Though the red carpet arrivals for the Peter Mark VIP Style Awards won’t kick off until 7pm, at 12.15pm it’s already buzzing backstage in the hair and makeup suite at the Marker Hotel in Dublin’s Docklands.
Amidst a flurry of constant arrivals, teams of hair and make-up professionals from event sponsors Peter Mark and Lancôme are busy beautifying some of Ireland’s best known faces.
The annual event — dubbed ‘Ireland’s Met Gala’ by host Darren Kennedy – will see a host of famous faces battling it out to be deemed Ireland’s Most Stylish.
At a time when everyone is a fashion critic, the ability to pull together a red carpet look is a skill that has to be mastered by anyone hoping to avoid the dreaded “Worst Dressed” lists.
For some nominees, the walk up that red carpet begins months in advance with consultations for custom made designer dresses; for others it’s a more last minute affair.
A couple of years ago Emma Watson posted a photo on Twitter of the make-up used to prep her for her red carpet appearance for the film Noah, sharing a picture, opposite, with her 12.5million followers captioned: ‘I did NOT wake up like this!’
Seeing the boxes of Elnett stacked against the wall at the VIP Style Awards, and the brightly lit make-up stations neatly packed with an array of luxury products that beauty bloggers would give their right arms for, the blood, sweat and hairspray that goes into every red carpet look begins to become apparent.
Under the watchful eyes of Lancôme’s Róisín Tierney-Crowe and Peter Mark’s Michael Doyle, their teams have been tasked with spending the next six hours creating dozens of on-the-spot looks to help make every celebrity’s red carpet vision a reality.
While events like this are nothing new to RTÉ star Bláthnaid Treacy, her natural flair for fashion and laid-back, boho style mean she takes them in her stride.
This is her first time indulging in the professional pampering services available to nominees and invitees, but she has arrived armed with a specific idea for the look she wants to achieve.
Pulling a vintage-style embellished headband from her bag, she tells hair stylist Wendy Hyland she’d like something Gatsby-esque with a festival feel.
As Wendy sets to work, curling and wrapping the hair around the headband for a carefully disheveled look, Bláthnaid offers me a glimpse of what it typically takes to get “red carpet ready”.
Though she admits to once getting unduly stressed about a red carpet appearance, now she says her priority is not just to look good, but also to feel comfortable.
“I do remember one event I was going to, where I got so stressed about what I was going to wear,” she recalls.
“Afterwards I just thought, what was the point in worrying about that?
“My feet were killing me, and I said I am never, ever going to do that again!
“Since then I always make sure I can walk and dance in the shoes, and have fun.
“It’s pretty non-stop at the moment,” she says of her life as a rising star in RTÉ.
Though she has presented her evening TV show, Two Tube, for almost four years, the addition of the weekly bi-lingual National Chart Show to her schedule means that this year “it has kind of gone insane!
“Two Tube is pretty full-on,” she says.
“It’s Monday to Friday, we’re there morning till evening; we can be out and about interviewing people, flying to London for junkets, and then doing studio as well.
"On Fridays I finish up in Two Tube, grab dinner in the canteen, then run over to the radio building. I love it, so I don’t really notice that I don’t have a huge amount of spare time!” she laughs.
Coming as they do in waves — “Just before Christmas I had something like five different events,” she reveals — she occasionally turns to stylist Laura Mullett for help with high profile appearances.
"It was Laura who suggested the Scribe by Roz suit she wore when she attended the uber-A-List BAFTA nominee party in Kensington Palace this year, as a guest of Lancôme.
“In the morning I can’t be thinking about what outfits to put together, so I just throw a couple of options in my bag and then I pick and choose. I worry about my outfits when I have to worry about them,” she shrugs, adding, “I leave it till the last minute, always.”
It’s an approach she seems happy to extend to her red carpet fashion choices too, but it’s a testament to her strong sense of personal style and her growing confidence as a style-setter that she can dash into Folkster the evening before a major fashion event and put together a look that lands her in the running for the Look of the Night award, in addition to her nomination for Look of the Year.
Abandoning her initial choice at the last minute to go with something more ‘her’, Bláthnaid tells me “I think I’ve worn Folkster dresses for the last three VIP awards, and I love the girls in there, they’re great to work with.”
In the end, it was a headband she spotted on a mannequin that lent the look that essential Gatsby feel, becoming the focal point of her hairstyle and inspiring a beauty look that Lancôme’s Lorraine Byrne described as “very much Bláthnaid’s vision”.
In keeping with the dress and hair, Lorraine kept the make-up soft, romantic and effortless looking, with dewy skin, smudged, earthy tones on the eyes, and a berry lip fit for a modern Daisy Buchanan.
Bringing it all together with some low-key pieces from a jewellery range she loves — Terrible Beauty, designed by Maria Parsons and inspired by the 1916 rising — it was a red carpet look that didn’t fail to impress, and showed no signs of Bláthnaid having to rush back to RTÉ, in full hair and makeup, to work for the afternoon.
Though she didn’t walk away with any of this year’s awards, in the arena of public opinion Bláthnaid Treacy red carpet look was definitely one of the night’s big winners.
With a natural warmth, humour and charm perfectly suited to her chosen profession, there’s no reason to think her rise through the ranks at RTÉ might be halted any time soon, but a second career as a red carpet stylist could certainly await her if it were.