Have you ever met someone for the first time and were immediately inspired by their passion, drive and love for what they do?
I’ll admit, it’s a rarity.
However, when I met Grace Moore for the first time, that’s exactly how I felt!
In a very noisy coffee shop, we bonded over our infatuation with London-based-Irish-born designer Simone Rocha and of course discussed what working as the personal stylist to actress Saoirse Ronan entails.
After a few sips of my vanilla latté, I asked the questions I was most eager to know the answer to; How did she and Saoirse first begin to work together? Were they childhood friends? Did they go to school together? As you can probably imagine, I had spent quite a lot of time concocting an answer myself.
However, the actual beginning of their relationship is pretty interesting!
“I met Saoirse while working on a photoshoot with photographer Barry McCall for a charity book with the ISPCC. I had to pull a few looks for Saoirse for the shoot and that went really well. Her Mam and Dad then asked for my contact details, so I gave them to them. I never thought that I was going to hear anything and low and behold, four months later, I got a call to say, ‘Would you like to style Saoirse for this big press tour that she has coming up?’ Of course, I said yes and the rest is history…”
While Grace’s styling career is now envied by many, she’s quick to admit that it wasn’t always like that – she began like most people.
“At my first photoshoot, I couldn’t even turn on a steamer. Jan (Brierton) was like, ‘Are you actually for real?’ I was like ‘Oh sorry!’. And look at me now, so to speak!”
Grace and Saoirse have collaborated on many of the actresses ensembles for premieres and red carpet appearances but whenever possible, they highlight the talents and collections of Irish designers.
“She is so supportive of anything Irish; the film industry, fashion… Moreso now that she is becoming into her own person. She’s nineteen now, she knows what she likes and the road she wants to go down, the people and the brands that she wants to support. She’s really good in that she will, especially when it’s an Irish event, she’ll love to wear Irish designers. It was a really big deal for her to wear Simone Rocha going to the Twilight premiere. It probably wasn’t a decision that everyone was happy with; agents and that in America but Saoirse said ‘No, that’s what I want to wear’!”
However with Saoirse spending a lot of time across the pond on film sets and shoots, I was really interested to find out how she and Grace co-ordinate their schedules and sieve through prospective red carpet pieces.
“Email and on the phone, there’s been FaceTime and lots of Skype. Her running in and out, trying things on. I kind of take control of everything and then send her what I think she’ll like or else a picture of a whole collection and ask her ‘What’s your favourites?’ Generally, I’ll say, with Simone Rocha for example, ‘I love looks 2, 4 and 6’, and then she’ll say ‘I love looks 2, 4 and 8’ and then we’ll realise that looks two and four is definitely in the running as we both liked them. That’s kind of how we niggle things down!”
When your work is in the public eye, you are continuously open to large amounts of criticism from around the world. It’s something that would definitely take a while for me to get used to but Grace seems to take it in her stride.
“It’s probably a very clichéd thing to say but Saoirse would say that ‘Oh, I don’t read the papers, I don’t know anything about myself’ – I do read the papers but I don’t really mind what they say. The likes of shows such as Xposé, of course they’re going to have an opinion, that’s what it’s all about. Everybody is different so I would never be personally upset by someone saying that they didn’t like what Saoirse wore but if Saoirse wasn’t happy with the outfit that we chose, then that would affect me. That’s never the case though, she is always one hundred per cent happy and I’m always one hundred per cent happy and that’s really all that matters.”
Although, Grace’s Mam is the typical supportive and protective Irish Mammy, as Grace herself said;
“My Mam would probably get a little offended. She’d say, ‘The cheek of them, they can’t be saying those things about you’. I’d try and tell her that, ‘It’s grand, you don’t like what they’re wearing, therefore you’re giving an opinion too. Which everyone is entitled to!’”
I have a feeling that my Mam would be the very same.
Before I let Grace finish her latte, I asked her one final question – what advice would she give to those who yearn to fill her shoes?
“I just can’t emphasise how hard you have to work and only people who really love it and who really want it will survive. I was really lucky but one way or another if Saoirse hadn’t of come along, and she kind of gave me my big break, I would still be working as hard as I always did. Probably harder actually because I couldn’t say things like ‘I dress Saoirse Ronan sometimes’ but work hard, it’s really the only thing you can do.”
Would you like to know more about Grace?
Of course you would!