Michelle Keegan on her love affair with Ireland, essential style advice and the first look at her clothing collection
Michelle Keegan's style transformation has been one of the most exciting to watch.
She burst onto the scene in 2008 as a big-haired, bushy-browed rising star of Coronation Street, always boasting an arguably intimidating level of beauty and a certain je ne sais quoi that comes with being an industry newcomer (she landed the part of Tina McIntyre after her first ever audition).
Fast forward 10 years and she's left the cobbles of Corrie behind and is landing critic-defying roles on BBC dramas, splitting her time between London and Los Angeles and celebrating the success of her growing brand. She has just launched her eponymous new collection with Littlewoods Ireland and when we speak, she is fresh from a week shooting in Mykonos, Greece; a destination chosen for its signature white architecture and clear bkue seas, hints of which are synonymous with Keegan's summer-infused wardrobe.
During our conversation, Michelle's passion for her range is both genuine and charming, and she explains that she looks to all aspects of life for inspiration to provide a clothing collection accessible to all women, with styles available up to a size 18.
"The feedback has been really positive. There's something for everyone and different occasions like summer holidays, birthdays or weddings. I wanted something that girls can pick out and feel comfortable in," she tells Independent.ie Style.
"It's a collection for everyone - every age group. Often when I'm walking down the street and see something that I like, I'll make a mental note to include a hint of it in the collection."
She is, as expected, her own best spokesmodel, and is often pictured in some of her designs whether she's out and about with husband Mark Wright in his adopted home city of Los Angeles or in the UK, where she is based.
Michelle's 'glow up' has been one of the most notable celebrity transformations in recent years and she believes that with age and maturity has come a sense of self-confdidence.
"During earlier times in my career, I was trying to get to know my own style and I wouldn't necessarily wear something that I was comfortable in because I thought it felt cool. Now, I think my style has evolved a lot more," she says, recalling that her favourite red carpet look was a buttercup yellow Suzanne Neville dress she wore to the TV BAFTAs in May.
When I ask did she have a favourite moment in her career when she realised she'd 'made it', she says still doesn't feel that certainty yet, but was overcome with pride during season one of filming BBC military drama Our Girl in 2016.
"For me, that’s the main thing, I’m doing something that I love," she explains.
"Maybe when I was working in South Africa and Malaysia for Our Girl and I realised, 'This is my job. I'm in this country to work'. I felt there was a lot of pressure with that role and the positive response was overwhelming."
A quick search through the archives shows that Keegan was once a regular on our shores, pictured enjoying all of Dublin's Celtic Tiger trappings from 2008 onwards, but her most cherished memories here are private ones shared with family and friends.
"I love Ireland. I haven't been in a couple of years and I'm gutted because I love it there. I always have a great time in Dublin, I've been to Temple Bar and the Guinness Storehouse," she says.
"My friends and I went over for a hen and we all had a brilliant time."