Friday 21 October 2016

A tale of two Claires: How Byrne takes inspiration from Underwood

Authoritative power looks for the modern woman

Published 18/10/2015 | 02:30

Claire Byrne (left) and Claire Underwood (right)
Claire Byrne (left) and Claire Underwood (right)
Claire Byrne in Heidi Higgins
Anita Flavin's 'Emma' shoe.
Heidi Higgins Cecanne dress, €475
Kiera dress by Heidi Higgins
The character Claire Underwood from House of Cards is an inspirational dresser for Claire Byrne.
Barkis dress, Roland Mouret, €1,400, Brown Thomas
Crisp white shirt: Autograph shirt with bib front, €49, M&S

Lunching recently with broadcaster Claire Byrne at the inaugural Tiffany Ireland Funds lunch, I enquired who she modelled her wardrobe style on and, without stopping for a second to think, she replied "Claire Underwood from House of Cards."

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Claire Byrne shops herself for her Monday night show on RTÉ One and is clearly smitten by the designs of fellow Portlaoise woman, Heidi Higgins.

Claire was wearing Heidi with a caramel and gold-flecked tweed lamé dress to the lunch, and she also wore a Heidi Higgins 'Lily' blouse with pussy-bow tie twinned with a slimline skirt on her TV show earlier in the month. The week before, it was a combo of Reiss skirt and a shirt from Debenhams.

"I'm just mixing and matching, pulling all the time and I'm doing it myself," said Claire, adding: "I use Claire Underwood from House of Cards as my inspiration. You know that elegant sort of look, it's powerful yet it's stylish, but it's not overtly sexy and that's the line I have to tread. I don't want too much flesh on show. I love fashion, I love style I want to be on trend but not be a slave to it."

Claire Byrne
Claire Byrne

Claire Underwood fans go far beyond the allure of the powerful blonde bob and many single out the TV character's ability to deliver bold femininity.

Blue is clearly good for First Lady Underwood. Who can forget the ice-blue dress for the presidential portrait which HoC clothing designer Kemal Harris devised so the, seemingly demure, round neckline was just low enough to expose Claire's 'cold shoulder.' This first lady never forgets the effect of a slim belt and is a true expert at wearing powerful blue, playing the political boys at their own game. She has attracted lots of fan mail for her delivery on androgynous chic - thick specs, trench coats and white shirts. They worked a treat for Underwood, who has also perfected the art of the unfussy, tailored silhouette and demands the right to bare legs.

Learn from the House of Cards costume expert Johanna Argan, who says the secret to achieving Claire Underwood's style is "all about tailoring and clean lines, and looks to body-skimming in a sophisticated, age-appropriate way."

The way this TV first lady left her husband speechless in the dust at the end of season three - wearing a second-skin Burberry dress and a Max Mara jacket - I must confess, I'm bursting with curiosity to see how Ms Underwood's politics, family dynamics and fashion sense will change when she returns next year.

If the shoe fits

And speaking of other powerful women who bring a sartorial originality to their professional lives, barrister Amal Alamuddin-Clooney is wearing shoes designed by Irishwoman Anita Flavin. Anita designs for the Ennio Mecozzi brand. I reported here in spring that moves were afoot and Italian-made, butter-soft leather shoes including the 'Emma' were dispatched. They cost €390 from 

Irish Independent

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