Paul Galvin: Be my Valentine
Paul Galvin styles Georgia Salpa, showing women how to dress and men how to impress on this most romantic of weekends. Photography: James Horan
It's that time of year again: the second weekend in February. There's a scent of romance and a sense of je ne sais quoi in the air; the time of year when Irish men become a little apprehensive but also expectant; the one time of year when we will unashamedly use pet names to express our affection for loved ones... "Go Drico", "Heave Paulie", "Brilliant Rog!!"
That's right, the French are in town for our first Six Nations game in the new Aviva stadium. Let's hope we get the right result. Go Ireland.
Monday, of course, is Valentine's Day. A little less action, a little more conversation please, say the girls, and rightly so. The primal, screaming barbarian men of the Aviva on Sunday 13 will transform overnight into sensitive, sweet-nothing-whispering creatures of love and cuddliness.
Ah, the power of women. We're simple beings, us guys. Show us a ball and a jersey and we'll scream at the top of our lungs. Show us a beautiful woman and we'll whisper -- that's if we don't go the whole hog and fall completely mute.
Okay, I'm generalising a little here.
To the matter in hand. Valentine's Day, a perfect opportunity to show your romantic side and do something nice for your partner. There are two camps when it comes to February 14: some (couples) like to embrace it for what it is; others (singles) are more cynical and see it as mere commercialism. The people most in love on Valentine's Day are the card manufacturers, the florists and the lingerie stores.
I'm not too sure what it is myself. I mean, if you're waiting for February 14 to come round every year to show your loved one how much you care for her or him, then it's possible you're missing the point of what being in a relationship is all about in the first place. Not that we do. I think Irish men, most men in fact, are romantics at heart -- we just don't like to admit it.
I'm not sure what to make of Valentine's Day as an adult. What you do for your loved one is personal, and what's romantic to one may not be to another. Your gift is all relative to your experiences as a couple and your knowledge of your partner.
It could be a copy of that song she fell in love with on holiday last summer but could never remember the name of until you tracked it down, or it could be that Cassie black-and-gold sequinned dress she saw in Chica over Christmas but couldn't afford.
All you have to do is listen and you'll get it right. Valentine's gifts needn't break the bank. Post-Christmas sales can take the pain out of it if funds are low. Most high-street stores are still stocking sale items. Chica boutique in the Westbury Mall stocks lots of great options, from the gorgeous maxi (page 7) to the black-and-gold Cassie dress (page 6), or the eye-catching Lucas Jack ring and Dimitriadis earrings -- there's something for everyone and it's all very affordable.
If you want to take some of the pain out of being a male rattling through rails of party dresses and tops and inspecting accessories in a chic ladies' boutique, then do what I did and look online first. Pick out what you like and make like a thief, smash and grab, in and out quickly. Less stress, more success.
Clothes are a great gift for your woman. When asked to style Georgia for the magazine, I found her really interesting to dress. She has a very striking face and a versatility that is unusual. It's like Kim Kardashian meets Cheryl Cole meets the girl next door. The opportunity to dress her up and do something a little different with her was exciting.
I saw a picture of her taken by Kip Carroll recently and her face and neckline looked incredibly striking and defined, so while the strapless green maxi dress might not be your typical dinner-date or going-out dress, when I saw it I just felt it would look great on her and accentuate her best features, which, for me, are her eyes and her collarbones.
The colour really sets off her eyes and skin tone and it's strapless, so it accentuates her neckline and collarbone area, which is very elegant and feminine and overlooked at times when it comes to considering a woman's beauty.
The black-and-gold Cassie dress is perfect for a Valentine's dinner date and will take you comfortably from restaurant to club. When you wear a dress as well as this girl, accessories are best kept to a minimum. The bangles are good stacked on one wrist with the Cassie dress, which really needs a shoe boot to work best. The sequins capture the light of the camera well, too, adding some sparkle.
The Lucas Jack ring is simple yet eye-catching and complements the dress nicely.
The gold shoes are also Jimmy Choo and go well with either outfit. Other than that, the looks are very simple and are worn by the woman, rather than vice versa.
The most stylish women, the real style icons, are those who make it look effortless and keep it simple. Or, rather, their beauty and confidence are so apparent that they can afford to keep it simple.
It rarely is effortless, of course, but truly stylish women carry themselves with an aura of confidence, an allure that makes the clothes look even more elegant and special. They embody good taste, style and fashion, making the clothes almost secondary to their own charisma.
Icons of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, such as Coco Chanel, Bianca Jagger and Jackie Onassis provided inspiration to a generation of style icons such as Diane Kruger, Sienna Miller and Kate Moss, who in turn have led the way for a newer generation again such as Rihanna, Leigh Lezark, Edie Campbell and Daisy Lowe.
You get the feeling, however, that none of these women have ever copied the style of others, but instead share the same spirit of independence, individuality and poise that set them apart and make the clothes look great, rather than the other way around.
Coco Chanel was an eternal trendsetter, never a follower. She was a pioneer with a vision for how she wanted to look that made her iconic. That said, not all women will be satisfied with a piece of clothing on Valentine's Day, and the world would be a poorer place if they all were. They need to be stimulated on an emotional level also.
That dress you get her because you remember she loves it but can't afford it will mean a lot more to her than another, perhaps more expensive one.
A book, a poem, a handwritten letter or a song might be the way to other hearts. It all depends on how well you know her and how attentively you listen to her.
What would I do this Valentine's Day?
I'd probably just keep it simple. Nothing over the top. Maybe get home before her, run her a hot bath, light some candles in the bathroom, pour her a glass of her favourite wine, play her Ellie Goulding's version of 'Your Song' on my i-station and let her lie there to soak and relax... for at least 80 minutes while I run downstairs, throw myself on the couch and watch a re-run of us hammering the French!
Shot on location at the Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4