Society: Biba Barbara planning an Irish visit
It's not every Wednesday morning you get to interview one of your fashion heroes, a legendary, real deal, 18 carat, designer style icon who is still much admired 38 years after she dressed David Bowie, Marianne Faithfull, Brigitte Bardot and Mick Jagger, earning herself the title of London's Queen of Cool.
Barbara Hulanicki is her name but most people probably know her best for her Biba label of clothes and interiors.
Barbara's Biba store was an altar to art deco in gold and black, in the seven-storey Derry & Toms department store in Kensington.
They attracted up to a million customers weekly. It was one of the most visited tourist attractions in London and they sold everything from leopard-print underpants to beans wrapped in a Biba label.
Among the young staff was an Anna Wintour, who later became editor of American Vogue.
Barbara now lives in Miami where neighbours include Louis Walsh. She moved there with her late husband, Fitz (Stephen Fitz-Simon) whose family were Irish and Barbara told me she plans to visit here.
One good reason could be the launch of her new Biba Heritage collection which goes on sale in the House of Fraser in Dundrum Town Centre next week.
The Biba founder is returning to the brand she founded 50 years ago and Dublin is one of the House of Fraser (HOF) stores chosen to sell the pieces inspired by her iconic and unique 70s aesthetic.
There are nine pieces and production is limited to 250 pieces of each style, explained Barbara who lives one street in from the coast in Miami and runs a busy interiors practice.
Her first project began with Woody's on the Beach which she designed in 1987 for Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones, and other projects encompassed work for Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Chris Blackwell of Island Records.
Famous for her blonde, short bob and her signature Cutler & Gross big specs, Barbara describes fellow designer Rick Owen as "a genius."
One of the standout pieces in the Biba Heritage capsule collection - which is different to the mainline Biba range at HOF - is a black leather swing coat which I know Barbara will be wearing in Miami because she "always wears black."
"Everything matches, it makes life easier," she says, with a laugh.
Marco and guests raise a glass to remember Paolo
By Bairbre Power
Marco Pierre White (pictured with business partner Geraldine Fitzpatrick), held court in culinary style on Thursday night when I attended the final night's filming of the new look The Restaurant Red Carpet Show on TV3 which airs in January.
The new venue for the show, Marco Pierre White Courtyard Bar & Grill in Donnybrook, was packed with guests who clearly followed the suggested style code of 'Dress to Impress.'
I certainly enjoyed my lobster and mango starter and mains of fillet of turbot with saffron potatoes. My dining companion was very happy with his marinated lamb with wilted spinach.
We raised a glass to remember our late colleague, Weekend's reviewer, Paolo Tullio, who was such a big part of this popular TV show for so long.
Fascinators on losing streak at Longines
By Kirsty Blake Knox
The demise of the fascinator was a hot topic of conversation at the launch of the Longines Irish Champions weekend.
"Philip Treacy says the word fascinator sounds like some sort of sex toy and I'd agree," milliner Martha Lynn said matter-of-factly. "Thankfully, fascinators have finally moved aside and are making room for stand-out hats."
It was a stylish evening; models Karen Fitzpatrick and Sarah McGovern welcomed the who's who of the racing world to Stillorgan's Radisson Blu.
Trainers Aidan and Annemarie O'Brien, Jim and Jackie Bolger, Michael Halford and Tom Hogan all talked about "the going" while five spice Tanqueray cocktails were handed out by suited and booted waiters.
Designer Louise Kennedy was looking refreshed following a visit to The Hamptons. "I'm heading out to Delhi in the morning to add the final embellishments to our summer 2016 collection," she said. "And then we go to Paris in two weeks. We're always thinking two seasons ahead."
Ivan Yates was on MC duties and kept the crowd entertained and informed with a mix of racing tips and witty quips.
Orla Murtagh, the wife of retired jockey Johnny, spoke of the ecstasy of being first passed the post.
"If you could bottle the feeling of having a winner you'd be a millionaire," she said. "It's electric - nothing else beats it."
The Shelbourne's resident Style Butler Marietta Doran milled about while minister Simon Coveney caught up with Tamso Doyle of Baroda Stud.
Horse trainer Jessica Harrington was still riding high after her success in Galway and told us all about her secret love of medical drama Holby City. "We named Jack Naylor after one of the lead characters who's a real troublemaker," she said.
The Champions Weekend sees two of Ireland's premier racecourses, Leopardstown and the Curragh, join forces. "It's a meeting of greats," former RTÉ broadcaster Tom McGurk said.
Mr Juan-Carlos Capelli, vice-president at Longines, recalled studying in Cork many moons ago. "They called me John Murphy because no one could pronounce Juan-Carlos," he said before recalling formative months spent by the River Lee. "You can always tell a Cork man," Ivan Yates said. "But you can't tell him anything."
Shane's raging bull to take fringe by storm
By Kirsty Blake Knox
'Bull fighting is quite camp really," actor Shane O'Reilly told me outside the Project Arts Centre.
"I mean, have you seen those matador pants?"
He's got a point.
The award-winning actor spent the summer in Spain watching bull fights as research for his latest stage show Matador which will run as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe.
"Watching the fights was surreal. Adrenalin was pumping, people were jumping and shouting."
The actor acknowledges that there are few similarities between matadors and Irish dairy farmers but conceded; "whether it's a farmer in overalls or a matador in the corrida, the bull will charge."
Good to know.
I ran into Shane and Tiger Fringe Director Kris Nelson at the opening night of the National Youth Theatre's new show Salt Mountain.
Fair City actress Clelia Murphy's daughter Clarabelle is one of the lead actresses in the show.
"Like mother, like daughter," Clarabelle laughed.
Roz will serve up a treat at Staple Foods
By Kirsty Blake Knox
Super models used to survive on a diet of champagne and cigarettes. But these days, quinoa salads and kale juices are their vice.
No wonder then that health food Mecca Staple Foods has built up a loyal following with Ireland's "clean eating" brigade including model Teodora Sutra and designer Sonya Lennon.
Now the eatery has spread its wings and set up a new branch on Grattan Street right above uber chic pilates studio Form School - owned by rugby star Gordon D'Arcy and his wife Aoife Cogan.
Founder Kevin Mulvany is the brains behind the operation. "It's been a hectic few weeks and lots of late nights," he said. "But it's starting to take shape".
Model Roz Purcell will also serve up her Natural Born Feeder baked goods at the joint in coming months.
The launch of D2 bar and restaurant, The Camden Exchange, was a slightly less wholesome affair with graffiti artists downing Bulleit bourbon cocktails. The place was packed with skinny-jean wearing hipsters including 'Agustin' - Dublin number one "street percussionist". "The Camden Exchange is an incubator for newness," founder Stephen Jones said.
Special delivery for Glossybox gal Rachel
By Bairbre Power
Congrats to my former Terenure neighbour, Rachel Kavanagh, the MD of Glossybox UK & Ireland, who gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Esme Rose, this month.
Rachel and her husband, businessman Shane McGill, married in the south of France and they have a son, Rhys .
The former Fair City actress and false tan entrepreneur now heads up Glossybox in London.
They operate in 10 different countries over two continents and incredibly, Glossybox sells one box every 12 seconds and reaches over 200,000 beauty-loving women every month.
Since launching in 2011 they have partnered with over 700 international brands and their August 'globetrotting' box had a mix of great beauty products, cherry picked from the UK, USA, Sweden and Spain.