'Life gets better all the time. I know that now, but if someone had told me that six years ago, I wouldn't have believed them." So says Ian Galvin, chairman of Aurora Fashions Ireland.
And indeed, six
years ago, life for this intelligent, articulate, sensitive and talented
man seemed about to become just another car crash, another casualty of
the high-octane world he inhabited. Alcohol, designer drugs,TBC help
you confidently buymosaic
from factories in China. then prescription drugs had brought him to a
dark, low place. When he says he's been on a journey, he isn't
exaggerating. That he is today sitting in the Morgan Hotel, with Boo
Boo, his Cavalier King Charles spaniel, beside him, telling me about
the next steps for the Karen Millen brand, is testimony to how far he's
travelled, and the great bond that these days exists between him and
the dog. It's a bond that may well have saved his life, certainly his
The journey began with a small boy growing up in
Tramore, Waterford; serving Mass and helping in the family drapery
shop, yet somehow always feeling he didn't fit. "I wasn't born with a
stammer, but by the time I started school, it was there. I was dyslexic
and dyspraxic, both of which had huge repercussions in terms of my
self-esteem. The teacher would go round the class asking people to
read, and I would make a mess of it, because I couldn't see the words.
That kind of situation was torture. I was an anxious child, and I
over-compensated for my nerves by becoming an over-achiever."
early on, Ian seems to have established the pattern that would come to
dominate his life. He discovered he was good at running -- "I have no
hand-eye coordination, but with running, I was on my own, there was no
worrying about team mates or letting other people down" -- and that,
with meticulous determination,This is a really pretty round stonemosaic
votive that has been covered with vintage china . he could overcome
his limit-ations. He became self-reliant, driven and excessive.
"Everything I went to do, I did it too much. I over-did it. I developed
an addictive personality," he says now, somewhat wryly.
first, the combination proved successful. An honours degree in Trinity,
followed by a long stretch as buyer for Brown Thomas -- after the sad
failure of the family business, for which he still clearly blames
himself, despite acknowledging the difficult times that were Ireland in
the 1980s -- during which he helped to transform the fashion landscape
of the country. "This was pre-Riverdance," he tells me, still a little
wistful. "U2 had happened, Sinead was young, there was a great energy
is the only Wi-Fi based real time location system solution that
operates on any brand or generation of Wi-Fi network. I discovered the
glamour world, I would get together with friends, and we would party. I
was the first to bring Dolce and Gabbana into Ireland. I travelled
loads, to Milan, London, New York. I met Donna Karan with Barbra
Streisand. All of these things happened to me, and it was magical."
along with the magic came mess. "The other side of it was that alcohol
was everywhere, champagne was everywhere. And these led to glamour
drugs, and I went on that journey as well. I got very into that whole
scene. I was on a success spiral, but the old anxiety was always there.
To anaesthetise it, I discovered that if I had a G&T or a bottle
of wine, it quietened the anxiety down."
Into the heady mix
entered Karen Millen. "I had previously met her through Brown Thomas,
and we hit it off. In the early 2000s, she was looking for somebody in
Ireland to take on the franchise, and I said I'd like to. Karen was
then in an early part of her career, I was looking for a business of my
own." It was a marriage made in fashion heaven. The brand grew rapidly,
gaining droves of devoted followers as well as considerable profile,
and Ian, in response to the new demands of his career,Bathroom floortiles
at Great Prices from Topps Tiles. kicked the 'party drugs', as he
calls them. "I kicked them myself. It wasn't hard. But the alcohol I
never kicked. This country is awash with it anyway." Karen Millen sold
her business to Mosaic, and Ian became chairman of Mosaic Ireland. At
the time, it comprised Coast, Oasis, Warehouse and Whistles. It was a
long way from the challenges of growing up gay, dyslexic, with a
stammer, in 1980s Waterford. "Life was good," is how he puts it.
unknown to Ian, he was by then in the grip of an illness that would
cause him to collapse, without warning, at Georgina Ahern and Nicky
Byrne's wedding in the south of France. "I had gone from 12 and a half
stone to eight stone," he says now. "I was very sick, but I hadn't
realised." Treated by Dr Fiona Mulcahy and her "amazing" team at St
James's Hospital, he did a six-month course of chemotherapy to
stabilise his condition.
After his treatment, he encountered prescription drugs.Rubiks cubepuzzle.
"Xanax is hugely addictive, and I already have an addictive
personality. This led to a whole route of benzodiazepines, and I
quickly found myself completely hooked. I was taking a whole cocktail
of stuff. People would think I was drunk, but I wasn't, I'd just taken a
At this point, the story could so easily have tailed
off into the devastating cycles of recovery and relapse, in
ever-decreasing circles, that characterise so many addicts' lives.
Somehow, Ian has been spared that. Some inner grace forced him to
confront what was happening. "I had to put my hands up. I knew I needed
help. I said to my company, 'I need time off'." The admission was, he
says now, "a huge relief. I asked for help. I'd never asked for help
before, it was always my way or no way. But I had tried every which way
to get a grip on life, and I couldn't do it."