Northern Ireland's snappy dressers


Does Belfast enjoy a microclimate different to that of the rest of the country? On the evidence of so much blonde hair and such deep sun tan at last Tuesday's Northern Ireland Best-Dressed Awards, the city must rarely experience rainfall. Held over lunch in Roscoff restaurant and sponsored by Northern Woman magazine, both the event and the venue were reminiscent of the 1980s, a decade in which hard-edged consumerism appeared to be the very acme of style. Even if the 1990s have proven not quite so caring or sharing as was once thought would be the case, conspicuous consumption usually no longer tends to find favour to the extent shown on Tuesday.

Hairdressing and interior decoration, now almost interchangeable professions, were particularly to the fore at last week's awards ceremony, presided over by a man who could be a spokesman for both, Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen of BBC Television's Changing Rooms. Dressed in a floral chintz suit so loud it even managed to drown out Roscoff's champagne-drenched conversation, Llewelyn-Bowen forestalled all critical comment by making a sequence of self-deprecating remarks about his appearance. Would that this example had been followed by some of the other guests wearing equally blinding clothes. A quieter note was struck by the black-clad Paula Reed, style director of Conde Nast Traveller and John Rocha; the latter, via Waterford Crystal, was a co-sponsor of the awards.

Oddly enough, some of the most subdued lunchers - in manner and dress alike - were those short-listed for the awards. Among the chosen few were hairdresser Joanne Mulgrew, interior designer Barbara Ann Carville, hairdresser Mark Rice, and photographer Chris Hill. And the winners were - interior decorator Sirin Lewendon and model-turned-artist (and imminent father) Terry Bradley. Both, strange to say, are based not in Belfast but Dublin.