Irish models: a new breed

A different type of Irish model is emerging – but she may not hang around


The words “Irish model” – along with the words “bank guarantee” and “solid investment” – have lost their original meaning over the past decade to become synonymous with bikinis on Stephen’s Green, fake tan and even faker hair, nightclub openings and high-profile weddings.

There remains – and probably always will – demand for these promotional appearances and guaranteed column inches. But alongside this robust market has emerged demand for a new type of model, who happens to be Irish, but is far removed from the “lovely girls”.

Leading the way has been Anne Morgan, a former model whose agency, Distinct Model Management, is itself the new kid on the block. From the beginning – in its original incarnation as Absolute the Agency – Morgan’s money has been on new and interesting faces, on unique looks and a potential that extends beyond photocalls.

Laura O’Grady was one of Morgan’s most successful signings. She’s 5ft 10in and looks delicate, almost mouse-like, with large features. She has moved to London, where she is on Select’s books, along with Agyness Deyn and Liu Wen.

Morgan is not alone in seeking out this new type of Irish model. Andrea Roche runs one-day model “bootcamps” to teach girls the skills necessary to work as a model. This is where she met Clara McSweeney, a 5ft 11in 16-year-old with a pout and waist-length hair. McSweeney has since worked for Social & Personal and U magazines .

On its Facebook page, 1st Option Models uploads photographs of new girls on a regular basis, and some are stunning. Take Aveen Kinsella, spotted at the DCU student fashion show this year by director Trish Fallon, or Catherine Donnelly, who has the kind of delicate bone structure glossy magazines cry out for.

You won’t see these girls at a photocall for Tesco, or promoting the latest big Lotto jackpot. These are the girls who may on the catwalk or travelling to London for work for high-end publications. There’s a new kind of Irish model in town – and she may not hang around.

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