WEAR a crown, and not a mask. That is the message behind a powerful photoshoot featuring a diverse group of people organised by a Cork milliner.
Lesley Teehan, of the very successful Harper’s Hats, wants her brand to celebrate an all-inclusive version of sisterhood and that’s why, among others, she invited two transgender sisters, a young woman with Down Syndrome and a woman battling breast cancer to be part of her recent photoshoot, celebrating #StyleSisterhood.
Explaining how the idea for her Autumn/Winter campaign came about, she said: “We’re all human. We all have those days where we don’t feel our best, and that’s OK!”
Lesley is speaking from the heart as her business was inspired by the loss of her beloved dad from cancer. And the name Harper’s Hats is after her ‘little miracle baby’ Harper born through IVF.
“Our beginning, as regular people, taking a chance on a dream and hoping it would resonate with similar people, means that we do not aim for an exclusive market, we aim for the all-inclusive, a medium lacking judgement, that breeds honesty and beauty that is easily achieved,” she said.
Lesley, originally from St Lukes, and now based in Dunmore East, Waterford, said her designs are all about creating ‘luxury, bespoke pieces that are affordable, to bring the joy felt by owning something truly unique while also being affordable, so that every #StyleSister can have that feeling, regardless of their circumstances.’
“When I thought about who I wanted to invite to this campaign, I had a wish list of strong incredible people and each person I asked said yes,” she said.
“They all bring their own story, their own beauty and defining truth to our #StyleSisterhood, they are us, they are you, they are everyone, just like Harper’s Hats.”
Featuring in the campaign were transgender sisters Jamie and Chloe Herlihy, from Bishopstown who shared their story publicly a few years ago to help others going through the same thing.
Chloe said: “I just loved the message Lesley had: StyleSisterhood. Inclusion of everyone, no matter your age, gender or ability.”
She also invited Niamh Cafferky, from Whitechurch, who has Down Syndrome, and who continues to make headlines, from sitting her Leaving Cert some years back to modelling for the recent Breaking Down Barriers Ball in aid of Cope.
“I got to know Niamh through the ‘ability@work’ programme and am delighted she wanted to be involved,” said Lesley.
The only non-Cork ambassador is Fiona Morgan Coleman. Lesly said: “Fiona is currently undergoing chemotherapy, for a diagnosis of breast cancer. She has the most unique spirit and approach to overcoming cancer. Every day she does make up tutorials on Instagram. Her positivity is infectious. I am thrilled she is part of our campaign as she shows strength, optimism and style, at a time that could break someone.”
Next up was Ethan Desmond, creative force behind From the Sketch...Up!
A fashion illustrator, originally from Shandon/Blarney Street he created the logo for Harper’s Hats and the two have built up quite a bond.
“Lesley asked me to model to represent those of us who take charge of our individuality through our personal style regardless of gender labels. Inspired by Billie Porter, Grace Jones and Erin O’Connor, I said gladly!”
Eimear Hallahan, of Whitegate, was also a must-have for Lesley. She’s a brand ambassador for Harper’s Hats and Lesley describes her as ‘an up and coming blogger; from girly chats to sharing real life problems she’s a breath of fresh air.’
Finally, completing the line-up was Shauna Doyle, a well known Cork influencer.
“This young lady is not only stylish, funny and a make-up artist; she is also embarking on her masters in CIT. I am thrilled Shauna is involved in our campaign as I feel for young people today she is using her platform as a light- hearted escape, but she also speaks so eloquently about online bullying, education and reaching for the stars,” said Lesley.
Make-up by Liz Desmond Hair by Stephen Hennessy Stylist, Fiona Lemasney Photography by @play_creativeagency