Then and Now: We meet the contestants of TV3 reality show Style Wars five years later
In March 2010, TV3 put out an open casting call for their new reality TV show, Style Wars, where they advertised their search for "the next big thing" in the Irish fashion world.
I applied, not for a second thinking I’d actually get on the show!
What followed was six weeks of fashion tasks, tears and tantrums, and constructive (and destructive) feedback from the Judges, Caprice Bourret, Peter O’Brien and Ian Galvin. David Greene was eventually crowned the winner, and went on to work with Oasis and Karen Millen in London.
Having only ever watched one episode of the show, I was traumatised to hear TV3 were re-running the series again on Friday nights. Up until now, it’s something I’ve tried to push to back of my mind but enough time has passed for me to be able to look back and laugh. I tracked down eight of my fellow contestants to get the low down on how the show affected both their lives and careers, if it lived up to their expectations, how they coped in the aftermath and what they’re up to now.
Niamh Ní Shúilleabháin
"Sometimes I regret that at times I took it too seriously."
"I was reared in my Mom's boutique but after college I worked for years in software licensing. In 2009, I studied Fashion Buying & Management in DIT but when it was finished I was at a loss where to go next. Filling in the Style Wars application seemed like a good idea as I thought completing the questions would help me figure out what I wanted to do in fashion. Then I got on the show!
Sometimes I regret that at times I took it too seriously, and that I didn't have more fun with it. I hoped the show would give me a 'eureka moment' or something would magically fall on my lap. That didn't happen, so I continued presenting at Raidio na Life, going to a million music festivals and lapped up the Style Wars attention when I got 'recognised'. If I had the chance to do the show now, I probably wouldn’t.
I loved radio, but when sabbatical funds ran low I returned to software consulting and am working with Sam360 since 2011. To subsidize my social life, I DJ under the moniker Hula Hoops and my next appearance is at the Another Love Story festival in the beautiful surroundings of Killyon Manor, Co Meath in August. "
The application form asked us to describe ourselves in three words and I jokingly replied: "Absolutely friggin' fabulous"'
"I actually applied completely on the off-chance and took the mick out of the initial application form - one question was ‘describe yourself in three words’, to which I jokingly replied ‘absolutely friggin’ fabulous!’. They quoted me on that in every single article about the show! At the time, I'd just finished working with Vivienne Westwood in London and hadn't planned out the next step yet. I had expected it to be used to create entertainment, but didn’t quite realise how much of it was going to be.
I really felt like some of it of it had been predetermined I felt that the judging was often quite unrealistic, with Caprice often getting angry and annoyed with the contestants only to create drama. I also really didn’t like the fact that we weren’t told the prize of the competition until a few episodes into filming. This is one of the reasons I asked to be removed from the show after the first episode.
They persuaded me to stay, but worked it into the programme that I would be eliminated in the second episode. I adored judge Peter O’Brien, who had a great way of being critical, constructive, nice and funny all wrapped into one. It was a great life lesson at such a young age, having only turned 18 a week before I applied! Right now, I’m about to finish a degree at London College of Fashion, who have just created an Instagram account documenting my work called @Broiderybitch."
"I've no regrets about doing the show; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
"I had just come out of running my own fashion business and was looking for a new challenge. The show wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, although none of us had had any idea what to expect. The tasks on the show ended up being very design-oriented and as my skills are more fashion and style focused. The judging process was definitely the hardest part of filming.
The tension and pressure building up while waiting to hear about eliminations was a nightmare, and of course, the thoughts of being criticised on national TV weren't very pleasant either! I've no regrets about doing the show; it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and to be selected from such a large number of applicants was a real privilege. Now I look back at it as a great memory and say 'Wow, I did that!'
As a result of the show, I ended up getting offered a position as a personal shopper in Arnotts which I really enjoyed during my time there. The show didn't result in any major new change in direction my career or life. I've been working in Ted Baker now for the past four years and I love it. I'm also available for consulting (firstname.lastname@example.org) where I offer advice on any style issue or fashion dilemma."
"I recently found my old application and nearly collapsed at how overly confident I was!"
"My mother was the one who insisted I apply for the show. I recently found it in an old email folder and nearly collapsed at how overly confident I was. I originally didn’t make it to the final 10, but someone pulled out and I got a call a few days before production offering me a place.
Filming was a rollercoaster. I was a sales assistant at the time so I’m fairly sure my loud personality got me on and to the final. I loved how creative everything was, but found it difficult working as part of a team with people I was in direct competition in.
If a reality TV opportunity were to arise now, there is no way I would do it – Twitter didn’t really exist back then and I don’t think I cope with it now. I ended up coming second, and was offered a job as Visual Merchandiser in Oasis, then moved on to Gap.
I loved it for a while, but it made me realise I’m just not cut out for the 9-5 work life. For the past two years I’ve been working for myself as a fashion illustrator, and my fans include Kim Kardashian and Cosmopolitan magazine. I recently began to feel a little isolated in my studio so made the decision to get a part time job. I am now balancing my illustrating, writing for this very website and doing social media, visual merchandising and mannequin styling for a gorgeous boutique called Soho Market for a day or so every week."
"The show was exactly what I expected - tales and tantrums galore!"
"I approached Style Wars as the gateway into an industry I was dying to work in. It was exactly what I had expected - tales and tantrums galore. My favourite thing about the show was of course, winning. My prize was a job in London with Aurora Fashions.
After my contract finished, I moved on to new projects, set up a store with friends, continued styling editorials and working shows at London Fashion Week. Anything I'm working on now wasn't at all related to the show or the prize. Not that I'm not grateful. I moved to London because of the show. At the moment, I have two show clients at London Fashion Week and I'm now working alongside the emerging menswear talent division of the British Fashion Council to feature new design talent for editorial.
I've worked with Rihanna on her project for River Island too which was great fun. Next on the agenda is finding an agent in London and possibly Ireland too to represent me. It would be nice to be working more at home (Ireland will always be home) as my family are there and I think Dublin is on the verge of something exciting creatively speaking. You can follow me on instagram at @Dogreene."
"Now I work as a personal stylist with Saoirse Ronan and Hozier."
I applied for Style Wars because I was looking for a challenge. I was working in Topshop at the time as a visual merchandiser and so many people had told me to apply, as they thought the show was made for me. I don’t regret doing the show – but I still cringe when I think about it! I learned many lessons and met so many lovely people, whom I'm still friends with now.
With the judges, Peter was definitely my favourite - I love him! Straight after the show I went back to normal life working in Topshop doing VM. I did more styling on the side and began working with Saoirse Ronan and eventually went freelance. I now work with Saoirse and Hozier doing personal styling as well as editorial shoots for Irish and international publications.
My career highlight so far has been assisting Grace Coddington for American Vogue when she shot in Co Kerry. I had my first baby Izzy, last October so after a few months off I’m back to styling shoots."
"The worst moment was crying on TV, you get so caught up in the moment."
"My mum suggested I apply to help me move to London where my goal was to bag a job at Net-A-Porter. It was such a diverse group of people and we had such a laugh filming so overall a great learning experience. Juggling a full time job and shooting two days a week was really difficult though. And the stress of coming up with a new outfit for every episode was pretty immense!
The worst moment was crying on TV, you get so caught up in the moment and I regret being so vulnerable and emotional.
After I was eliminated, I continued working in American Apparel in Dublin for four months and then got promoted and moved to London where I became an Area Visuals manager and had a district of stores in London. the UK, Ireland and Germany. After that, I finally got the job at Net-A-Porter!
Right now, I'm working as a Deputy Styling Editor for theoutnet.com."
"Would I do the show again? You have got to be joking!"
"I applied for Style Wars as it looked like a bit of fun. I thought it might help me to market myself in Ireland (I'm originally from Wales) and I really wanted to launch my own menswear label. My favourite aspect of the show was the contestants - a truly genuine bunch of people. All from different backgrounds, all ambitious, all with a fire in their belly.
Facing the cameras on a daily basis was my worst nightmare but I never have any regrets about anything I do. After the show, I was trying to launch my own label, but things were difficult with the economic downturn so I put that on the backburner.
Would I do the show again? You have got to be joking! I recently launched a Fashion Academy for kids and adults. We provide a full fashion education in a fun environment in many locations around Dublin. We also run kids seasonal camps and birthday parties. Check out the website projectfashion.ie."
"These days, my focus is on my womenswear label."
"I was just back from working in New York at the time and boredom was my main reason for applying.
Was it what I expected? It was and it wasn't. Getting to meet like-minded creatives was amazing. We were all so different and yet our creativity was what made us all special and alike at the same time. The worst part was probably being booted out in the first week! I was never cut out for TV but I really missed everyone who worked on it and I think going back to 'real life' was definitely a shock to the system.
I opened a vintage boutique not long after on Drury Street in Dublin and a year after that started developing my womenswear label. I don’t think the show was a factor in my career only because I didn't work on on the label until much later.
My womenswear label Zoë Carol is growing steadily and my Autumn/Winter 2015 collection is about to hit shops in August. Spring/Summer 2016 is in development to. No rest for the wicked! www.zoecarol.com."