By David Hennessy and Jan Ennis
Already familiar to UK and Irish audiences due to his presenting of the popular Fashion Sense on This Morning and ITV.com and featuring in the RTE documentary, Gay Daddy, Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations recently brought charismatic and stylish Dubliner Darren Kennedy to a whole new audience when he was picked to present across many American networks.
“It was in the lead up to the Saint Patrick’s Day festival, The Gathering and everything that is happening this year for Ireland,” the fashion stylist and blogger begins. “Obviously it’s a big year in terms of Irish heritage, they have discovered that George Clooney and Tom Cruise, I’m sure you have heard, have Irish heritage. Tom Cruise is the newest Hollywood superstar to be added to the Irish list. So I got a call basically asking me to chat to all these different American networks.
“A special rise or stage was built at the top of Stephen’s Green which producers had flown in from the states and it was all beamed by satellite live into a whole host of breakfast shows right across the states so I was talking to people on Fox Network, on ABC, on Oxygen, on the CW, and most of it was really just coming live from Dublin on the weekend when the world turns Irish, and fill them in on what was happening. It was great craic. It was an amazing opportunity and I was very proud to be representing my country on our national day to an audience of millions and millions.
“And it was lovely actually because I have an aunt who lives in upstate New York and she moved there when she was 20 and she’s now about 90, 92 and she got to watch me. I got a kick out of that because she would have never seen me do what I do, so that was kinda fun. I’ve always had a grá, shall we say, for the states and America, and I love going there on holiday and stuff and definitely in the future I would love to build that up. It’s always been in my sights. I think with anything, especially in this business, the timing needs to be right and it’s kind of working towards that, but it’s certainly set in motion now so we’ll see what happens.”
If you were watching RTE’s coverage of the The Irish Grand National, you would have seen Darren giving his opinion on the efforts people had made to dress up: “It was a great day. It was bitter cold but at least it wasn’t raining. I was there with Carlton House, they sponsored the best dressed at Fairyhouse and it was great craic. It was a busy day. The style was something else. It’s always funny at these race days. I mean I was wearing a full suit and I had a jacket and a coat and everything and I was freezing when I was outside, and then you see the women going around with the legs on show. I don’t know they do it.
“I just thought for the lads, it lacked a little bit of colour or imagination. In their defence, it was freezing cold and most lads wisely had big jackets and coats on them so I’m not going to be too harsh and assume underneath those big jackets and coats were some amazing outfits: Wishful thinking.”
So when did Darren first realise he wanted to be involved in fashion? “It’s something I’ve always been into. I remember as a five year old, I enjoyed throwing my tuppence in when my mam would be getting ready to head out on a Saturday night, telling her ‘leave your hair down’, or what colour lipstick to use or what to wear. Obviously as a five year old, I didn’t know much but I had an interest. And I’ve been influenced as well by my brother, five years older than me, he was always into fashion. My mam and dad would have been quite stylish. I look at pictures of them back in the seventies and they just looked fab, so I guess I’ve always had an influence in my life and appreciation for aesthetics and how things appear and it just kind of grew from that really and about eight, ten years ago, I said ‘I’d like to develop this, I would like to do more with this’ and that’s kind of where it all started from.”
Hard to imagine now but when he first attended college, Darren studied nothing to do with his interests: “It’s kind of a funny one. I studied international business and languages. The reason I did that was because I wanted to speak French. So when I finished school, my goal was: ‘I want to become fluent in French’. I’ve always worked. I’ve been working since I was 13. I had my first job in a petrol station so I’ve never been afraid of hard work and I’ve always been interested in media and TV and fashion. I didn’t quite know at the time how they would marry and how I would end up working in them. Because I come from a very normal, pretty much working class, my parents worked hard all their life, and we had no connections to anything media or TV or anything like that so it was always a world that was unknown to me. I had kind of decided fashion TV was where I wanted to be, I just set about doing what I could to go that way and generally when I set my heart on something, when I set my sights on something, I don’t stop until I get it.”
For the full interview, see the April 13 edition of The Irish World.