Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Woman to woman - Fiona Hurley at large

2001 was the year the realisation hit home that there is no fountain of youth, nobody is getting any younger, and great things do not come to those who wait.

2001 was the year the realisation hit home that there is no fountain of youth, nobody is getting any younger, and great things do not come to those who wait.

Therefore, I forced myself from a professional rut and joined two new agencies, Style Academy and Morgan the Agency in Dublin.

Few serious pressures, diversity, an excellent social life and an eclectic melting pot of individuals are the pulling powers towards this lifestyle.

Undoubtedly, the nature of the beast means there are clashing egos the size of continents and practised smiles on certain sickly sweet models who would sell their soul and your reputation to win favour.

It is imperative to remain grounded and appreciate those genuine individuals who are hard to find.

One prime example is top Irish designer Michelle O'Doherty, in Chichester Street, Belfast. As house model promoting her designs on TV3 and RTE1, I witnessed the relentless pursuit of perfection that lies behind her easy-going nature. It was a professional and personal pleasure.

Whether dressed in a suit or armour for an orange Squeez advertisement, or as a face of Gordons Gin and C&C brown lemonade during my year as the reigning Miss Northern Ireland.

Whether painted as a geisha girl (nothing new there), as the curly toed girl in First Trust posters (I took cramp!) or as the blushing Ulster Bride (it's a miracle!), the variety kept me interested.

Recently I worked alongside the energetic and effervescent Pamela Ballantine and top fashion stylist Claire Sheills for a UTV Life fashion feature that was filmed at Ten Square.

Personally, as the Mk One and Oasis queen with no designer label aspirations, Claire's lack of snobbishness was refreshing. She can re-invent an image at 50 paces on whatever budget is available. Dressing is her forte.

It appears recently that undressing is mine! Whether as a Gossard underwear model for TV3 and as a sparkling underwear Christmas fairy for Arnotts store in Dublin, my latest assignments have raised eyebrows. Many women ask if I find this kind of work embarrassing. Embarrassing? Try totally depressing! Nowadays, however, with more confidence I am armed with the knowledge that perfection is a myth (even Naomi Campbell has cellulite) and in the scheme of things nobody really gives a damn! However, after being given a fitness assessment and a personal training session with Michael Bell at Motiv8 in Holywood, I will make the most of his professional wisdom. Unfortunately, bar, social and jaw activity far outweighed any gym action over the festive season! Speaking of bar activity, the Belfast scene is finally attempting to play catch-up with Dublin and the rest of Europe.

Amongst the heaving mass of high-spirited clubbers, you regularly see media babes, such as UTV's Alison Fleming and GMTV's Emma-Louise Johnston, as well as former Miss Northern Irelands Louisa- Jane Vance and Julie Martin.

My favourite haunt is Christies in Linenhall Street, and this was the venue for my New Year's Eve celebrations. The lively atmosphere, charming and flamboyant staff and excellent entertainment encourages the clients' frequent return.

The popular and glamorous party king and manager Peter Gilroy has also introduced a 'cheesy' disco and he encourages sheer debauchery and unadulterated enjoyment.

The sociable media types frequent this brassiere, along with eligible bachelors like Stephen Cartwright and John Joe Eastwood, prominent socialites like Hal Catherwood, stylish girls-about-town like Cathy Martin, Kelly Mulgrew and up-and- coming actress Antoinette Morelli.

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