At home on a royal stage, stylish first lady turns heads
IT wasn't just her stunning wardrobe of Irish designer clothes, it was Sabina Higgins' poise, posture and actor's presence that really turned heads on the presidential state visit to the UK this week.
As a former thespian, the statuesque Galway woman knows only too well about how to 'command your space' on stage – and the Stanislavski-trained actress did that in spades over the past few days as the world's cameras turned on the presidential visitors to the royal stage of Windsor Castle, the Guildhall and the Royal Albert Hall.
While Mrs Higgins has impressed during her husband's tenure at the Aras, this week we truly saw her come into her own, step out from behind her husband's shadow and blossom in front of our eyes and, people will, I believe, have a greater sense of the first lady as she returns home this weekend.
Nothing was left to accident for the visit and while Mrs Higgins had an ace wardrobe adviser in her friend – Emmy-winning costume designer Joan Bergin – the first lady was hands on in choosing outfits and accessories.
Ms Bergin's genius lies in devising appropriate, memorable costumes and, for Sabina, she layered up strong block colours with richly textured accessories. The first lady never fell into the trap of the clothes-wearing-her. She held the gaze of the cameras confidently, knowing those Nessa Cronin headpieces that she had personally chosen the previous week in the Mad Hatter shop on Dublin's Lower Stephen Street, wouldn't move.
Her three Louise Kennedy outfits on the first day were a blinding success and Aideen Bodkin, another presidential favourite with the Marys – Robinson and McAleese – was responsible for the glamorous pink and gold lace dress and short jacket worn at Thursday's Ceiliuradh. The red 'Alanna'-woven jacquard coat and dress by Caroline Kilkenny, which she wore on Wednsday morning, was sophisticated and ideal for the outdoors.
The exposure on the world stage has turned Mrs Higgins into something of a fashion trigger, with admiring ladies tracking down the inside story on those outfits. Her royal blue dress and cape-style jacket from the Italian label Caractere, which she wore to the designer fashion lunch at the Irish Embassy on Wednesday, triggered interest at Harvey Nichols in Dublin where they sell for €245 and €255.
The Kilkenny store on Nassau Street had inquiries after the first lady wore a funnel-necked satin coat and dress designed by Dublin mum Fiona Heaney for the Fee G label and, of course, there was that pop of colour from Orla Kiely whose handbags are famous the world over.