About Hilary Thompson

Hilary Thompson has been working in the modelling industry for three decades. LIMERICKnow caught up with Hilary to chat about the challenges that face her industry at the moment and get her style tips for this season's trends.

How did you get involved in the modelling industry?

Modelling and fashion always attracted me. In my teens I trained under the guidance of well-known Model Agent Maureen Walshe. It was a tough but necessary training which formed the basis for my future career. My first television ad at age sixteen was for Scweppes Tonic as My Dark Rosaleen and was filmed in Knapogue Castle. Unfortunately I had a little mishap by falling off a wall, which delayed the shoot for the rest of the day! This followed later with another television ad for Harp and I worked alongside Jackie Lavin. I also did a lot of work for Woman's Way Magazine in my twenties typecast as the young housewife with ads for Knorr Soups, Butcher Boy sausages and many more. Intermingled with my modelling, I was studying international languages, majoring in Spanish and German.

When did you start your own modelling agency?

I started my own agency twenty-nine years ago, not realising what I was letting myself in for. But modelling and style is the love of my life and I wouldn't change it for the world. Among my first patrons were Gretta Coughlan now proprietor of GrettaGibbs, Catherine Street and Jerry Relihan of JR Fashions, Thomas Street. They booked my agency for a fashion show in Nenagh. I have since expanded my horizons and work from Dundalk to Cork. It has been a rollercoaster career with ups and downs along the way but I have learnt a lot in the process.

How has Limerick kept you busy?

My hometown Limerick has been very good to me. A few years ago I had a serious back injury and had to curtail my activities. My recovery was slow and this definitely affected my business at the time. But things have improved substantially now and I have an excellent team of models coupled with my sound and lighting team and compere who are all very loyal to me. Apart from my shows, I have become very involved with fundraising for Breast Cancer in the mid-west region involving women who have breast cancer as models in the various fashion shows. I really admire these women and working with them has made a big difference to my life. David and Julianne Dineen are the couple who have spearheaded all these fundraising events in the past two years and have done trojan work for the Breast Cancer Unit in the Mid-West Regional Hospital. I am also the Fashion Editor with The Limerick Independent newspaper which keeps me busy and it is very challenging. I love writing about all the latest styles and sometimes get to travel abroad to Paris or Italy to see the catwalk shows and research the different trends.

Through all of the decades of fashion which one is your favourite?

My favourite decade would be the 40's for its structured look and elegance. But I also liked the trends in the 60's for the freedom of style they gave and the simplicity. This was also the era that introduced the mini, bell-bottom jeans and flower-power. At the time I was a teenager and loved the Beatles. My favourite designer of all time is Coco Chanel. Her influence continues to shine through with contemporary designers emulating her look in their designs up to the present day. Fashion in 2010 is very diverse with the return of the broad shoulder, trench coat and cinched-in waistlines.

What are your key looks this summer?

I am happy to say that the ever-popular maxi dress is back for spring/summer 2010 in bright fluorescent colours and prints that is perfect for holidays. The trench coat, which is very versatile is also everywhere. Burberry Prorsum have revamped the classic trench making it more feminine this season. They have given it a slightly puffball look in the skirt and big shoulders. Victoria Beckham is regularly seen in her trench, but mind you it's a new design on each occasion! An effortly stylish waist-whittling trench looks equally stylish over a slim-fitting dress or trousers and will take you anywhere in any weather. Tailored blazers, stripes and the military look is fabulous, just be careful not to overdo the stripes. Update your darker indigo denim with a few key accessories such as a long stripy Breton top which can look very chic and finish off with a pair of wedges or killer heels. Spring/summer's must have jacket mixes military with biker and safari styles with great attention to detail. Scarves are still a "so right now" accessory and with good reason. They add a splash of colour to any outfit and you can also invest in a stylish cashmere number for those chilly summer evenings. Think big from glasses to bags and jewellery introducing lots of glamour to your look. Make your intentions clear with glossy gleaming see-through accessories. Also this season, bags go from the maxi tote to mini pouch and evening clutch. The classic white shirt is back in whatever style you like, from loose and casual to sleek and smart. It can be worn with denims or a pencil skirt and loads of long chains.

What fashion advice would you give to women in their 30's, 40's, 50's or does it matter?

I wouldn't really differentiate on age as such. The first piece of advice I would give is that regardless of what age you are it is important to dress to complement your shape and height. Also underwear is very important at any age as it makes a huge difference to how your clothes hang. We often see outfits on people that we would love but may not necessarily suit the individual. You need to have boundaries and only buy what you know you will wear and can mix and match with other items in your wardrobe. What is helpful is to try and inject some colour into your clothes and also upgrade with a few items that are in season. You need to be clever and work your wardrobe to suit your budget, lifestyle and shape.

What tips and advice would you give to aspiring young models?

For anyone who wants to be a model go and get professional advice and make sure you think it through as it is not as easy as it seems. The modelling business is very competitive and not all models make the grade. There is a height limit of 5'7" . Mostly sizes range from 10 to16 for the fashion shows. I for one am very happy that the curvy look is back in fashion. I am modelling a long time and for anyone who is starting out it is a great way to boost your confidence. People will say modelling is very bitchy, and yes it can be, but you can also make some good friends.

Hilary at home