As Ireland’s Ambassador for the UN-supported Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, I had a busy schedule on November 18th - which is the annual date for International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. To kick start proceedings, I was hosting a breakfast in Dublin supported by Ulster Bank’s #BusinessWomenCan initiative, which saw speakers including TD Kate O’Connell and mentors like Fiona Gratzer from Unislim as well as super lawyer Majella Creenan take to the stage to share stories and insights into the world of business, politics and academia.
For this event, and indeed for the six events I had to attend throughout the whole day, I partnered with MaxMara, who agreed to dress me for the occasion. Or rather, occasions! This blog and vlog tell my Max Mara story.
To breakfast, I wore a beautiful Italian woven wool jumpsuit in grey with a black fleck embroidery and paired it with a thin black poloneck underneath. Polonecks are huge this season and adding one under this jumpsuit gave winter warmth as well as adding a dimension of demure and discretion - keeping my speech and the work done by women in Ireland to the fore. The fit was perfect, with a nipped in waist and a panel across the front which could be worn open or closed - I chose half open to take emphasis away from my bust and draw the eyeline down towards the waist line. The leg was wide, and super chic, allowing me to wear flats underneath for the dawn walk from my hotel, but equally complementing my Louboutins which were slipped on as I entered the building.
After breakfast, I drove to Belfast where I attended the Prince’s Trust ‘Lunch With an Old Bag’ charity luncheon event at the Harbour Master’s Office (a beautiful historic building in the heart of the city’s docklands). This charity, which is the foundation of HRH Prince Charles, does wonderful things for less privileged kids to get them integrated into society and the world of work. The lunch was fun and, with author, comedienne and sometime activist Helen Lederer (Absolutely Fabulous) speaking after lunch, it was a really inspiring couple of hours. The look I wore for this event was my favourite of the day, another jumpsuit, but this one was light pink brushed wool on the (flared) leg with a green sequin top and monochrome stripe pockets - not a look for a shrinking violet! It drew much admiration and, I think, a few buyers from the store, although it was very much limited edition.
Mid afternoon, I moved on to the Northern Irish Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event, where I spoke about the uncertainty of a new Trump Presidency in the US, and the effects of Brexit on north-south business relationships. Here I wore a coffee caramel coloured dress with leather and tweed panels as well as some more monochrome inserts. Again, a dream to wear with the shape and fabric totally flattering on my non-model-like figure. (For the record I am a UK 10 and 5’5” tall). I had topped this off with a truly beautiful and iconic MaxMara coat for bracing the November weather outside. If you’ve never tried a Max Mara coat, please make it your mission to visit a store and put one on - for the experience if nothing else. It is the dreamiest of mantels - with wool so soft you could sink into a slumber, should you decide to rest your head on it. It’s no surprise that iconic women the world over choose Max Mara when they are looking for a stylish staple to last season after season - and in some cases, generation after generation!
Just after this, I hosted a fashion show wearing what I would call the party version of the previous dress. The staples were the same - more of that beautiful coffee caramel coloured wool, but with monochrome patchwork pockets, similar to the pockets on my lunchtime jumpsuit, and, like the lunchtime jumpsuit, the top half of the dress was sequin, a coppery gold coloured sequin, which was perfect for the time of year and the pre-Christmas-season that was the occasion.
I also popped in quickly to a press briefing on SS17 wearing the most beautiful silk blouse and cream silk pants - I was so very lucky to have pre-season access, and I am glad I did because the ‘all white everything’ look really stood out inthe wintery crowd.
Lastly, I attended some industry cocktails wearing a casual but VERY cool striped sequin jumper with black silk pants. The jumper screamed cool in the most unassuming way possible - and after wearing it to this, the last of so many events that day followed by a late supper in the former butchery which is the much-accoladed Bull & Ram restaurant in Ballynahinch, the final stripes had me hooked, I purchased the top the very next day.
In short, I had the most wonderful day playing my own kind of grown-up dress-up, wearing clothes made from the finest of fabrics and fibres. The staff at the Belfast Lisburn Road store couldn’t have been more helpful and accommodating, especially with sizes as they listened to my personal whims and woes about shape (or misshape!) from outside the changing room curtains.
I always say it is better to save for investment pieces rather than fast fashion which isn’t always about quality nor about attention to detail in the design. With the house of Max Mara you can feel the craftmanship ooze out of each piece of Max Mara clothing like design is in the very vein of the garment. Que bello!