simone Rocha took home awards. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, Jonathan Anderson worked in Brown Thomas and I can only begin to imagine how proud John Rocha was of his daughter.

Last night was Cara Delvingne’s second occasion to receive the British Fashion Award for Model of the Year and whilst her reputation within the industry has only further ascended, I would have been tempted to award the title to Jourdan Dunn.

When the nominees were announced in December, I was somewhat shocked that Burberry was not listed for a single nomination. For me, the obvious category for their nomination would have been ‘Brand of the Year’ and although I think that Victoria Beckham is extremely deserving of the award, it surprised me that not one of the three nominees showcase their collections at London Fashion Week. Victoria exhibits her work in London whilst McQueen and Stella McCartney present in Paris.

Finally, earlier this year I had a fascinating conversation with designer, Peter O’Brien. Once the head designer for Chloé and Rochas, we discussed the longevity of a brand after the absence of the founding designer. Within Chanel, it’s somewhat easier to replicate Coco’s vision with quilted leather, tweed and the interlocking c’s. For other designers, the codes of the house are not as explicit. One such brand is Alexander McQueen where Sarah Burton is at the helm. Burton is an incredibly talented individual and greatly deserved last night’s two nominations but winning the Red Carpet Award left me confused. What is worn on the red carpet by celebrities and models alike are beautifully intricate designs with exquisite attention to detail but often in Alexander McQueen’s case, they are alien to the visceral and extreme aesthetic which Lee Alexander McQueen cultivated. Is that a negative? Perhaps not but it’s most certainly different and maybe that needs to be addressed.

What were your thoughts on last night’s awards? Were you satisfied with the outcomes?

Minnie Meets… Jonathan Dickins

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“I didn’t meet any other managers, I only met him – and I made my mind up that I wanted him to manage me before he made his mind up that he wanted to manage me.”

These were the words denoted by Adele in her opening address at the Music Week Awards in 2012. She was at the ceremony to present the ‘Manager of the Year’ Award to Jonathan Dickins, her own manager. Six years earlier, Jonathan founded September Management and within eight years, a portfolio of incredible musicians from Jamie T to London Grammar have blossomed under his care and guidance.

Music and the industry itself, are in Jonathan’s blood. His grandfather, Percy Dickins co-founded NME Magazine and in 1952, he invented what we now know as the pop chart. His father, is a booking agent working with artists such as Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Neil Young and Jamiroquai whilst his uncle, Rob Dickins, was at the helm of Universal Music UK for most of the eighties / nineties and simultaneously constructed songs such as Cher’s ‘Believe’ and Madonna’s ‘Ray of Light’.

At the Web Summit last month, I had the honour and privilege to sit down with Jonathan and discuss his motivations, his definition of success and questioned why saying no can be a positive.

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How would you describe yourself, both personally and professionally?

I always define myself as both a Dad and as a manager. 

Within the music industry the Dickins name is somewhat of a legacy. Did that instill any fear or concern in you when you first ventured into this domain? 

Fear? I was terrified! My family were and are so involved in the business, you couldn’t help but be a little nervous about it. Though, I’ll be honest, my transition into the music industry would not have been as smooth without some of those connections but having a family in the industry can be both your greatest strength and your biggest weakness. I began in the industry by working with my uncle, (Rob Dickins) someone that I get on very well with but it was only when I began to work for myself that I really felt like I was no longer in my family’s shadow. I’ve been really lucky! 

I would define luck as the moment where hard work meets opportunity. 

I would agree. We have an incredible team at September Management who work ridiculously hard! 

Speaking of your team, what do you look for when you are recruiting within September Management?

Someone once told me that you should hire people who are better than you and I think that’s very true. September Management began from a bedroom in my house and the majority of the team have grown with the company, almost since the very beginning. The most important element of the team is that the people who work with me love what they do and have such an intense passion for music. That’s essential!

On the Music Summit Stage, you spoke about being somewhat baffled as to why artists over-publicise themselves and saturate the market with their branding. Thus, you and your artists say ‘no’ quite often. On what basis do you make such decisions?

For me, 70% of my work and the decisions that I make are based on gut instinct. The other 30% comes from experience. Perhaps other people would question the maths of that but I think it has worked well for us so far. 

In 2012, you were awarded ‘Manager of the Year’ at the Music Week Awards and Adele’s album ’21’ became the first album to sell over three million digital copies but in terms of your career, how do you define success? 

Winning ‘Manager of the Year’ was amazing and receiving recognition is incredible. I could do the cliché thing and say that winning awards means nothing but honestly, that’s bullshit. However, the true definition of success for me is being able to do something that you are incredibly passionate about every single day and I am so fortunate that I am able to do that. 

September Management has been in existence for eight years but how do you envisage the future of the company?

I want to keep doing what we are doing. Deliberately, we keep our roster of artists small so that we can concentrate our time and efforts into each of them. As we grow I want to continue to cultivate the culture and ethos that we created in the early days of September Management which is that the artist is our priority but creating music and especially brilliant music is the most important element of all. 

My final question for you, Jonathan – what do you think is the specific element that makes music brilliant?

I’m probably the worst person to answer that question because it’s strange, most of the music that becomes a hit, I don’t really like it. That’s what’s so great about Adele, London Grammar, Jamie T and many of our other artists – I love what they do. They’re the anomaly.

Thanks so much to Jonathan, Katy and Niall for all of their assistance in the organisation of this interview. To take a glimpse at the full music roster of September Management, you can find their website here.

If you enjoyed this interview, there’s quite the possibility that you may find the other ‘Minnie Meets’ conversations interesting too. You can find them here.

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