So at the weekend we had a mosey into the Xpose Live show in the RDS. We felt compelled to go as I live across the road (it would be rude not to) and we had been subjected to the most aggressive advertising campaign in Irish broadcasting history. If you happened to tune in to TV3 at any stage of the day or night, over the past 6 months, nestled in between a plethora of imported reality TV programming you may have noticed up to 8 adverts for Xpose Live! over the course of an hour.  Not one to shy away from such powerful marketing strategies, myself, Mother Dearest and Rachel checked it out.

Now before I explode into a litany of complaints, I have to admit at the outset that I misinterpreted the brief. Or the raison d’etre to be more exact. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I suppose at the very least a I thought I was going to see a ‘show’, as it offers in the title: ‘Xpose Live Show’. But not being on the RDS show circuit, nor being a bride-to-be, first-home-buyer, car aficionado or big-toy enthusiast, I have never fully experienced the trade-show. So I guess I was a little under whelmed by the fact Xpose Live was simply a warehouse full of retailers peddling their wares. Promotional gimmickery was at a dangerous high and many of the showcased stalls had only the most tenuous connection to the lifestyle industry. I wasn’t really expecting demonstrations of Power Plates (vibrate the fat away) or Aviva Healthcare reps swanning around in their eyesore uniforms.

There were some fantastic little boutiques, the likes you may not have the opportunity to see otherwise, being as far flung as Wexford, Belfast, Dundalk and indeed Malahide (some of us just don’t make it out that far). Liberty Blue in Belfast had some quirky bits of jewellery, including some rather dainty charm necklaces and knuckledusters.

Ruby Rouge in Wexford (the site of my Malene Birger purchase) is a beautiful emporium of whimsical dresses and playful shoes. The store is reimagined as a cake-shop crossed with a little girls dressing room and the owners managed to recreate the look in the very small space they had in the RDS.

Neola boutique in Dundalk was quite a find, stocking directional, unique pieces, veering from pretty to edgy. They had a cute little collection of miniature hats for the races, modeled below by Rachel.

‘The Races’ seemed to be the theme of the weekend in fact – many of the fashion stalls had race collections, there were hats everywhere and even the beauty stands were offering advice on surviving race day make-up blunders. Basically apply like war paint.

Price-wise, there were some savings to be had and I’m sure boutique owners were up for some haggling fandango. A lot of the stands were offering 3-for-2 and everything here under €49 types of promotions.  Ultimately I felt almost resentful that I was being pressurised to buy at what I perceived to be more of an event and less of a market.
The catwalk shows were on-the-whole very lethargic and staid. They were revived by a fantastic female dance troupe who performed some breakdance pieces in between collections, and their skill and enthusiasm was only slightly overshadowed by their impressive stage outfits.  I do love a good dance number, especially if it involves staccato robot movements, so the troupe got two definitive thumbs up.

The boutique catwalk collection was very pretty – ballerinas courted the models and the models walked down the runway with huge white balloons in an inspired piece of stage managing.

Otherwise the show was fairly innocuous, with lots of middle-of-the-road crowd-pleasers and topless male models designed to invoke maximum cat-calling. The Persil Fashion Show for Students was possibly the highlight of the whole event, with a rake of students working around the theme ‘white’, producing a diverse, imaginative and unnervingly beautiful collection of ‘machine washable pieces’. I love how advertising brands can work their message so subtly into collaborations.

And that was it. We paid €60 to gain entry to a massive, overheated warehouse of shops with lots of hit-and-miss fashion and some random tarot reading and chiropractic services. Despite checking in on four different occasions, the RDS had run dry of goodie bags (that’s really what you pay the entry fee for) and so we left without our free tea-bags and breakfast bars and instead laden down with leaflets and flyers. It was a good opportunity to explore the Irish fashion boutique terrain, but ultimately the whole affair was lacklustre. But again, I should have just read the small print.