FYI: 5 talented Irish people behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week
The show could not go on without these five Irish power players.
Fashion Week might sound like a breeze: wearing chic outfits, schmoozing with the beautiful people and swilling champagne at star-studded after parties. But behind the glamour, there is a whole host of hard-working unsung heroes.
The Big Apple has been invaded by the most stylish people on the planet as the biannual NYFW kicks off. The global-scale event brings together thousands of people, so naturally I had to scope out the Irish involved in the madness, and pick their brains about how they survive with their sanity intact.
Yvonne Bannigan, personal assistant to Grace Coddington
Yvonne (in white shirt) appears in Teen Vogue September Issue with Grace Coddington
Dublin native Yvonne served her time doing menial jobs in various internships while she studied at the prestigious Parsons School of Design. Years spent in the fashion closet and assisting stylists eventually paid off when she landed the role with Coddington, former Creative Director of Vogue and one of the most influential visionaries in the fashion industry.
The 23-year-old told Independent.ie that her number one tip is to start the week relaxed by booking in for a facial. “It sounds like I’m being a diva but I always need that and a good night’s sleep,” she said. “Starting such a crazy week rested and refreshed makes all the difference to your attitude and stamina throughout. You’re more excited about the week rather than starting off dreading it. Also, lots of water and food - I had two lunches today,” she continued.
Yvonne added that the show she is most looking forward to this season is Marc Jacobs. “I walked by the casting at his Spring Street studio earlier this year and it was insane. There was a line of models down the whole block trying to get cast; it is the most sought after and anticipated show of NYFW. Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang are always a highlight too, but we have to watch the live stream from the office...there’s no chance of a ticket with such high demand.”
As for the elusive fashion week after show parties - Yvonne is most looking forward to accompanying her boss to an intimate dinner with Marc Jacobs. Although it will be tough to top her most memorable event of last season, where she spontaneously found herself sitting at a table with Rihanna.
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Michaela O’Shaughnessy, Social Media Producer, Teen Vogue
One glamorous Irish person you can expect to see sitting front row at the most illustrious runway shows with her iPhone glued to her hand is Michaela O’Shaughnessy. The brunette, who is well known for her personal style blog (www.lifeofaladybear.com), was recently hired to join the digital team at Teen Vogue (after no less than ten interviews).
I bumped into her at a show hours before she was due to attend Kanye West’s YEEZY Season 4 presentation; one of the most sought after shows on the schedule. Michaela (25) divulged that she always carrys the following three things in your handbag: a backup phone charger, a stack of business cards because you never know who you might meet, and a bag of Haribo because long days on your feet mean sugary treats are an essential.
Michaela added that the two events she is most looking forward to are the Kate Spade presentation and the carnival-themed Tommy Hilfiger’s show, where model Gigi Hadid will unveil her hotly anticipated design collaboration.
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John McAleenan, Digital Designer, WME IMG
Co Down man John McAleenan is the talent behind many of the NYFW related media that the world will see in wake of the event. The 26-year-old serves as a vital part of the creative team at the entertainment agency that owns and operates the entire event. During fashion week, he swaps his beloved Guinness for as much H2O as he can get his hands on: “I stay hydrated as much as possible. Luckily enough, we’re sponsored by the water brand Aquafina so it shouldn’t be too hard,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing my work through all our media channels and on social, it’s always very rewarding to see it come to life and be seen by millions of people worldwide.” You can check out his work from last season, and from the Miss Universe advertising campaign, here.
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Louise O’Reilly, Blogger and Fashion Force
Model Louise O’Reilly uses NYFW as an opportunity to network with power players in the industry. The Dubliner is in the City this week to meet fellow curve influencers and retailers who she may collaborate with on her blog, Style Me Curvy (www.stylemecurvy.net).
To get through the intense schedule of shows and events, Louise swears by her portable phone charger. “Low heels or pretty flat shoes are also a must,” she added. “Especially with the heat this week.”
Louise is most looking forward to seeing the colour palettes for the upcoming season, and keeping her eye on emerging trends to play around with. As an advocate for more inclusive casting on the runway, she is hoping to see more diversity on the catwalk this season.
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Julianna Grogan, Makeup Artist
For Raheny native Julianna (www.juliannagrogan.com), New York Fashion Week is a marathon not a sprint: the hectic lineup of shows and presentations means working two weeks straight is a necessary evil. Not that she is complaining, as it gives her an opportunity to paint some of the world’s most beautiful faces.
Julianna lent her talents backstage to designers including Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang and was also on the team that brought Kanye West’s YEEZY Season 4 vision to life.
When it comes to powering through the long days, Julianna said that her secret weapon is a mini fan and a vat of iced coffee. “It’s so humid here in New York and backstage is like a sauna,” she laughed.
Julianna will soon fly to Europe for shows in London, Paris and Milan. She maintains that the best part of her job is working alongside or legendary makeup maestros. “They’re so inspiring to me and the buzz of it all reminds me why I chose to move to New York. I also love seeing makeup and hair stylist friends backstage that I don’’t get to see between seasons – it’s a really nice reunion.”
And for the most important question, I had to know what product a makeup artist of Julianna’s calibre swears by. “Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish – it makes skin glow phenomenally!”
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Freya Drohan is a freelance journalist in New York // www.freya.drohan.net