Best known as the wife of singer Daniel, Majella O’Donnell’s spreading her wings: with her memoir, It’s All In The Head, making its mark in the book charts, she’s also dipping a toe into fashionable waters. We caught up with the burgeoning style queen at Clery’s, where she was celebrating Irish designer labels like Art on Fashion, Libra, Avalon, Personal Choice and Naya.
How has your style changed over the years?
It’s changed absolutely; it’s even changed since I met Daniel, because I’ve had to be much more conscious of people looking at me and saying, “what’s she wearing.” I’ll be honest, I’m not great at it, my daughter – I don’t know where I got her – she’s fantastic, she throws on a few accessories and looks great. I’ve to look at the mannequins to see what they’re wearing, and then I copy it!
What are your winter wardrobe essentials?
There’s some great over-sized knitwear, that you can put over anything. I like bright coats for winter too.
Which Irish labels to do you like?
I like Libra, it’s a very good label, and Art Fashion is a great designer. They have lots of patterns and butterflies which I love. Because of my age, I like three-quarter sleeves, because the tops of your arms are the first thing to go, so they’re flattering, and I like below the knee too.
How do Irish women rate on the styleometer?
I think the Irish are fantastic. I go to America and Australia with Daniel, and to walk down Grafton Street in Dublin, or any of the cities in Ireland, I think Irish women are up there with the best of the best. They’ve become quite brave – it’s a fun thing isn’t it, to dress up – and I suppose too it had something to do with having money, but even if you don’t have much, there are places like Penneys and Dunnes that have some really fantastic stuff.
Tell us about one of your investment purchases?
My Burberry trench coat. I’m not a great one for spending loads of money on clothes, especially because I’m going to things and appearing on television, and you find you’re pictured in it once and then you think I’ll wear it again, but people say, “Jesus has she nothing else to wear apart from that!” So I don’t spend a fortune; €100 or €150 on a dress for an appearance, but never €400 or €500.
What about your best bargain buy?
The cheapest thing was a pair of linen trousers I bought in Next 12 years ago and they were about €19. I wear them in the summer all the time, they’re brilliant quality.
Who’s your style icon?
My daughter; it’s true! Honest to God… I can’t think of anyone else.
Do you dress depending on your mood? If I’m not in the public eye, you’ll find me in my flat boots, jeans and a jumper; very relaxed and very comfortable. I want to wear five inch heels, but I just can’t – I’m getting older and the heels are getting lower, so now it’s three inches. Then I also have my fat wardrobe and my regular wardrobe, so if I find I’m heavier – like this morning I put on a dress and I thought “that’s for when I loose a couple of pounds off my thighs” – I don’t throw things out. So really there’s the mood wardrobes, the size wardrobes, the professional wardrobes! I fluctuate a good seven or eight pounds, so I’ll get weight down and comfortably wear the size 12, and then I’ll be up to a 14.
Where do you stand on shoes?
Lots of women buy the shoes and style the outfit around it; my daughter has the big high shoes and she loves Jimmy Choo and Louboutin, but I don’t have the same regard for them as she would. I’d rather buy a pair of shoes for a €150, maybe. I get bored very easily – now I do love footwear and especially quirky shoes, and there’s some I wish I could walk in…
Tell us about your biggest fashion faux pas?
I wore a dress that was literally like a spiders web: it was black lace and had a slip underneath it and short cap sleeves. I wore it on stage and when I saw it on TV, well it was a sight, a complete and utter sight. People told me after the show, “never wear that dress again!” I thought it was grand, but when I saw it back I thought, “oh my god.”
And what about best fashion moment?
I was in Florida on holiday, and I’d bought a dress from Zara. It was black with a stripe going down the middle, with white on the other side – yeah it was quite trendy! I wore black high heeled shoes with it, and a small black Chanel handbag. I was walking down a boulevard and it’s the best I’ve ever felt. I thought, “you know what, I feel like a million dollars.” It was just a Zara dress, but I felt brilliant.