Smart Casual is launching soon, it's time to meet our hosts

  • by IMAGE

It's no secret that we're a big fan of podcasts here at IMAGE. From our biweekly wine chats with Sophie and Rhona on The Spill, to our monthly PodClubs, when podcasts are involved, we're all ears. We wanted to find a way to blend our love of podcasting with IMAGE's extensive history in style and fashion. And what we came up with was Smart Casual - IMAGE's first fashion podcast, in collaboration with Kildare Village, dealing with personal style in a way that speaks to you.

Ahead of launching IMAGE's first ever fashion podcast– hosted by Digital Editor Dominique McMullan, Fashion Director Marie Kelly and Digital Leader Niamh O'Donoghue – we want you to get to know the faces behind the voices. Our hosts each have their own unique perspectives and opinions on personal style, fashion movements and how fashion affects us. 

First up is's digital leader, Niamh O'Donoghue.




What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is a way to tell the world who you are and what you represent. Fashion is not constrained to one form; it's an open-ended entity for expression and creative freedom to flourish.

What is your first fashion memory?

I have a lot of fashion memories from the 90s (I was born in '93, in case any of you are feeling ill about that), though I can't pinpoint just one – probably because they were all pretty major fashion moments. I distinctively remember the sailor suit my mam dressed me in when I was about three. I remember the screaming episode I had aged five after the top-half of my favourite pair of yellow corduroy dungarees dropped into the loo behind me. There was my endless parade of cycle-shorts and scrunchies, and then I can't forget the matching baby-blue velour tracksuit from Dunnes that I begged my mam for.

How would you describe your personal style?


There are two sides to my fashion personality: there's the tailored, refined one, and the street-conscious one. My day-to-day style varies from boyish tailoring and feminine power suits to whatever the latest Nike drop is.  My style – I use that term loosely – originates from a physical disability. I was diagnosed with a rare spinal deformity at 13 and clothes became my armour and helped me feel more confident about my body. I learned to experiment with shape and form and used clothes to help hide my curved spine. I'm not really influenced by trends and I try and buy/invest in pieces that withstand fast trends. I'm trying to shop more consciously, too.

Who is your biggest Irish style icon?

My tastes constantly change, but I've always admired Joanne Hynes, Angela Scanlon and Sonya Lennon for the confident approach they take on their personal style. Instagram has become a great source of inspiration too. I love discovering the undiscovered. What I love most about Instagram is that no rules apply when it comes to fashion and there's literally a sea of new brands to discover, right at your fingertips!

What do you think is the biggest issue facing fashion today?

Fast fashion. We need to slow down and be mindful of frivolously buying cheap clothes for a night on the town and turn our intention instead to investing in pieces that withstand fast-fashion trends. Equally, I think supporting Irish design and independent boutiques is as important. Neither our high streets nor our wardrobes would be as beautiful or as interesting if it wasn't for independent boutiques. These are some of my favourite Irish (sustainable) designers right now: @jill&gill@nataliebcoleman@momusejewellery@lennoncourtney, @morganna_murphy@aislingduffydesigns.

What are your top three AW18 must-haves? 
Brown is the new black this season so I'm investing in a pair of sturdy brown leather boots. I love these croc-effect boots from Topshop, below. The patent and animal print is ticking all the right boxes for me. I'm also eager to get myself a chunky-knit, box-cut cardigan and I'm really excited to treat myself to a Danse Lente leather handbag, too. The Italian brand is going to be the new 'It'-bag for AW18...I wouldn't be me if I didn't invest in a new pair of trainers as well...
 Hattie ankle boots, €125 at
 Hattie ankle boots, €125 at
 What are your must-see collections in upcoming fashion weeks?
My favourite thing about fashion week is discovering new designers and labels, so I'm eager to see the new talent that emerges from London, NYC and Paris in the coming weeks. I'm really excited to see Riccardo Tisci's debut show for Burberry as Creative Director – he has big shoes to fill after Christopher Bailey. I'm interested to see where Hedi Slimane will take Celine and its rebrand..It's an exciting time for fashion!

What are you most excited about in launching Smart Casual?

I'm most excited about the calibre of guests we'll have on the show. We have a really interesting group of successful, relatable and savvy women in our bank, and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to speak with them.

What can we expect from you as a host of Smart Casual?

First thing's first, I'm the youngest host, so I'll be bringing a quite a different perspective to the podcast. As a millennial (shudder), I see the world a little differently and consume content differently and that I think will come across quite clearly. Ultimately, what we want to do is make fashion – and everything the fashion world encompasses, be it art, culture, business etc. – and make it accessible for all IMAGE readers. The three of us have an interesting and contrasting dynamic that really sets us apart from other podcasts.

Smart Casual is brought to you in partnership with Kildare Village, Ireland's premier luxury shopping destination. To kick things off before the official launch of Smart Casual, we're offering IMAGE readers an exclusive 10% off at Kildare Village with our September issue. Simply pick up a copy (on shelves tomorrow!) and head to the Village any time throughout September to redeem your offer. Happy shopping!

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