Saoirse's Style Evolution; It Seems like Moments Ago She Was the Shy Teen Wearing Jeans to the Venice Film Festival, Now She's Wearing Rodarte Having Been Being Invited to the Met Ball by Anna Wintour. It's Been a Joy to Watch

Daily Mail (London), May 5, 2011 | Go to article overview

Saoirse's Style Evolution; It Seems like Moments Ago She Was the Shy Teen Wearing Jeans to the Venice Film Festival, Now She's Wearing Rodarte Having Been Being Invited to the Met Ball by Anna Wintour. It's Been a Joy to Watch


Byline: by Tom Sykes

WHEN Saoirse Ronan stepped out of a limousine and into the flashbulbs of a thousand photographers at the Met Ball in New York City on Monday, it was confirmation, were any needed, of the Co. Carlow schoolgirl's transformation from shy ingenue into a 17-year-old style icon.

That Saoirse would be attending the Met Ball at all would have seemed a fantasy just a few years ago. For this is international fashion's biggest night of the year, hosted by Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue, the most powerful woman in fashion -- who personally invited Saoirse to attend.

That she would be rubbing shoulders with Madonna, Iman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Stella McCartney would have seemed most improbable in early 2007, when Saoirse was still living near the market town of Tullow, and acting now and again on The Clinic.

The following year, however, Saoirse's career exploded when she became one of the youngest ever to be nominated for an Oscar for her performance in World War II drama Atonement. Her initial red carpet appearances, however, were notable for their casualness -- she dressed like any other teen.

One of her first public outings to promote Atonement was at the Venice Film Festival in August 2007.

SHE wore a pair of beaten-up old jeans, a print vest that looked like it might have come from Topshop with her strawberry blonde hair tied back in a loose pony-tail. She shrugged into a black sweater to complete the non-look, and her dad escorted her on the red carpet.

She looked every inch the 13 year old. But, by the time she attended the Oscars in 2008, just a few months later, Saoirse's style evolution had very clearly commenced. her performance in Atonement earned her an Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress, but she received almost as much attention for her outfit -- a V-cut emerald Alberta Ferretti gown, and her hair scraped back showing off her perfectly-sculpted facial features.

Although her Oscar look was at the time declared a hit, with her featuring prominently on every best dressed list, in retrospect she seems slightly off-centre for one so young. While there was an understandable urge to sell Saoirse as a 'grown-up' who deserved to be taken seriously by American audiences, the Ferretti dress probably put too many years on her. It was a rare mis-step, and it may be simply down to her youth, and the fact that at 13, most people would wear whatever they were told to.

Since then, however, those who have worked with Saoirse behind the scenes say that, while still ready to accept advice, she has taken more and more control over her clothing, hair and make-up choices.

By the beginning of this year, for example, with Anna Wintour known to be taking an interest, she was being besieged by designers desperate to dress her for the Met Ball.

Saoirse, being Saoirse, didn't do the predictable thing and wear a safe and classic look. Instead, she bravely opted for a deep rich red gown, with a red crepe bodice and sequined tulle skirt by the relatively unknown label, Rodarte. She attended the event with its designers, Californian sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy.

And, just to shake things up a little more, last month, when she was still in Ireland, she took a trip up to Dublin where she called in on her long-serving hairdresser Conor McAllister at Grafton Barbers -- and had all that famous long hair cut off.

'She rang me and said, "Look, I'm serious, I want to go shorter, what do you think?" and I said, "I think it will look amazing" and she was like, "OK, let's go for it",' McAllister says. …

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