What the Irish in Australia miss at Christmas: the cold, the full fridge and the roast potatoes
What the Irish in Australia miss at Christmas: the cold, the full fridge and the...

Hannah Kingston

This Wexford estate with swimming pool, gym, tennis court and a gate lodge is on the market for €2.5 million
This Wexford estate with swimming pool, gym, tennis court and a gate lodge is on...

Megan Burns

IMAGE staffers on the essentials that make their Christmas
IMAGE staffers on the essentials that make their Christmas

Holly O'Neill

11 of the best Christmas sandwiches across Ireland
11 of the best Christmas sandwiches across Ireland

Sarah Finnan

‘I was disgusted… they could have helped’: Onlookers filmed Rachel McElroy in a Cork club as she was being sexually assaulted
‘I was disgusted… they could have helped’: Onlookers filmed Rachel McElroy in a Cork club...

Megan Burns

THE CAREER COACH: Seminar 4 Your Work/Life Balance
THE CAREER COACH: Seminar 4 Your Work/Life Balance

IMAGE

A fashion editor’s guide to wearing sequins
A fashion editor’s guide to wearing sequins

Marie Kelly

Shop Irish this Christmas: Meet the Claire Graham of The Old Mill Stores in West Cork
Shop Irish this Christmas: Meet the Claire Graham of The Old Mill Stores in West...

Lauren Heskin

Sparkly, dangly earrings to dress up your party season wardrobe
Sparkly, dangly earrings to dress up your party season wardrobe

Holly O'Neill

This new pre-loved fashion website is going to completely change the way you shop for vintage
This new pre-loved fashion website is going to completely change the way you shop for...

Sarah Finnan

Image / Editorial
Sponsored

‘I’m doing things my way and I’m not compromising’ – Helen Cody

Sponsored By

By Rosie McMeel
20th May 2019
Sponsored By
‘I’m doing things my way and I’m not compromising’ – Helen Cody

When fashion designer Helen Cody was diagnosed with breast cancer the physical and mental challenges she faced left her void of all creativity and she considered giving up her career in fashion for good. Well-meaning friends who suggested she should take an extended break from design only led to even more self-doubt. But a year on, with the support of her husband and her treatment (for the most part) behind her, she took a trip to Paris – her “spiritual home” – which helped reignite her creativity. Twelve months on, her work has already graced the Oscars and BAFTA red carpets and the designer is feeling more creatively fulfilled than ever before.

How has everything changed since your diagnosis?

“I felt like I shed my skin last year and I did in a way because I lost so much weight. Physically I’m so different to what I was that I find myself wearing boys’ clothes. I started tailoring, which I never did before. If you look at my mood board, it’s like I’m at odds with my femininity because I’m trying to inject the tailoring into it, but of course, I can’t help myself with the embellishments. Overall, there’s more structure to my work. I’m still grappling with the newness of all of that.”

 

How has your creativity been affected?

“I didn’t have any ideas. I went through a period of being completely blank and thinking I’d never have another idea again. This was going on the whole time I was sick. My focus and energy were all directed to keeping well. I had closed my shop in the Westbury Mall and thought maybe I should just give it all up and go get a job somewhere. My husband, Rory, urged me to hold on to the studio, that I might change my mind.”

What changed?

“We went to Paris for 10 days in November and we just walked the streets and went to galleries and it was wonderful. The joy of waking up and feeling well, and walking around Paris. It was like visual vitamins. When I came back, I had this very fractured thread of an idea about the fragility of human nature and wondered how I could articulate that? How could I say that with clothes? That’s where it started. And then I had a huge sale, got rid of all of my old things, shed the layers, shed my skin and I thought if I were an artist it would be a blank canvas. You start again. So I got a lot of white fabrics and started working into them. Just like a painter, you start with the blank canvas and then you start colouring it in. I don’t think I’ve ever been more creatively fulfilled, bizarrely. I’m so happy. I’m doing things my way. I’m doing what I want to do. I’m not compromising.”

Did you surprise people by how quickly you returned to work?

“There were a few odd reactions. People told me I was going to hit a wall and to anticipate that and I wouldn’t be able for it, telling me to take the year to emotionally recover. But I was dying to get back. I have no patience to sit around. Something has clicked in me. I’m much clearer about what I want to say. There are lots of projects in the pipeline that are really exciting. I’m an ambassador for Arc Cancer Support and we are planning a big project together and I hope it will be really beneficial to the charity.”


As a global leader in technology, Samsung continues to defy and surpass expectations. “Do What You Can’t” is a campaign driven by Samsung and based around developing products, innovation and experiences that can help empower people to defy barriers, obstacles, and do things they did not think were possible. It is so much more than a slogan and we at IMAGE encourage and dare you to #DoWhatYouCan’t … because we believe you can!