Thursday 30 March 2017

Society: Women's awards get down to business

Lucy Gaffney and her daughter Rachel at the Image Businesswomen of the Year Awards 2015. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Lucy Gaffney and her daughter Rachel at the Image Businesswomen of the Year Awards 2015. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Darine and Ciara Kennedy with Nikki Flanagan at the Image Businesswomen of the Year Awards 2015. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Ingrid Hoey and Catherine Kelly at the launch of the Balmain X H&M collection at their College Green Flagship store. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Lottie, Babette and Morah Ryan at the launch of the Balmain X H&M collection at their College Green Flagship store. Photo: Kieran Harnett
Celia Holman Lee at the VIP Style Awards
Cecilia Ahern with Ryan Tubridy from RTE
DESIGNER: Chupi Sweetman
Moya Doherty and John McColgan
Brid Dooley, Sandra Collins and Natalie Harrower at the launch of RTÉ 1916 in the National Gallery of Ireland. Photo: Andres Poveda
The Vards
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

It's been a week of powerful, dynamic women, starting with the 2015 IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year awards at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel on Monday .

Marian O'Gorman, ceo of the Kilkenny Group, graciously handed over her award of Businesswoman of the Year to this year's recipient, Anne Heraty, ceo of Cpl Resources plc.

I decided to give my blue Manolo Blahniks a twirl and I had forgotten just how comfortable they are after four hours. I'm still a little bemused at how intrigued women are with them all those years after Carrie wore them, got married in them and left them behind in her closet in Sex And The City 2.

Afterwards, I enjoyed a cool drink with the KDK sisters, Dairine and Keira Kennedy whose latest collection of cashmere scarves promises to be big Christmas gifting favourites. How do these girls do it ? They both gave birth to baby sons this year, Con and William, so Christmas with Santa should be very special for them.

The style, and networking, was quite exceptional and afterwards there was a queue to meet Mary Finan, the former chair of the RTÉ Authority, and one of the founding partners of Wilson Hartnell Pr who delivered a great speech, but she knew she had big boots to fill because Breege O'Donoghue's memorable acceptance speech in 2014 is still being talked about by business women a year later.

Some of the same faces headed down midweek to a private view of the keenly awaited Balmain collection for H&M, at their flagship store on College Green.

Just listening to the chat in the dressing rooms was priceless as girls were convinced by pals whether to buy or not to buy. One celebrity, who will remain nameless, was on the brink of buying the slash-front green dress, but when she came out of the dressing room and saw statuesque Rosanna Davison with it, she had second thoughts!

Stylist to the stars, Ingrid Hoey, was delighted with her navy peacoat purchase and she headed off in the night looking impossibly leggy and cool in a grey suede jeans and white Balmain logo tee with Catherine Kelly, owner of Cocobelle Dublin. They met up with Louise Stokes from Loulerie and their other pal, Amy Huberman, for dinner at Balfes in the Westbury Hotel, which is fast becoming the fashionable spot in Dublin.

Celia's ready to dazzle with her City of Fashion

By Bairbre Power

I  really don't know how she does it, but Celia Holman Lee is a style  superwoman and when she told me that she will celebrate her 65th birthday on December 2, I nearly fell off the chair.

Talk about great genes, this woman is incredible.

We spent some of last week out at Mark Nixon's studio in Clontarf, doing a fashion shoot - and with Miriam O'Callaghan photobombing us, let's just say it was an afternoon of fun and great chat.

If there is one thing Celia never stops talking about, it is about how great fashion is in Limerick. She is like an unofficial fashion mayor and this month, she is driving the 'City of Fashion' campaign from November 23-27.

I fully expect to see lots of her friends down, like her VBF Annette Rocca who I usually meet with Celia and her husband Ger at the races, but they managed to get a break with friends in Cannes last June.

Tubs throws shapes at book awards

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Brace yourselves; Ryan Tubridy is dusting off his sparkly ­spandex trousers and learning how to throw serious shapes in advance of the silly season.

"I'm taking dance classes and learning how to move properly," he said at the launch of the BGE Irish Book of the Year Awards.

"It's for the Late Late. We're going all Strictly Come Toy Show. And I am wearing a very unbecoming ensemble."

Tubs was just one of the self-confessed "book worms" and authors to crowd into the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre this week for the official launch.

Donal Skehan, Joe Duffy, Marty Whelan and Sinéad Moriarty all milled about holding hardback copies of their work.

Cecelia Ahern was beaming and with good reason; her novel Flawed has been picked up by Warner Brothers.

"It's the same team who were behind PS I Love You," she said.

"I'm working on the sequel now, which is called Perfect. They have optioned both so they could make one movie or three."

Author of the Virtuous Tart, Susan Jane White, was already looking forward to the awards night itself, which will kick off later this month.

"I feel so giddy and nervous," she said. "The fact that I get to party with Louise O'Neill and Eoin Colfer - that's what I am really excited about."

Hurling star Henry Shefflin was already feeling the competition. "Sure everyone is delighted at first but then the competition sets in and we all want to win," he said.

Shefflin has been nominated in the Sports Book of the Year category but says he has no intention of penning a second volume. "Absolutely not. I'm done now."

Louise O'Neill, author of Asking for It, chatted about moving back home to West Cork.

"I just signed a two-book deal but haven't thought about what I am going to write," she said. "I'll move home in January and start writing. That's what I am telling my editor, anyway."

RTÉ's Keelin Shanley looked refreshed having returned from a holiday in Morocco. "I don't feel it," she laughed. "I'm still getting used to the early morning starts on radio."

Chupi's designs fit for a Queen in NY

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Jewellery designer Chupi Sweetman-Pell got a right royal surprise when Buckingham Palace placed an order for some of her sparkly bangles and bracelets. 

"It was pretty surreal," the delightfully named designer said.

Having showcased her designs at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery, Chupi hopped on a plane to the Big Apple to attend the NY Now trade show.

"This month has been insane but in an amazing way," she said. "Next month we're in Paris and showing at London and New York Fashion Week."

According to Chupi, her pieces are designed to appeal to "our inner magpie".

"So lots of sparkle," she laughed. But it's not all work for Chupi; she's been making sure to sample Manhattan's culinary delights. "I'm a huge foodie. My favourite thing to do is eat my way around NY."

Tech is out and vinyl's back in

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Alas and alack; the Web Summit is done and dusted. But before all those tech-savvy entrepreneurs get too upset I come with good news. Hip festival Metropolis Festival is setting up shop in the RDS this weekend.

Mark Ronson, Chic, Jamie XX are all performing at the uber cool gig.

But I was more interested in hearing about the ginormous vinyl-covered bar James Earley is setting up in the Shelbourne Hall.

Even if you haven't heard of James, chances are you've probably seen his work.

He's the chap who painted Temple Bar's Bloom Hotel in techni-colour glory, selected all the artwork for hip hangout The Dean Hotel and painted all the bright yellow signage on the wall of the Aviva stadium. An eclectic portfolio to say the least.

"The Web Summit is out and we're in," he said. "It's very exciting."

James is one of five artists selected by Bulmers to construct giant art pieces for the two-day festival.

I bumped into James en route to the launch of RTÉ's 1916 programme in the National Gallery, where the evergreen Moya Doherty, RTÉ's DG Noel Curran and the Taoiseach all spoke patriotically.

Singing sisters' new album is just Heavenly

By Bairbre Power

The Clintons, Bill and Hill, were wowed by the celestial voices of the Vard sisters when they sang for them at Dublin Castle, and now the sisters are back with a new album, looking twice as glamorous as before.

There was a time when guests went to weddings just to hear Lisa, Wendy and Cathy sing and while they were beaten by Jedward to go to Eurovision, they had the pleasure of seeing their first album, Heavenly, achieve over triple platinum sales.

This week I met them for the launch of Heavenly Too, a collection of 18 favourite songs from their vast repertoire. The siblings popped open some bubbly with their parents, Leslie and Lucy and brothers, Conor and Derek , to celebrate its launch yesterday in all record shops, iTunes and from their website, churchweddingsingers.ie.

The album celebrates 15 years singing together, and they even fitted in a fashion shoot for today's Weekend magazine in between their work as one of the most 'in demand' singers on the wedding/ corporate event circuit.

A tour is being planned in the new year with dates in the US, so Bill and Hill might get to see them again!

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