Singer, TV presenter, Strictly star and Voice of Ireland judge Rachel Stevens is just about to finish her flying visit to Ireland, and when we begin our chat, it’s easy to see why she was first choice to be a style ambassador for the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival (starting on June 29th); the first thing she mentions is her love of fashion and newfound admiration for Irish designer Helen Cody, who specially designed two dresses for Stevens to wear this evening as she launched the racing festival. Given her affiliation with Ireland, the effortlessly stylish singer is a natural choice for fashion ambassador, and taking time out from her hectic schedule the busy mum of two spoke to IMAGE.ie about style, shopping, Irish design and why she counts Ireland as a second home.
Tell us a little more about how you became a style ambassador for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival?
They approached me and as I love fashion and have never been to the races before I just thought it would be a really great day out. It will be fantastic to be a judge on the day as the fashion is so unique and fun. I could talk about fashion all day long; I just love it. In fact, I had planned to go into fashion initially, as it was always something I’ve been hugely interested in.
How would you describe your own sense of style?
I’m into very classic pieces and shapes so I would say classic with a bit of an edge.
In terms of fashion in Ireland, are there particular designers you like?
Ireland has some massively talented designers here. It’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to be involved with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival in that on this occasion; I got to wear pieces made by Irish designers. Take my dresses for the launch, for example. They were designed by Helen Cody, and I’ve loved them for the day; the intricate design, the way everything is hand stitched; it’s just beautiful, as is my headpiece from Laura Kinsella and jewellery from Boodles. I also love Simone Rocha and Umit Kutluk.
Do you prefer High Street or High Fashion?
I really love both, it’s nice to have a mix, but I’d say I’m more high street on a daily basis with a few designer pieces worked in. I especially love shopping here in Ireland; there’s just this fantastic energy which you feel even while wandering around. I’m definitely a Zara girl, and I love H&M, Topshop and Cos; I’m so impressed with what’s on the high street at the moment; you can pick up so many gems.
You’ve spent a good bit of time here thanks to your role as a judge on the Voice of Ireland, what Irishisms have you picked up?
I truly love it here. At this stage, it’s a home away from home for me; I love the people and as it was second time around for me on The Voice of Ireland I just felt so much more comfortable and I love the familiarity, even down to the small things like recognising people at the check-in desks at the airport and some of the phrases. One thing I did pick up on this time was the phrase getting “shifted.” A male shouted it out to me in the audience, and as I didn’t know what it meant at the time I went “Oh, all right then!” I’m also a huge tea drinker which makes me feel right at home – my choice is alway Barry’s Tea.
You’ve also been involved in a lot of charity work, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I’ve been an ambassador for Caudwell Children in the UK for a number of years now, a charity that offers support to children with disabilities and their parents, and it’s an amazing organisation to be involved with. The children are incredible. I also work with the charity Water Aid, which sets out to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation.
Finally, have you any life mottos?
I think just to breathe. Life is so fast-paced these days, it’s nice to just breathe and be in the moment.