Rosemary Mac Cabe

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Competition: win a Microsoft Surface 2 with Natalie B Coleman

This Monaghan designer is combining her life in tech with her career in fashion design in her role as brand ambassador with Microsoft Ireland

Tue, Nov 5, 2013, 07:30


It’s lashing rain on the day I meet Natalie B Coleman, Irish designer to the stars, for the first time. We know of one another, of course – we may even have emailed before – but it’s our first face-to-face, so it’s not ideal that I arrive, soaking wet and 20 minutes late, having bled (quite literally) through new shoes to make my way to her.

Coleman is gracious though; the Monaghan native, it’s fair to assume, has seen her fair share of Irish lateness – and, the day after I meet her, I receive an email telling me how nice it was to meet me and that she hopes my feet have recovered. If fashion designers are, by their very nature, divas, it’s fair to say that Coleman does not fit the mould.

But then again, maybe she does; in the long tradition of 21st-century designers, Coleman has got into bed with the big guns; we’re here to talk, after all, about her new role as ambassador for Microsoft. Yes, you read that right: fashion meets technology in a somewhat unlikely pairing. How did this come about?

“When they asked me, it just made sense,” she says, simply (Coleman does not talk in platitudes; she is straightforward, even when she’s talking emotion – discussing the inspiration behind her incredible collections). “I’m always on the go, so I need to be connected. So much of my day is spent, and people don’t realise this I think, answering emails or dealing with online orders, and I can do it all with my Surface.”

The Microsoft Surface is, of course, the company’s answer to Apple’s iPad: a touchscreen tablet with a detachable keyboard that functions on Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest (and I personally think greatest) OS.

“I use the Nokia Lumia as well,” she says, touching her phone – like Sinead O’Connor on the Late Late Show, Coleman keeps a hand on her tech at all times during our interview (although that’s where the similarities end). “They work so well together . . .”

We talk a bit about Windows 8, which felt, to me – as an Apple laptop owner who went back to Microsoft – a bit like coming home. Coleman agrees: “It’s just so easy.”

Coleman divides her time between Bristol and Ireland, with stop-offs all over the world – her travels come up several times in our talk, and her nomadic lifestyle seems very much to inspire her designs, which she says are predominantly dictated by what it is that she wants to wear.

An upcoming collection, Coleman says, was inspired by a “smashing party” she had with a friend. “We got together and got all of this old crockery – cracked plates, old cups – and we just smashed them,” she says. “It was so . . . it felt so cleansing. I feel like everyone should do it.”

Is it not, I venture, a bit wasteful? Coleman smiles. “They were really old, pieces we didn’t use . . . it was just so nice.” Coleman shows me stills of her upcoming collection, inspired by the detritus of crockeries past. In it, a model is bursting out of a paper background. Sleek tailoring and tight silhouettes are juxtaposed with broken-down prints and Wedgewood-inspired shades. It seems the smashing party wasn’t a waste, after all.

Coleman talks about how tough it is to succeed in the fashion industry – but, she says, she’s not sure she could do anything else. She’s a rarity in an industry of people complaining about the difficulties of success; she seems totally and utterly happy with her lot – and, y’know, with her Surface.

“As a Microsoft ambassador, Natalie’s passion for style and design has been enriched through the apps and services she has discovered; such as having her favourite fashion sites pinned to her Start screen and the Fashion app which allows her to follow the feed of all her favourite bloggers.”

To celebrate Coleman’s new role as Microsoft brand ambassador, Microsoft Ireland is offering a Surface 2 worth €439 to one lucky Fash Mob reader. To enter, leave a comment below – using a valid social network that you regularly use and through which you can be contacted. This competition will close on Monday, November 11th at midnight. One entry per person, and no correspondence will be entered into.