Section: Inside Interview
Author: Judy Gilroy | More from this author >>>
Just one look at Amanda Byram and it’s easy to see why she’s been chosen as the face of this year’s ‘Dublin Festival of Fashion’.
Before our interview I peer through a glass door, watching the statuesque beauty strike a pose and sashay in front of the camera, laughing and smiling as if something is really funny. She’s wearing a gold sequined dress and revealing her envious pins in a pair of sky high heels. And although you couldn’t possibly find a more glamorous ensemble, she wears it with such a relaxed confidence that you could almost mistake her to be popping down to the shop for a pint of milk.
When I meet her, I’m not surprised to discover that she’s as nice as she seems on the telly. She’s instantly likeable (and not just because she compliments my outfit!), and I find myself almost disarmed by how incredibly humble she is.
Warm, beautiful and ever so stylish, Amanda is the perfect ambassador for the Dublin Festival of Fashion. And what’s more, she comes equipped with a passion for Dublin city that’s so genuine; it’s infectious.
You’re one of Ireland’s most successful TV Presenters, having established yourself as a household name not just here in Ireland but also in the UK and America. How did you get started in your career?
I was working as a model when I got an audition for Ireland AM. I got the job and it was a simple as that. Over the space of a weekend I had quit modelling and I was in rehearsals for Ireland’s first ever morning show - it all happened really, really quickly.
Your latest venture ‘The Angel’ has just debuted on Sky – what has the reaction been like to it?
Amazing - apparently people really loved it! I was actually on a flight when it aired so I missed it but it takes me a few weeks to watch my own shows anyway. I’m not a big fan of watching myself on TV but I have it recorded so I will watch it eventually!
How did you get involved in the ‘Dublin Festival of Fashion’?
When I was asked to be the face of the ‘Dublin Festival of Fashion’ I jumped on it immediately. I used to model in Dublin many years ago so having been in the fashion industry and with so many brilliant memories of Dublin, I loved the idea.
The footfall in Dublin city centre has dropped drastically and while it’s on the up again, people tend to shop in the suburbs these days – they don’t shop in the city centre anymore.
I’m really proud that I’m hopefully going to be part of the catalyst that helps to turn that around. I think it’s so important for us to embrace Dublin city as kind of a “hub” because we’ve really neglected that in the past and that’s what the Dublin Festival of Fashion is all about.
Living in London, will you make it back to Dublin for the event itself from September 6th – 9th?
I am back for the event; I’m compering one of the shows and you never know, I might even model in one of them – back to the old days again!
Is there anything in particular on the programme of events that you are looking forward to?
There’s a fashion show taking place on the steps of the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre and I’m really looking forward to that. Not to mention the creative quarter over on Clarendon Street and St Georges Street. There’s a big creative element over there with such beautiful architecture, gorgeous shops and designers that people just seem to forget about.
This morning I looked out the window and I saw Georges Street Arcade. It’ so amazing but you just forget about it. It’s when you don’t live here, that you appreciate these things. You could live in Rome and not see the Spanish steps – you just pass them every day but they’re just a set of steps. When I lived here, I forgot and I neglected everything as well but now it’s easy for me to come back and actually notice things again - it’s really lovely.
Do you miss living in Dublin?
I do but I get the best of both worlds. I love Dublin city centre and I miss it.
I miss Grafton street in the run up to Christmas and I miss the elements of being in Dublin like the Phoenix Park, where I’m from – just out by Castleknock – things like walks in the park just out by the popes cross.
Now let’s talk about your own style because you seem to be one of the very few people
Awwwh, bless! (I think it’s fair to say Amanda is chuffed at this juncture!)
I’ve had a few faux pas in my time! In my later life, actually not as much but in my earlier life, definitely! Stone wash denim minis and leg warmers spring to mind.
I don’t really go out to many things but when I do, I’m lucky because I have a little bit of time to focus on what I wear. And I really do love fashion...
That’s really obvious – you always tweet what you wear! Fashion is obviously a massive part of your life?
Fashion is a big part of my life; I love to dress up like any woman does. It’s a really girly thing to get dressed up and go out and enjoy yourself. I’m lucky because I get to dress up for my job but I also love to be very comfortable too.
How would you describe your style?
Because I dress up so much for work, my personal style is very comfortable and laid back. In my spare time I like to be a little bit boho, a little bit eclectic. I truly believe that style is a sense of attitude and that if you’ve got the right attitude you feel confident in yourself then you can wear anything.
Who would be your style crush?
Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba, Gisele – the list goes on!
Monica Bellucci is another one – I love the way she really embraces her curves and her femininity.
High street or designer?
I really like to mix it up actually – I don’t really go for designer that much because I think that if you look hard enough you can dress yourself in a designer style for very cheap.
I love high street shops like Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Zara, and H&M. They’re all fantastic places where you can get anything you want from this season. If you spend a thousand pounds on a dress, it’s going to be last season in a few months. As long as you accessorize well you’re laughing!
Just before Amanda is whisked away for her next interview, I ask her if she thinks she would still be here today had she missed that fateful TV3 audition all those years ago. She replies with absolute certainty; “I think so. I’m a person who lives to chase my dreams”.
And it’s in that very moment, I can see not only why she’s the perfect ambassador for the Dublin Festival of Fashion but also, the secret to her success.
The Dublin Festival of Fashion takes place on September 6th – 9th and will include on-street fashion shows, in store events, and the chance to make a start on your Autumn Winter wardrobe. For more information visit www.dff.ie
Author: Judy Gilroy | More from this author >>>