Having a child doesn’t mean the end of a career in the style industry

Look closer ... Isabelle Healy, face of Belfast Fashionweek, has a cleverly disguised baby bump, making her one of modelling’s growing number of yummy mummies

Isabelle Healey
Isabelle Healey
Kiera Gormley and her son Fionn
Kiera Gormley and her son Fionn
Khara Pringle with her daughter Ayria
Khara Pringle with her daughter Ayria

They are the ultimate yummy mummies, the beautiful women who enjoy high pressure careers in the glamorous world of fashion while also devoting themselves to their babies.

In an industry which insists on perfection, where deadlines are tight and hours unsociable, it takes real strength and talent to remain at the top while juggling the equally demanding job of motherhood.

But as three professionals who all recently dazzled during a photo shoot for Spring/Summer Belfast Fashionweek reveal, it is possible to have it all.

Northern Ireland's very own supermodel Kiera Gormley has continued to combine her high profile career as an international catwalk star with being mum to six-month-old Fionn.

While she been happy to fly all over the world for top assignments during her a fast-paced career, Kiera now hopes to slow down and concentrate on modelling jobs closer to her home in London.

Well-known Belfast fashion photographer Khara Pringle captured the images for Fashionweek which will influence how we dress in the new season ahead.

A self-confessed workaholic, Khara was back in her studio for a L'Oreal fashion shoot just two weeks after giving birth to her eight-month-old daughter Ayria last year.

Khara regularly works through the night so that she can spend quality time with her beautiful daughter.

And model-mum-to-be Isabelle Healy from Dublin agency First Option was positively blooming during the Fashionweek shoot as she proudly showed off her baby bump for the very first time.

While she plans to enjoy some quality time off with her first child, who is due in April, Isabelle hopes to return to the job she loves.

Isabelle: model and mum-to-be

‘I hope my figure will|pop back into shape’

Dublin-based model Isabelle Healy (28), the face of Fashionweek, has enjoyed a jet set lifestyle, modelling for Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, Savida lingerie at Dunnes, Victoria Beckham and Dolce & Gabbana. She and husband Bobby (44), a software writer, are expecting their first child at the end of April. She says:

In the modelling world, working while six months pregnant is rather unusual, but I have always been extremely passionate about my career. When it comes to shoots, my priorities have shifted slightly, the baby’s health is the most important factor.

Some poses are a little uncomfortable to capture and the long days can be tiring at times so I just need to be more cautious and keep well hydrated throughout the day.

I am Swiss and my family are all in Switzerland so when I have my baby, I won’t have that family support around me and I will miss my mum not being close by.

I really love my job; it’s the best job ever and I would like to think that I will be able to continue to work when I become a mum.

I have done a lot of overseas work and I can’t see how that will continue after the baby is born. Modelling is not a 9-5 job so you have to be flexible. You can’t really plan things, such as booking holidays, as if a really big job comes up you can’t let the opportunity go. This could be difficult when I have the baby.

There are so many other models that do a great job combining work with motherhood and I hope to learn a lot from them.

I think not having the family network around me will make it more difficult. I plan to take it easy for a few months after the baby is born, but would like to think I will be able to go back to modelling.

Maybe I will focus on doing more shoots locally and hopefully my figure will pop back for me. In my job, you always have to present yourself well as you don’t know who you could bump into, but I don’t mind.

It was great coming up to Belfast to do the Fashionweek shoot. The stylist, Sean, was |delightful in giving me a beautiful piece to wear that was perfectly loose and comfortable. The team in general were very accommodating on the day and so considerate of my current situation.

My husband and I are thrilled to be expecting our first child and he has always been fully supportive of me and my career.”

Kiera: model and mum

‘Juggling a career and motherhood is tough, but I wouldn’t change a thing’

Kiera Gormley (30), from Belfast, is an international catwalk model who has featured in Vogue and worked for top fashion houses such as Gaultier, Dior, Lanvin, Vivienne Westwood, Hermes, Paul Smith, Burberry, Giorgio Armani and many more. She became the face of MAC Cosmetics in the ‘Rose Romance’ campaign. Kiera lives in London with partner Grant Slabber (32), from South Africa, who owns a construction company. They have a six-month-old son, Fionn. She says:

I love being a mum as well as being a model. It is a juggling act trying to balance the two, but I try my best and love both roles. My beautiful six-month-old baby boy Fionn always keeps me on my toes. Both jobs are very demanding and full on, but I love being busy and wouldn’t change it for the world.

I always try to make some time for myself, but it is fantastic being able to be a career woman and a mum. I am currently trying to get Fionn into a creche, but it’s hard to leave him so I am doing it slowly, just a few afternoons a week.

I had a difficult pregnancy and couldn’t work for medical reasons. I didn’t put on a massive amount of weight when I was pregnant, but I had a lot of water retention and my ankles swelled up. I couldn’t get my jeans on and had to live in flip flops.

I’ve found it quite difficult getting my figure back to normal after the birth. I think these celebrities who seem to snap back to their pre-pregnancy body shape must have 25 personal trainers and night nannies to help them. I have even found it difficult to find the time and energy to exercise.

Your priorities change when you become a mum and Fionn is now my number one. For a long time my life was just about me, but now it’s about Fionn and everything else comes second.

I don’t think work will be as high speed now as it was when I had no commitments. I will pull back and hopefully there won’t be the same need to do castings as a lot of my clients know me now. I haven’t left Fionn so I will have to work on a trial and error basis about any trips that do come up and just see how things are at the time.

I was delighted when I was asked to shoot the Spring/Summer Belfast Fashionweek campaign, it was great to be involved with it.

The floral theme was beautiful and perfect for Spring/Summer and the floral backdrop was a dream to work against. It was also lovely working with fellow working mums, photographer Khara Pringle and Cathy Martin, director of Fashionweek, at the shoot — showing that women can do it all!”

Khara: mum and photographer

‘I’m better at my job since having a child’

Khara Pringle (40), an award-winning photographer who has a studio in Belfast’s Royal Avenue, and her partner Bradley Quinn (36), a wedding photographer, live in Newtownards with their daughter Ayria, who is eight months. Khara says:

I have a childminder on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and on Thursdays, Bradley’s parents look after Ayria. I try to keep the weekends and Mondays free to spend with my daughter.

The only issue I have had with work is trying to do my computer work and touching up my photographs, which before Ayria was born, I would have done in the evenings. I now work round her sleep which was tricky at the start when she was waking every two hours.

I remember one night when she didn’t get to sleep until 1am and I was touching up pictures from then until 4am. Ayria then woke again at 6am.

I have survived since she was born on about four hours sleep a night. I have to be much more organised and put aside my clothes for work the night before as well as organise Ayria in the mornings before I leave. My make-up usually isn’t applied until I get to my studio in Belfast.

The other morning I had to leave for an early shoot before Ayria was awake and found myself having a fry for breakfast in Deane’s which was a real luxury.

Strangely, I have felt very insecure in my work since I’ve had a baby. I think some of my clients thought I was having six months off to spend with the baby and I was actually back at work two weeks after giving birth to do a L’Oreal shoot.

It’s a very male dominated business and I don’t know if there is a perception that because you have had a child you are not totally on it. I’ve found myself having to fight harder in work. I think I am actually a better photographer now than I was before I gave birth. It’s weird, but it’s like I am more in tune and there is a better focus to what I do.

I opened a new studio in the city centre six weeks ago which has been great. I went to the meeting of city centre business people who had been hit by the protests and I was struck by how many of them have been hurt by the situation and are really fighting for their business.

I have found myself, when I have a spare hour or two, doing photo shoots for some of them for free just to help raise their profiles because they are suffering and struggling.

I am a workaholic, but I won’t lift the phone if I am with Ayria because she doesn’t like it.

I have found that the pleasure of children is amazing, but that there are equal pleasures such as shooting an amazing photograph.

While I love having a child, I see now that there are lots of other things which are uplifting as well as having children.

I’m so happy to have a job I love as I know there are lots of women in jobs they don’t like. I work hard and enjoy it, but when I am with Ayria, the time is very special.

I took her to the zoo when she was four weeks old and I take her to the museum every week and to W5 every two weeks, even though I know she is too young to understand.

We also go to the beach and Crawfordsburn Park. I won’t sit in the house with her, I will always be out doing something.

I love fashion and photography. I still wear the crazy clothes I did, I haven’t changed the way I dress or look since I had a baby. I still live in my Wrangler jeans.”

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