Irene O’Brien – Vintage Lady

By michael

Irene O’Brien is a great friend of ours and also an amazing stylist with a passion for vintage. She has also become the new organiser of the bi-annual Dublin Vintage Fair which takes place on Sunday at Dun Laoghaire’s Royal Marine Hotel.

Where did your love of vintage come from?
I have always been pretty fascinated by anything from another time, anything that belonged to someone that lived through the decades that I didn’t. I like to imagine what the garments witnessed, the parties they went to, the stories they could tell. I’m also certain I’ve been spun many yarns to seal the sale but facts can be overrated. And then there’s the look of the Vintage… I’m particularly partial to a ‘60s aesthetic when it comes to fashion. They say that we often become fascinated with the eras in which our parents came of age. Not sure if that rings true for all but it’s definitely the case for me. And also true of the eras in which my grandparents came of age. Ok, I’m kind of fascinated with them all. I like all the eras!

From a dressing point of view, Vintage can help you to express individuality or make a look unique. Also there are undeniable environmental benefits also. A Vintage buy is a win win really!

What can first time visitors expect at the vintage fair?
First time visitors can expect one great big celebration of Vintage under one roof. We have over 50 marvelous traders, all passionate about their goods, be that fashion, décor or accessories. There’s just a brilliant mix of offerings from a huge range of eras. I love chatting to the traders; they’re all super knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. It’s a shopping experience that you don’t get on the high-street. You can also expect incredible Vintage style – I’m constantly blown away by the effort that people go to. I love witnessing how people put their looks together. You often see people arrive in one outfit and leave in another! The Vintage Fair is something of a sartorial playground for our visitors.

What is your most prized vintage possession?
I honestly have an unhealthy attachment to all of my Vintage pieces; I won’t ever part with my dresses. Some have made it to charity bags but been reclaimed just as the shop door bell goes. But in the name of a happy future I’ll have to say that my favourite Vintage possession is a recently acquired art deco ring that’s due to stay on my hand ‘til death do us part…

What is the best advice you could offer someone buying vintage?
For Fashion: Try it on. Try it on. Try it on. Vintage clothes can look completely different on the body to how they present on the hanger. You’d be raging if you’d overlooked something due to a swift judgment made during your rail sweep, only to see your style nemesis rocking it the following Saturday night. If you like the slightest part of the garment you should definitely take it for a spin in the changing room.

You’ve dedicated a blog to your pursuits – how did that come about? 
Boredom, frustration, aspiration and delusion. Isn’t that how all blogs come about? Oh and I liked sharing those almost certainly fake Vintage-clothing back stories too.

You were selected as stylist of the year recently. How important are accolades in the business?

I was and it’s really lovely of industry professionals to say they think I do my job well but to be fair I just spend most of my time feeling like a fraud (although I think Imposter Syndrome is fairly endemic in the female population, particularly the freelance division). There are absolutely incredible Irish stylists whose work I am in awe of and constantly inspired by – really it’s an industry where the work speaks for itself. But of course it’s very nice to be given a nod (and a yummy afternoon tea). My mother was only delighted!

Any tips for dressing this winter besides wrapping up?
Layering! I absolutely hate when magazines say that; they suggest nine different pieces to pop on, leaving out the notice that you’ll look like you fell into your wardrobe and came out wearing what stuck to you whilst experiencing limited mobility. But I think I know the key – it’s about what’s closest to your skin. There’s nothing quite like a nice thermal vest to keep the draft at bay. I was born a Nana so I appreciate a good undergarment. In fact undergarments can absolutely make or break a Vintage outfit. Be sure to wear your best drawers when you come on Sunday.

The Vintage Fair takes place this Sunday in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoighre from 11.30am – 6.30pm. Entry €7.