haute so fabulous

Rebecca O'Byrne

Rio de Janeiro

TravelRebecca O'ByrneComment

Visiting new and foreign lands is one of my favourite ways to spend my life and in admitting my ignorance in knowing little to almost nothing of Brazil before landing there, I can't quite begin to describe just how fabulous our trip there was last year. 

There to attend one of my Love's best friend's wedding just north of Rio in Buzios, we decided to take a little longer in travelling to the other side of the world and added time on either end of the special occasion in order to explore this country so rich in culture, art and an altogether otherworldly authentic way of living that neither of us had ever quite experienced despite both of our insane weakness for travel.

First stop though was Rio. Gosh where to begin in attempting to narrate this somewhat cryptic city that even after spending a long weekend in we left with an overall sense of mystery that unless living as a local one might never quite gain a complete understanding of. Beyond beautiful in it's insanely unrefined yet splendid rawness, it's a definite mix of all sorts of contrasts and differences; darkness and light, poverty and wealth, beach-living and dangerous alleyways. With no doubt an endless array of things to do, people to meet and experiences that will live with you for life, it's full of wonders to explore and experience.

Today I'm thrilled to share with you all that we lived and loved and can most definitely say what brought to life this city as our home if even for use those three short days..


I love a good boutique hotel. Like Love with a capital L. And Mama Ruisa, our little sanctuary for those three precious nights, sure lived up to all my expectations as one of Rio's most stylish and personal stays. Set in a gated space in one of Rio's trendiest neighbourhoods, Santa Theresa, is the old and stately mansion that once played home to a wealthy Brazilian family and now to guests who wish to find themselves lost in a chic yet very authentic Brazilian experience. From it's stunning decor that brings a touch of French to a strong Brazilian foundation and vastly expansive rooms that make you feel like staying forever to waking each morning to a most magical view of the city from atop Santa Theresa as you have your breakfast on a private balcony and the utmost attentive staff who are there to help you with anything to do with your being in Rio, I cannot recommend this heavenly paradise more. 

Somewhere else to consider staying and one our next trip will definitely consist of a night or forever at is Hotel Saint Teresa. We spent two days chilling here, having lunch and generally just loving every moment in the chic surroundings of this precious place. Rustic yet perfectly polished it's so fabulous on every level and the kind of place that if you never left you'd live in heaven forever!



Unbeknownst to us, and frankly quite the shock, weather wasn't to be on our side during the trip - three days of sunshine out of 16. However, blessed with insane heat and clear blue skies one of the days, one of our favourite parts of Rio was definitely getting to see the city's gorgeous landscape from atop Sugarloaf Mountain. Leaving from Prais Vermelha, a cable car takes you on the first leg of the journey stopping at Urca Mountain (220 meters above sea level). Here you can't help but bow to the breathtaking, 360degree views of the city. Keep going though because even these are nothing to the those that meet you when you reach Sugarloaf Mountain itself, after taking another cable car to the sister mountain sitting right beside it. Towering at 396 meters over sea level you can really see the city in all it's glory, a perfect view of all that rests below including Copacabana Beach, The Christ, Guanabara Bay and the picturesque blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Allotting an entire morning or afternoon, or day even if you have it to sit and read and take photos, is essential to this activity and something that are we to ever return to Rio we shall most definitely be doing again. Next time at sunset which is supposedly so so magical. 

To feel at home in a city hanging out in a beautiful park is a must for me to know I've truly spent enough time to feel and truly observe the essence of native life. Our Sunday afternoon spent at Parque Lage was that and so much more. Also known as the Taj Mahal of Rio, Parque Lage is like a postcard you step into and never want to leave and one that despite the likes of Snoop, Pharrell and the Black Eyed Peas having shot some of their biggest music videos there, seems to be overshadowed in travel guides by it's nearby sister park, the Botonical Gardens. The mansion that resides at Parque Lage used to be a private home and is now an art school where exhibitions of all kinds are held.

As people watching is one of our guilty pleasures in life and after a cocktail in the mansions cafe, my Love and I blissed out and spent an entire afternoon hanging out here soaking up the most exquisite scenes that are bound to set your heart alight. The gardens are simply divine, not to mention the amazing sounds of the birds and monkeys that all call it home. Funnily enough too, it was all after a (rather disappointingly clouded) journey up to the see Christ the Redeemer who it turns out overlooks the beautiful scene of Parque Lage below.. although on this cloudy day we still couldn't see him from here either. 



Before we left on our travels, I was honestly a little naive to the dangerous side of Rio. I lived in South Africa for a year when I was just 18 and even then I was a little unaware of being an outsider in such foreign lands. As part of my traveller self though I like that, to go somewhere with an open mind and not let a preconceived judgement determine my experience. I mean I knew on a subconscious level that it's not exactly Disneyland but quite frankly, despite the beauty, I was to learn of just how dangerous a city it is. Paul wouldn't let me watch 'City of God' - the infamous movie about Rio's most notorious favela - before leaving (not to mention us embarking on a walking tour of one of the other favelas during our stay) and thank goodness he was so wise. It's INSANE. I like to pride myself on being a slight badass when it comes to facing real-life situations in the face and in my naivety, off we went with two of our divine friends who were in the city and spent an afternoon on a walking tour of one of the city's largest shanty towns. 

Our tour guide was incredible and if you are to one day experience Rio in it's rawest form, there's nobody like him to show you around. He brought us through what is something only your wildest imagination could conjure up. Unlike the townships of Cape Town and the one I worked in in Plettenberg Bay during my time in South Africa, the buildings are of concrete structure and are stronger than most in standing up to the harsh weathers that tear other shanty towns apart around the world. Built on top of each other with literally just enough space to walk between each building, the favela sprawls over miles of acres and is home to some several million people who work here, rear their families and build their daily lives. Our tour guide informed us of how built up it has become and in the past 10 years how much safer it's streets have become in a transformation that has seen drug wars lessened, police enforcement implemented, and the quality of life risen beyond measure for those who call it home. They now even have satellite TV and WiFi - within reason. To us though, it was insane - a world that seems so far from our norm and yet one that once inside you're captivated by it's intensity and almost movie like reality. We learned of how just 10 years ago there is no way even the police would enter, not to mention a white foreigner. Kids running around with machine guns and drug lords killing the next target on their never-ending list of customers in need of their next fix. Life had absolutely no meaning it would seem and those who entered did so at the risk of loosing their life. 

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I loved it. However I'm not going to lie, we most definitely had a feeling that we were encroaching upon territory that was not ours and although some of the locals see it that we bringing awareness to the situation and also a certain amount of business, it still felt somewhat wrong to be there as a tourist. The scariest part, and the moment in which I realise was most real having since seen "City of God" was when two boys, no more than 12 years old, passed us with guns in their hands. Casually speaking, I got lost in the moment thinking perhaps it was just part of a movie. But sadly no, crime and mortality is still very much part of reality in the favelas in Rio. 


Eat & Drink

As we were only there for a short time, restaurants and cocktails weren't our main priority - we just wanted to experience as much as possible. Although having said that, we gave it our best shot. Again, as major sushi lovers we had a divine fix of our favoured cuisine at Yumê which is so much fun. With an aquarium floor upon which you sit to enjoy your evening it's such a beautiful spot for couples. And for a drink before or after, Sobe, located right next door is so cool. The cocktail list is extensive and super tempting, especially as you sit outside under the nights stars. 

As I already mentioned, drinks and a late lunch at Parque Lage are the ultimate way to spend any liquid-y lunch and dining at the stunning Térèze at Hotel Saint Teresa is sheer luxury of the chicest kind. Not to mention somewhere to chill by the pool with a cocktail or coffee after. 

Somewhere to delve into the true Brazilian foodie experience is Porcāo Rios, the city's infamous all-you-can-eat meat restaurant. Whether you do the buffet style serving and control your own portions or go all out with the table service - the waiters continue to bring food after food to the table until you flip the coloured pig on the tablet to red, you're sure to get a real Brazilian dinner affair. 

Another place we adored - in all that sparkles on one of the most beautiful date nights ever, was AprazívelHere you will fall head-over-heels in love with Rio by night. The views of the city are breathtaking and take you away from the world. Dinner here is a treat and something to cherish for a night of celebrations. Make sure that when reserving you ask for a table outside wth the view the restaurant is famous for. 


All in all our first time in Rio was beyond amazing. Weather might not have shown up but despite that, to experience people, places and things so new to us was enthralling far beyond anything a day laying on Copacabana Beach would've allowed. Although visiting it is a must if you've come this far, no matter the weather..


Shop Your Rio Style

Love R x

Louise Roe Interview

LifeRebecca O'Byrne1 Comment

I am super-duper excited to start my brand new interview series here on Haute So Fabulous. I've forever been inspired by the study of prolific people and fascinated by how people make it in life. I find that no matter ones circumstances, career choices, family situation, location, success or anything else we 'judge' each other by, people are people and I love getting an insight into their thoughts and inspirations, what makes them tick and in essence what their take on the world around them is. It takes away the illusion of hierarchy. We can only live our own lives but it's so motivating and encouraging to gain another perspective and as we move forward on this Haute So Fabulous journey together I'm insanely excited to share with you some incredible people and their tales of successes through all the ups and down and the true living of and facing up to their challenges and triumphs!

First up is the incredible Louise Roe whom I had the privilege of interviewing recently. We were at Kildare Village in celebration of their SS17 collections which are so heartbreakingly stunning. You might have seen on my Snapchat and Instagram the lust worthy Versace white tailored suit and the beautiful pieces from Louise Kennedy that I adore, one such jacket is the beautiful cape Louise wears in these images. Things are being pared back this season and I'm so glad emphasis is being put back on investment pieces again. I'll be back in Kildare Village again soon so keep an eye out.. 

Getting to meet Louise was such a privilege, Louise is a world-famous blogger, author, presenter, woman's rights ambassador and behind all her successes and incredible victories to date, is one of the sweetest and most sincere people I've met to date. In a world where notions fly freely Louise is devoid of any airs or graces, her presence in person is sincerely endearing and she is exactly the cool, intelligent, fun and interesting person I imagined her to be.. 

I understand you studied English Literature in Durham as an undergrad at university, how did you then come to decide to work in fashion and how did that process occur?

Well I always loved fashion but I loved writing the most. My Dad is a travel journalist and his advise was always to get an academic degree, do history, do geography, do english, something and so as I always loved english it was a no-brainer for me. It wasn't like I suddenly finished college and found a brand new love with fashion, it was always part of the plan. I just wanted to get a degree in English Literature because I always loved english. Then I went to Elle Magazine and started writing in the features department and I got really bedazzled by all these beautiful shoes walking into the office everyday and wondered if I could combine writing with my obsession with fashion. And well, it turns out you can..

Yes it would appear so, and from your work Louise, very well.. Ok so, having worked in both print and online, where do you see the industry heading? In terms of so many brands turning more and more to digital the industry is changing dramatically and at such a fast pace, what are your thoughts?

It's an interesting question because like you, I love to open a magazine, it's such a different experience than clicking on a phone - or even an iPad - it's just a way of taking in information and I think editorial shoots are much more beautiful on paper. There are some magazines I hope will never go away like Vogue, W, I.D. As you know though Instyle print version closed at the end of last year and I was quite shocked actually. I don't think it'll be the last though and it's interesting to see the industry constantly change but I think you've just got to constantly choose to move with it and enjoy it and always be open to new things. It's about not being a stickler and embracing the changes.

Your Dad is a travel journalist, did you get to travel with him as a kid and what are your fondest memories of those time?

Yeah gosh cool question. I was so lucky as a kid and I had no understanding of it at the time. I remember we went to Jamaica during a school half-term and one of my girlfriends at the time was like "I don't believe you, don't be ridiculous you're definitely not going to Jamaica tomorrow.." and I was like yeah I really am. Seriously though I was so blessed and some of my favourites trips which I still love with my family today are when we go skiing together, not just because being in the mountains is so breathtaking but it's such a bonding time with your family. My Dad taught me to ski during those first times, my Mum was there too and those kinds of memories are forever precious. 

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date, career wise?

Writing a book. It was always an ambition and to hold that very first copy in my hands was a really cool moment. It took a lot of time, energy  and work, not to mention late nights. In America when I get interviewed about it, people ask me a lot whether I had a ghost writer and I'm like noooo, God of course not, I wrote every word. I’d never want someone else putting words to my mind.

On the topic of writing a book. It is in fact one of my own greatest dreams and ambitions. Do you have any tips for taking on such large projects?

Yes I have actually. Just start it. It's a very overwhelming thing to take on. You think “oh my GOD I’m about to write my book”.. but you’re not, you’ve got to break it down and make notes, starting with your proposal to your publisher. This has to be quite lengthy to get all the structure done and by the time you actually start it you’ve done all the leg work. And I used to keep this drawer, I still do for my next book in fact, full of ripped out bits from magazines and books full of thoughts, inspirations and all sorts of stuff so I have something too start with. From there you have great ideas to springboard off. 

What has been your greatest challenge to date and how have you dealt with it?

Well I find LA is great but living away from my family and friends - of course my husband is with me in LA - is perhaps the biggest thing I face. I am very very close to my family so I feel real torn and so do a lot of my friends who live in LA too. It's such a long distance to get home, it’s an eleven-hour plane ride so that’s a big challenge. I deal with it by trying to get home as often as I can and work trips even like this one I stay with my sister. You’ve just got to make the most of it and put the effort in to keeping touch with people. Modern technology makes that super easy though really. 

Is there any one in the industry that in your opinion we should have our eyes on as someone up-and-coming?

Great question. I’d say Jen Atkin for hair. She’s incredible and in fact she’s not even up-and-coming, she’s already doing really well but she’s someone I met even before I moved to LA and she took me under her wing and has not changed a bit, she’s so down-to-earth, so kind and caring. In terms of a style icon, I’d say Ruth Negga. She did so well at awards season this year and she’s just got it. You can tell when someone is being styled or has an eye themselves. She’s definitely got it. 

Do you have a mentor and if so what have been the top three pieces of advice they’ve given you in life?

Lots of people have definitely been mentors to me. One person who sticks in my memory and we’re still close, is Tasmina Perry - she’s actually a really famous novelist now but when I first met her she was deputy-editor of Instil Magazine. She gave me my first paid job and she’s just always pushing me and questioning me in all the right ways, getting my creative juices flowing and makes me feel like I can do more. Specific advice? Tasmina encouraged me to write my first book and she wants me to write a novel one day. She’s always encouraged me to network and taught me of the importance in always following up when you meet someone and getting their information. You don’t leave loose ends untied; you never know where those people could lead you to..

With all it’s pros and cons, social media these days can at times be a real pressure, the weight of having to constantly depict the picture-perfect life. Do you feel these pressures and how do you deal with them?

It's definitely a funny one. People always joke, “oh you’re not going to put the moment you’re really hungover or feeling awful up” and that is true but you might put it on InstaStory cause that’s a nice outlet for people to see the real you and when you’re messing around, it enables people to see your fun side too and see that you’re not just sitting pretty all day. But do I want to create beautiful images? well yes absolutely I do and with it I aim to give back in the best way possible with tutorials and tips - there is always a takeaway for people who read my blog, something they can put to action themselves and not just a pretty picture to look at. There is definitely a pressure but I am so lucky that I love what I do and that this is actually my job now. 

If you were to go and tell your younger self what not to do, what would that be and on that topic, do you have any advice for young girls coming through their teenager years and into their 20's? 

I feel like 80% of my career is giving advice to those young girls. When I hosted Plain Jane I didn’t realise the huge impact of it (actually fingers crossed we’re going to bring it actually which would be amazing). Women are all very different but the message on confidence is the same really and spending a week with each girl was one of the most powerful things I’ve done in terms of helping young women. It’s far deeper than just saying ’oh be more confident and believe in yourself’, everyone gets to that solid point in themselves in their own way. 

If I could go back though ummm.. well I mean I’m still a worrier and always worry about everything so I think I’d say to chill out and stop worrying, it’s never going to be as bad as you think at the time. I got bullied in High School pretty badly and only when I did Plain Jane did I realise there is a silver lining to times like that cause I could really help those girls from genuine experience - obviously it wasn’t a nice time for me but if I didn’t go through that I wouldn’t be able to give the advice in the same way. 

How do you balance work with personal life? Especially with social media being so demanding and instant..

I definitely don’t have it down fully and because Mackenzie and I work together a lot which is so great but it also means you don’t stop talking about it all or completely switch off so sometimes we just say ‘ok enough is enough’. I take personal time and do things for myself that I find relaxing, like a massage or a facial - things that are good for mind and body; I definitely love working out too, that’s one that is definitely about mind and not just body. A nice glass of wine is also always a good way to forget about work.. (giggles).

In building your own brand do you have a moral code that you you adhere to in terms of brands you will and will not work with?

I love that - moral code. That’s exactly what it is. Yes I do and it’s definitely not just with brands but also the things I say and the way I shoot. Each to their own of course and no judgement but you do get shocked by how sexual young girls are getting on Instagram and other social media platforms.. they’re like 16 and it’s dangerous. I’m very very conscious of the young women that follow me and to be called a role model is the biggest honour and responsibility so I’ll always be myself but I want to feel proud of the message I’m putting out there. It definitely relates to brands too - it has to work with my aesthetics and always has to feel right. Otherwise it’s forced and not authentic. 

I am in LA later this month, what are your favourite LA experiences?

Oh exciting. You should definitely go to dinner at a place called Eveleigh - it’s got a great atmosphere, amazing bar, a really interesting menu if you’re a foodie and great views if you’re outside. I’d go get a drink at the Sunset Tower Hotel cause it’s just so legendary and so many Hollywood stars have been there. It's super corny but I’d even go on the Hollywood bus tour, they are so hideous but so amazing and they’re ALL wrong but you see amazing back routes and secret house that look like castles - you’ve got to do that. You should definitely do the hike to the Hollywood sign too, that’s an absolute must! And of course Melrose Place, you’ve got to do Melrose Place - it’s very LA.

..And some quickies if you will..

Your favourite everyday outfit?

At the moment I’m loving high-waisted cropped jeans with a vintage t-shirt and a loafer or a slide.

Do you have a morning routine?

No and I love that, I really don’t have any routine because everyday is so different. I could be on plane or at an early shoot. One thing that happens everyday though no matter where I am is my English Tea, I must have that.

Your go-to nail colour?

‘Big Apple Red’ by OPI - I love a good red.

Your favourite food?

I love Mexican.. with a good margarita. 

Thanks so Louise for taking the time to share her thoughts on life with us and to Kildare Village for creating this wonderful opportunity..net

Love R x