Saturday 18 November 2017

Brief history of Irish modelling

Tanya Sweeney

It is thought that when Queen Victoria was visiting Ireland in the wake of the Famine circa 1850, she was impressed by the "beauty" of the female populace despite their sufferings. Some four decades later, Irish 'Tatler' was launched, thus becoming the country's first style bible (and one of the first publications to use Irish models).

Originally called 'Lady Of The House', the magazine first comprised cartoons. A sister publication, 'Woman's Way', was launched in the 1950s, providing yet more opportunities for would-be models. Later in the 1960s, the 'RTE Guide' launched the careers of many models, including American-born Ann Davis. Ann wore the designs of Glynis Miller, a student who won second in the Eurofashion Competition in 1968. That win boosted the Irish industry.

County car shows and modest fashion events provided another outlet for models in the 1970s and 1980s, with fashion shows rising in popularity. The rising star of the era was Dutch-born Marian Eringaard, a beauty with exquisitely fine features.

Mari O'Leary was one of the most popular working models of these decades; reminiscent of Isabella Rosselini, she was one of the few Irish models to travel and work abroad.

Around this time, the 'Sunday World' began regularly running pictures of models in its pages. In the early 1990s, Mags Humphries of Assets floated the idea of using her models to sell more than just clothes, and the photocall as we know it was born. Sonia Reynolds, Laura Bermingham, Amanda Byram and Natasha Byram were the leading lights of the 1990s, and are largely thought to have turned the relatively modest Irish modelling industry into the more lucrative and dynamic business it is today.

Irish Independent

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