At BallyBoy Design we have always thought of the cape as a romantic garment, steeped in the history of Celtic Ireland. When I first started designing my capes and shoulder wraps I knew that to bring them to a wider audience, I would have to have them photographed. This is easier said than done when you start to search for a photographer, decide what locations to use, select models and how you can bring all that back to the essentials of BallyBoy Design.
I wanted a photographer local to my base in Co. Longford that could bring a fresh perspective, models that had a naturalness about them that reflected Ireland and the photographs to be set in a context that was unmistakably Irish. Lastly, the photographs had to work in multiple ways in terms of website, look book and press releases.
Fortunately, Ireland is not short of great locations for a fashion shoot and in particular, the area known as the Midlands, with its lakes, old Christian settlements, heritage homes, quintessential pubs and traditional market towns. I wanted to photograph my designs in both an elegant and a traditional, more relaxed, setting – I wanted my capes to go to a stylish lunch and go to the pub -preferably on the same day and look perfect in each location!
It is amazing how effective a network can be. Wendy Louise, who makes hats for me, suggested I meet with Michael Croghan, a photographer based in Longford, who had done a photo shoot for her. Through Michael we met Gemma Keenan who became our stylist and one of our models and it was Gemma who introduced us to Laurie Casey, a hairdresser, who agreed to do the hair for the shoot. Margaret O’Connor, the milliner who designs the bespoke range of hats for BallyBoy Design, introduced us to our makeup artist, the excellent Nicki Buglewicz and also to Alison Brogan who became another of our models. Close friends Schira Mullen and Maeve O’Reilly brought natural Irish beauty to the team of models and my niece, Eleanor O’Connor, took on the role of Girl Friday and did a fantastic job to ensure the shoot ran smoothly on the day.
For reasons of availability of models, locations and support staff, the shoot was scheduled for a cold, late December day. The climate in Ireland is famous for allowing you to experience all four seasons in one day, particularly during the winter months. As a result, I decided on indoor locations for the shoot with any outdoor shots being a bonus.
For the romantic and elegant location, my first choice was Virginia Park Lodge, Virginia, Co. Cavan. It evokes fond memories for me as we used to visit it regularly as children. My parents had held their wedding reception there, as did my sister. When I heard that Richard Corrigan, the renowned chef had bought it, I decided to ask if it would be possible to use it as a location. I am delighted to say that I got a resounding yes and both Richard, his sister Deidre and their staff, were wonderful in giving us access to such a lovely location, which Richard has restored to its former glory.
For the traditional and comfortable location, I asked Sean Donohoe of John V. Donohoe’s beautiful and authentic pub in Granard, Co. Longford, if we could use his premises, which he willingly agreed to.
The theme of the shoot in Virginia Park was ‘A Love Story’ inspired by the history of Virginia Park Lodge. The lodge was the backdrop to one of the most sensational love affairs of late Victorian and early Edwardian times, between Geoffrey Taylour, the Protestant 4th Marquess of Headfort and Miss Rosie Boote, a Catholic from County Tipperary and a charismatic actress on the London stage. A scandalised high society in London banded together to prevent the union and yet, Geoffrey converted to Catholicism, married Rosie in 1901 when she became the Marchioness of Headfort, and they went on to enjoy a long and happy marriage. The shoot followed one day in the life of Rosie from receiving a letter from Geoffrey in the morning saying he ‘will marry her’ to when she replies to his letter that evening saying ‘My Dear Geoffrey, hurry home, je t’aime – I love you, Rosie’.
Our look book beautifully captures the love story between Geoffrey and Rosie against the background of Virginia Park Lodge and shows the team relaxing in John V’s pub at the end of the shoot.
We are indebted to Richard Corrigan, his sister Deidre and to Sean Donohoe for all the help and support they provided to ensure the shoot was a success. A big thank you also to all the team who had a 6am start on what was a very frosty winter’s morning. We achieved our aim, BallyBoy Design’s wonderfully romantic capes went to an elegant lunch and the pub on the same day!