Fashion stylist Aisling Farinella rides a ladies’ bike with a red frame and a whicker basket. She has a special relationship with her bike. However, that relationship did not develop overnight.
Her previous bike was a yellow bmx, and it was Aisling’s perfect fit (Aisling isn’t very tall, and neither are bmx bikes). So when the bmx was stolen, Aisling was heart-broken and she decided to quit biking. For a year, she walked instead.
In the end, it was with help of her friend, Fiona Mullen, that Aisling got back to biking. A friend of Fiona’s had moved back to Australia, but had left her red bike in a Temple Bar repair shop. For a year it sat there – until Aisling was talking about getting another bike and Fiona remembered the red bike. After having described the bike to the shop owner, it took him two days to drag it out, but when he did, it was love at first sight. And with that, Aisling was back on a bike; a red one instead of a yellow one.
Now, she can hardly imagine having lived without it. Aisling lives three minutes from her studio on New Row South, but even for that short distance she’ll ride her bike. The photographers, architects and graphic designers she shares the studio with will know Aisling is at work when her red bike is parked in the studio’s bike room. In recent days, while Aisling was preparing the launch of Eilis Boyles 10th collection fashion showcase, the red bike would be waiting when others started arriving at the studio. Aisling likes to start work early.
Apart from starting early, Aisling’s days are unpredictable. Her whole career has been unpredictable. She holds a Masters in Cinema, but while working as a production assistant, she met photographer Gordon Goodwin and was sparked by his distinctive approach to fashion. It inspired her to become a fashion stylist. The recent Eilis Boyle installation at her studio, with its delicate lace against dark backgrounds, shows Aisling has incorporated a distinctive approach into her own unconventional style as well.
It’s that unconventional style that gives Aisling a diverse group of clients; she works for small fashion boutiques, but also for Dunnes Stores – where she styles the Savida brand. Her love for cycling has also surfaced in her professional work. When the Dublin bikes scheme launched in September 2009, Aisling styled an Irish Times special cycle edition. She sought out all sorts of Dubliners, all sorts of bikes, and all sorts of styles to show how universal cycling is.
The Irish Times special edition is well worth a read. But in the end, Aisling herself is the best tribute to cycling in Dublin. Even though her job makes it unavoidable to occasionally travel by car (to transport railings and clothes), she’ll do anything to rather ride her red bike.
Of course, the fact that she drives a drab, silver gray Opel Astra has something to do with it as well.