Friday, October 30, 2015


Crisis! I have already started my winter hibernation, and I’m afraid to get on the scales. A life changing event is urgently needed. I’m going foetal under 20 tog duvets and sucking on chocolate like it’s time released medication. I want to feel pretty and feminine, not crumpling behind the hall door after work, peeling off two layers of spanks (that cause more friction than my family at Christmas) then falling into a Kaftan that’s one stop short of a parachute, and looking accusingly at the row of empty wine bottles as though they made me do it. This morning  at 11.00 (I didn’t get my lie in) I assaulted the obstacle course that is my kitchen, made it safely to the  cupboards, and started rummaging around for goodies, previous night’s make up still on, and mascara running riot; I looked like a Racoon. Wondered if I should take a selfie a la Tyra Banks, but would probably lose my readers.

If I die at home I will have to be exhumed from the sofa. Retail therapy is called for, and such is my state; that it can only come in the form of Willow and Wild.A quick shower with Neal’s Yard stimulating Rosemary Gel, a jaunty jacket, my favourite sunglasses, a bottle of Moët shoved into my bag; and I’m ready for town.

Just outside my gate, I run into that gym bunny addict, and size 6 neighbour, Patricia, who seems to take orgasmic pleasure in making passive aggressive statements about my weight.

“Agnes, haven’t seen you in ages, love the jacket, you know when I was that size I wore jackets too, cover a multitude, don’t they?”

She smiles, revealing a mouthful of perfect veneers. I’m wondering what the end of a Moët bottle travelling at speed might do to them.  

“Thanks Patricia, yes loving my jacket this season, showcases my fab curves."

"You know when I was that size” I said nodding to her flat chest, “I ate whatever I wanted until I started to fill out like a woman, in the mean time you should fill your cups with chicken fillets darling, and maybe eat them if all else fails.”

I walk past serene as a beatified saint, while hoping Karma bites her so hard on her bony arse that she’s going to need a skin-graft. 


I’m smiling all the way to my destination, yes, after such an amazing start to my day, (self-serving, sanctimonious neighbour put firmly in her place) it’s time to truly indulge in dress-up, and immerse myself in the treasure trove of luscious and divinely ephemeral, delicately hand-crafted, and bejewelled creations of my dear and brilliant friend Bonzie, couturier extraordinaire at Willow and Wild; a brand that conjures up mythological sylvan scenes of glittering splendour. I’m not exactly a nymph, I mean you won’t see me prancing around the woods in chiffon, and if I ever do, I will most likely be mistaken for game and shot. But Willow and Wild can restore a girls flagging femininity and bring her back from the brink of sartorial suicide, no matter what state she’s in. I decide to call the incredibly obliging and very gifted photographer Matthew Reilly and make a blog of it.

Bonzie greets me at the door, her blonde curls are the colour of butter and honey, her skin is peaches and cream, (from a singular devotion to cycling) her eyes are sky blue, and there’s a warmth and sincerity from Bonzie that makes her instantly trustworthy, a quality that is vital in her business. She has been such a good friend since forever. She’s swathed in a cream silk, décolleté, vintage Chanel dress, with a handmade Chantilly lace overlay, subtly accessorised with her own work. High, peep toe, velvet dove grey shoes complete the look. She is chic beyond words.

“Darling, I need help.”  I almost scream. 

“Something fabulous and sexy, that will turn me into Jean Harlow, please Sweetie.” 

Bonzie, used to requests of all kinds, and my hysterics, takes it in her stride, and without missing a beat responds in almost musical tones.

 “Agnes, I have just the things.”

(I noticed with relief the plural…that’s Bonzie; she knows what you want before you want it; and exactly how much of it you are going to need.)

Bonzie, whom I have dubbed “The Queen of Couture Embellishments” sets women apart from their contemporaries, with a glittering array of hand crafted personalised accessories and artisan embellishments that reflect the awe-inspiring glamour, originality, and panache of bygone eras, with a highly personalised service that is second to none, and with price points that are accessible and affordable. An afternoon at Willow and Wild has incredible therapeutic clout, and while Bonzie might blush modestly and shrink from being called a couturier; that is exactly what she is.

Bonzie alters, effortlessly enhances, and emphasises a woman’s innate and natural style, from head to hemline and beyond. It’s a very rare skill. The dictates of fashion can often crush individual expression beneath an avalanche of advertising and multi-media images that collectively affect the popular consciousness, and ultimately individual choices -under the directive of trending now- a seeming call to arms for most women who want to add to and expand their existing wardrobe. Somewhere in this well-heeled melee, we lose ourselves, sacrificing our own unique and individual style to what’s current and in vogue.

 If we have indeed played it safe and purchased The Look, then our individuality can only find expression in how we accessorize, and Bonzie has elevated this time honoured art form to new heights. She will accent any garment gloriously, truly finding and reflecting a client’s deeply personal tastes, and adding immense value and gravitas to an ensemble, whether it’s for a savvy and style confident woman, or an uninitiated ingénue into the realms of heady grace and glamour. 

She doesn’t just choose an accessory or a hat for you, she prescribes it, for once you put on something so artfully created and carefully chosen, the feminine pleasure you experience is so restorative that it physically manifests; skin glows, there’s a self-confident tilt of the head, then the moment of recognition and revelation in the mirror when you see that woman you have been ignoring, and is now coming back into bloom. These are the moments that a girl truly treasures. Bonzie adores her work, and incredibly; knows each and every one of her creations intimately.  

In the house of Willow and Wild beauty reigns supreme, soft lights glow, scented candles perfume the air, vintage classics subtly play in the background, and I inhaled it all like the perfume from a tropical flower. Jewel flecked fur trims, luscious multi-faceted glittering crystal chokers and head-dresses, necklaces, feathery and bejewelled fascinators -sprouting  tufts of tulle, reams of satin ribbons, ropes of pearls, cherubs cavorting from  sconces and over photographs, silk flowers bursting from furniture heaving with delicious decoupage, starched ruffs, spangled clutch bags, elegant plumed hats, garlanded walls, chic picture frames embossed with gold leaf and papier-mâché, burgeoning hat boxes; decadent and ornate trimmings and excess positively drip from every surface, as the industrious and uber-talented Bonzie designs and creates to meet demand.

It’s just the place to feel like a fairy tale princess and escape for a sumptuous game of dress up. With the morning I have just had, and the new publication on mindfulness telling me to gently and lovingly embrace reality… (Really?) ; I couldn’t even muster an air kiss. Today I’m going to be a silver screen siren…take it or leave it Dr.Phil.

Willow and Wild is the realm of pure fantasy, and I need the escape, so while we are conveniently on the ground floor Bonzie dresses and accessorizes me in one gorgeous creation after another. I can feel myself falling under the romance and ardent rapture of a magical spell, it’s completely intoxicating. 

Upstairs a coral pink chaise longue sits serene beside a willow arch festooned with flowers and delicate little butterflies. A magnificent, sprawling, full length mirror adorns the wall with a bona-fide palpable magic that made me feel I had entered Titania’s Boudoir. Indeed the afternoon took on serious undertones of that great Shakespearian classic, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as I lay on the chaise longue,   swathed in fur and sensual trimmings like a Faery Queen, feeling entirely at home, while Matthew Reilly was the perfect Puck. 

Dancing with daring agility, moulding himself to his camera, and the scenes and ensembles before him, with the passion, eyes, and unwavering attention to detail that’s the hallmark of the true artist that he is; I was entirely mesmerised. Matthew has that very great and uncommon gift of knowing what a woman needs and requires in front of a lens. Thank you Matthew. 

By now my lethargy and bad mood had long evaporated and I was completely elated. The Moët flowed and Bonzie discussed her new projects. For an accomplished and highly intuitive business woman, there’s an otherworldly aspect to her, no doubt it’s where Bonzie’s extraordinary creativity comes from. And it’s exactly this kind of alchemical power of Bonzie’s- a woman who knows how to dress and accessorise other women to perfection- that has transformed me. It’s just a short walk from my house to Willow and Wild, but that cupboard raiding creature at 11.00am this morning?….. She’s a million miles away…mission accomplished.


Willow and Wild By Bonzie,15 Bailey’s New Street,Waterford.Phone-086-123-0696,Open Thurs-Friday-Saturday, 10.00am to 5.00pm 

Photography by Matthew Reilly 

Edited by Roland Thackaberry


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