Andrea Horan is the founder of kitsch Dublin nail bar Tropical Popical and a passionate advocate of the three Fs – feminism, femininity and fun. Renailssance, an exhibition showcasing work from the year-long collaboration between Tropical Popical and the National gallery opened at the gallery last week. Here in conversation with Marie Kelly, Horan reveals what fashion means to her, how she brings vibrancy to her eclectic look and why women don't need to sacrifice femininity for strength.
I've never been a follower of fashion or trends. Instead, I’ve always had an eye for the extravagant and the alternative, and for this reason, I’m happier sitting on the outskirts of the mainstream. When I opened Tropical Popical, I never felt under pressure to try and appeal to everyone. I was happy for us to find the people who loved our vibe rather than dilute it for a wider audience.
My style suggests that comfort and glamour can live harmoniously. When I dress in the morning, I’m ready for work, dating, partying and anything else the day throws at me. What I wear has to be comfortable, and smart enough to project authority, but always with what I consider a sexy edge. The pieces I wear are quite basic; the vibrancy comes mostly from my accessories.
Andrea Horan in her home, which is as vibrant and eclectic as her style
In the past, when I’ve gone through difficult times, I’ve put on weight. My size wasn’t catered for then, so I had to get creative with accessories to continue to communicate who I was through what I wore – my personality hadn’t changed, just my size. I can shop standard sizes now, but am I more deserving of beautiful clothes simply because my body is smaller? Getting dressed is not and should not be a moral issue.
I don’t shop very often; I’ve owned most of the pieces in my wardrobe for years. I’m not a hoarder, though. I only buy items I love and rarely throw anything out. My wardrobe is a hotch-potch of pieces that I rehash in different ways. Each item takes on a totally new lease of life depending on what I pair it with.
My style icons are Joan Collins in Dynasty and Elektra in the BBC drama Pose because they are power looks that celebrate femininity.
Too often, women are asked to sacrifice femininity for what is perceived as strength. Each of these women projects strength, but celebrates the power of softness and vulnerability too. This is what I aim for when I get dressed – strength, kindness and empathy.
I love the political statements Natalie B Coleman and Richard Malone make in their collections, and the vibrant prints and inclusiveness of Helen Steele’s designs. It’s always good to remember, though, that while fashion is art, a thing of empowerment and a bringer of joy, at the end of the day, we’re talking about clothes.
Portraits of Andrea Horan by Doreen Kilfeather.
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