Society: Models bring Milan to standstill and Brendan goes Off the Rails
Milan Fashion Week was an incredible experience and in between the AW16 menswear couture shows, there was culture to enjoy, delicious cuisine and lots of side shows as the influx of top male models brought traffic to a standstill.
'Walking in the rain' was the runway theme at the Corneliani show which is where I met the always dapper, Paul O'Connor, group buying director of Brown Thomas and I grabbed a lift to the Ralph Lauren show.
They served champagne and nibbles but it was hard to ignore the 35 models wearing everything from sportswear to velvet evening wear. And there, standing in the middle, in white jeans, brown ankle boots and a cosy fur jacket was Lucky Blue Smith from Utah.
Scouted at the age of 10, the 17-year-old blonde is now one of the most in demand male models in the world and believe me, those eyes are very blue. Flying home I found myself seated beside up-and-coming New York model, Valentine, who walked the Calvin Klein show. Tucking into his Irish breakfast with gusto, Valentine told me how Vera Wang told him to get into modelling.
Meanwhile the gym bunnies were certainly a good advert for their healthy eating regime when I met them at Balfes on Wednesday. The restaurant, located beside the Westbury Hotel, has introduced healthy menu options designed in partnership with BodyByrne Fitness pair, Paul Byrne and his wife Siobhan.
I knew Siobhan very well when I had a weekly fashion slot on RTE's Afternoon Show and she was my regular, go-to model. She is a personal trainer to the stars and the couple have a beautiful daughter, Regan.
Their many friends turned out for a delicious breakfast - including singer Brian Kennedy, Síle Seoige and Glen Power, drummer with The Script.
David Murray, Balfes' restaurant manager, plied us with oat pancakes served three ways. Paul told the group "abs really are made in the kitchen. You can't out-train a bad diet".
I called by the chq at the IFSC for the new partnership launch between Ulster Bank and Young Social Innovators. Those attending included Baroness Glenys Thornton, CEO, The Young Foundation; Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, co-founder, Young Social Innovators; Pat Edmondson, Young Social Innovators; Paul Stanley, Interim CEO, Ulster Bank; Norma Smurfit, TD Mary Mitchell O'Connor and presenter Diana Bunici.
Revamp of Beckett's gets the party going
By Bairbre Power
Beckett's in Marbella threw a lively relaunch party last weekend for their newly renovated restaurant.
Always hugely popular in the Spanish harbour town, Beckett's now lists as one of the top 10 places to dine on the Costa del Sol. Chef/owner Marc Quinlan purchased the two premises next door in recent months and opened a new whiskey bar/music venue.
He also has a second restaurant in Elviria called The Playwright. Guests on the night included Kerri Nicole Blanc and her boyfriend Keith Malone, Brian and Karen McEvoy, Virginia Macari and her partner Kas who reside in Marbella plus John and Jacqueline Goldrick, the founders of Wildrover Tours.com who are spending a few months in Spain.
Toni Wall was there looking fab in a Simone Rocha dress and Alan McQuillan who runs the front of house at the Gaiety made it a family occasion with brothers Gerry and Michael. Ivano Cafolla Senior was at the party, spotted in deep conversation with Jacko Dennis of HB Dennis motors.
Damien Smyth, owner of the Jameson Bar in Kensington, London also dropped in.
Brendan tweets Gok over new 'Off the Rails'
By Bairbre Power
The Brazilian coffee-drinking fashion guru Brendan Courtney was in fine fettle when we lunched together at TV3 this week for The Seven O'Clock Show.
Hearty appetites saw us tucking into pizza as we selected the 18 finalists from hundreds of boutique entries and thousands of votes of support.
There's nothing that I love more than heading off to check out independent boutiques, something that the team at sister publication, Weekend, is very keen to do.
So there we were judging and swapping tales and Brendan told me about his OMG moment.
He tweeted Gok Wan when he heard about his new British TV style show with Fearne Cotton on ITV ... And it's only called Off The Rails.
Brendan said: "I texted Gok that '#offtherails was the name of our fashion show @rte for 18 years, how funny'!"
Brendan told me: "I would like to think that RTÉ would be protective of that brand because when we did it, they called it the 'fourth pillar'. There was sports, Fair City, us and The Late Late. Off the Rails was the lifestyle pillar." Does he miss the show? "No, not at all, we have our own platform in Frock Advisor, we don't wait for three weeks to put something out."
And as for The Seven O'Clock Show finalists: well here's the inside track on the three finalists in six categories.
Bow & Pearl, Ranelagh, Dublin;
Willow, Ennis, Co Clare;
Gallery 9, Naas, Kildare
Love Cherish, Charleville, Co Cork;
Verso & The Dress Bar, Cork;
Ruby Rouge, Gorey, Co Wexford
Fabucci, Naas, Co Kildare;
My Shining Armour, (online);
Om Diva, Drury St, Dublin
The White Room, Mullingar, Co Westmeath;
McElhinney's, Lifford, Co Donegal;
FG Bridal Couture, Midleton, Co Cork
Platform, Rathgar Ave, Dublin;
Miss Daisy Blue, Patrick St, Cork
Siopaella (Temple Lane South, Dublin;
Glitz 'n' Pieces (online);
Wear We Wander (online).
From 'Ripper Street' to the Rising for Char
By Kirsty Blake Knox
Ripper Street actress Charlene McKenna is teaming up with Ferdinand Kingsley - son of Sir Ben don't you know - to work on new BBC Radio drama, News from Home.
"It's part of their 1916 commemoration programme," she told me at the launch of Vodafone TV. "It's pretty exciting."
The Monaghan native has been flitting between New York and London for the past year but is now house-hunting in East London.
"That's the aim for 2016, I've been living out of four different suitcases and four different towns so finding my own home is what I want right now."
Before she starts her hunt in earnest, Charlene will be heading to LA for pilot season.
"'Lunacy land' that's what I call it.
"It's a treadmill of non-stop auditioning. I've only done it once before and I'm still recovering from it. But you know what they say - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
Happy pair are now ready to hit the road in style
By Bairbre Power
It was handstands and juggling and all sorts of fun when the energetic Happy Pear duo were signed up as the latest brand ambassadors for Renault during the week.
The enterprising chef brothers, David and Stephen Flynn, threw a little celebration at The Happy Pear Restaurant and market shop in Greystones, Co Wicklow, to mark being signed up as double ambassadors for the new stylish Kadjar SUV.
It's become a must-go to spot for the health conscious and the growing number of the weekend Bray-to -Greystones walkers.
Lucky they had their new wheels at the ready as they had to hit the road to Cork to kick off their LIVE Happening Tour in Cork Opera House on Thursday where they did demos, tastings and regaled stories of their healthy journey.
Ten years in business, their Happy Pear cookbook was one of the bestselling cookbooks of last year and the duo are also part of Jamie Oliver's Food Tube family, the largest foodie community in Europe.
The twins said They were delighted to join the growing Renault Group ambassador family which also includes style guru Lorraine Keane who back on the road with her Style Keane workshops and her next session takes place at the City North Hotel on January 30 and her new show on UTV hits our screens in March.
Others in the Renault family are Ian Dempsey, Fiona Coghlan and David McWilliams.
Philly plans an Abbey end after 24 hour plays
A lot can happen in 24 hours.
Something theatre producer Philly McMahon knows all too well.
For the past five years Philly has been at the helm of frenetic fundraiser The 24 Hour Plays - an event which sees 24 actors, six playwrights and six directors write, rehearse and stage six plays within 24 short hours.
But alas - 2016 will be Philly's last time producing the adrenalin-filled charity gig.
"It's been great fun but I'm finishing up," he said. "It's good to go out on a high."
The 2016 show takes place on January 31 at the Abbey Theatre and then, Philly will hit the road with HRH Panti Bliss - bringing her stage show to Australia, Austin and Sarajevo.
"So there's a lot on the cards - it's good to kick it all off with the 24 Hour Plays," he said.
This year Republic of Telly star Joanne McNally will be treading the boards alongside Moone Boy star Norma Sheehan, comedian Eleanor Tiernan and EastEnders star Marc Elliott.
Author Tara Flynn will be frantically penning a script. "It's nerve wracking," she said. "And terrifying. I'll probably vomit with nerves or have a breakdown but the show must go on."