We catch up with Joanne Costello, one of Ireland's brightest new fashion talents.
Georgina Heffernan: Please tell RTÉ.ie Fashion readers a little bit about your story, and how you got into fashion styling?
Joanne Costello: I think it probably started when I was four years old and I managed to get my poor mother in trouble with my teacher, by insisting I change my outfit at lunchtime before I went back to school, everyday. I was always creative but real life took me a down a different path and I found myself in a successful corporate career that I enjoyed but that ultimately didn’t fulfill me.
My eureka moment came when I went to a shoot in London for The Times Style magazine with a friend who was being photographed for one of their features. I was her “style bodyguard” for the day and - long story short - their stylist ended up taking my advice as to what would suit her best. Once I was exposed to that environment I knew it was what I wanted to do. After that I made the big decision to change career, and went on to study in Central St Martins, London.
I know by personal experience that the fashion industry is a tough business to break into, what was your big break?
I don’t know if there was one big break as such, for me it was a number of opportunities that came my way and have worked out well for me. I was fortunate to study under designer Aimee McWilliams, who was co-creative director of Balmain. As well as gaining a unique insight into the world of high fashion, I learned to always try to push the creative boundaries and met some great people in the process.
Alexander Fitzgerald, editor of Irish Tatler Man gave me the chance to style a shoot on their second issue and since then I’ve styled, reported and written articles for the magazine. Last summer I styled Bressie for the front cover and I got a lot of interest after that. I’m not sure if that was more to do the main man himself though!! But men’s fashion has led me on to other projects such as styling an exciting new Irish band called Taken, they’ll be making their mark in 2013.
What labels and high street stores are inspiring you this season?
I think our own Irish up and coming designers are the most inspiring to me. Designers such as Umit Kutluk and Claire O’Connor amaze me with their unique yet timeless creations, their use of luxurious fabrics and impeccable tailoring really set them apart.
On the high street Zara, Massimo Dutti, H&M, TopShop, and Karen Millen are my favourites. What I love above them is the varied selection of trends, which allows you to put a multitude of
different looks together.
If you could pick 3 fashion must-haves that every woman should own, what would they be?
Ooohh only three that’s hard! I think for investment pieces that you can pull out of your wardrobe at any time would be the old reliable white shirt, a fitted blazer and an Obi belt. You can go from business exec to rock chick in seconds with these pieces depending on how you style them.
Your favourite trends for spring/summer 2012 and what to avoid?
There’s certainly a lot of variety in cuts, colours, prints and textures for S/S13, so this is one season where there is definitely something for everyone. My favourites are also a bit varied, from the tailored monochrome look, to bold stripes, floral prints and the Oriental trend.
I won’t say avoid the following trends but they can be difficult ones to pull off successfully, unless you’re a professional model that is! Ones to be careful with are the metallic trend – you don’t want to resemble a Quality St. wrapper, Neon, cropped tops, bold prints and checks especially on trousers, and the Gladiator boot!
What would be your advice to girls starting out in the fashion industry?
Be prepared to take on work for free, this is how you gain experience, build your portfolio and most importantly make contacts. Be under no illusion it’s a tough industry but also a very rewarding one. When people hear ‘fashion industry’ they automatically associate it with glamour, beautiful people, and parties etc. but in reality you’ll need to have both the physical and mental stamina for the long, irregular pressure filled hours.
How do you see your career evolve in the near future?
I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing at the moment, so I plan to continue working with designers, developing new concepts and going more into creative direction this year. I have also been concentrating more on the business side of the industry. I’m working on an exciting project that will be aimed at the international market, so watch this space!
What are you wearing right now?
Ok I won’t say a onesie as that might ruin my credibility! My favourite pieces in my wardrobe at the moment are skinny leather trousers by Umit Kutluk, a black fitted blazer from Zara, high heel ankle boots from Fitzparticks and a vintage wool military style coat.
What’s the most important lesson that life has taught you?
Never pass up on an opportunity; you never know where it might lead so just take it. Regardless of the outcome you’ll always learn something from it. But no matter what the opportunity might be if you want to succeed you have to put the work in, talent will only take you so far.