Monday 22 January 2018

For the love of fashion: Ian looks local not global for style tips

Fashion guru Ian Galvin, who ignores top trends, is pleasantly surprised at the wealth of talent at home, writes Joanna Kiernan

Ian developed a love of leather jackets later in life, like this one by All Saints
Ian developed a love of leather jackets later in life, like this one by All Saints
Joanna Kiernan

Joanna Kiernan

First and foremost, Ian Galvin, chairman of fashion group Aurora Ireland, is a businessman, but what makes this businessman so successful is that he made style his business long before it became a career.

"I don't go by catwalk trends," he says. "Style is something you're born with and it evolves with your personality, as your personality changes and as your personality develops.

"The clothes I wore in my rock'n'roll days, when I was hanging out with Van Morrison or the early U2 days, they were really kind of statement clothes, like Give Me Love and vintage Moschino jackets and waistcoats."

Ian admits that he has mellowed over the years, albeit slightly. "It's toned down now, but I have moved it on to kind of suit my age and my personality, without losing the creative excitement."

Ever a fan of mixing it up, Ian loves to pair staple items with something a little more out there.

"Ann Finn in Brown Thomas' menswear is brilliant and I would go in to Ann twice a year and pick up a few things," he explains. "But that would only set the scene for me -- then I like to go off and do my own thing."

Ian recently met fellow Waterford native Yvonne Crotty, owner of Bonzie Designs, at Faye Dinsmore's Irish Fashion Awards, and was excited to hear of such a wonderful fashion find on his doorstep.

"Yvonne does the most amazing embellishment and stuff," he tells me. "I went in to see her showrooms and I was looking at kind of Vivienne Westwood corsetry and John Galliano embroidery, and saying, 'My God. This is only down in Waterford'."

After developing the belief that you couldn't find much outside of the pale, Ian has been pleasantly surprised by the wealth of talent he has encountered since buying a house in his home town of Tramore.

One such example is Waterford optician Kjell Nolke, of Nolke Opticians, who was able to turn around a pair of Tom Ford glasses with customised yellow lenses for Ian in just one day.

Another key person in this style king's life is his dry cleaner. "The most important friend you can have, for anyone into fashion, is a good dry cleaner, because if you don't have a good dry cleaner, all the beautiful clothes you have are f***ed," he says, giggling. "I have found Tramore Dry Cleaners, owned by Josie Dunne, and it's great."

Ian is not a fan of conservative suits and always endeavours to make his outfits a touch alternative.

"It's all about style," the ageless Ian tells me one sunny morning in his suite at The Morgan hotel. "It's more about having your own personal, quirky style rather than categorising it by age. It's about having that style personality that transcends age."

Ian is a huge John Rocha fan and follows Rocha's menswear designer Gareth Moloney very carefully. "The uniqueness of John's menswear is Gareth," he believes. "I used to see John with all of these cropped trousers on the runway. I just thought, 'Wow. That is just so stylish and so cool'. It took me until I got to my 40s to actually buy that look and wear it."

The fact that Ian began wearing these cropped trousers then shows how fearless he is when it comes to style. But he is not averse to changing his mind about certain trends.

"In the Eighties and Nineties, I didn't wear leather jackets, because I thought they looked rough," he admits. "However, I have made up for that since.

"I probably own about 25 leather jackets. A really nice leather jacket with dressy jeans and a crisp shirt just looks really sharp."

I ask Ian for some parting advice -- how to address that common style question: to buy or not to buy?

He answers in his uniquely endearing, yet straight-talking manner. "You have to think, what does this do for me? Rather than, isn't this beautiful?"


Name: Ian Galvin

Occupation: Chairman Aurora Ireland

Marital Status: Single

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