Actress and model Amber Jean Rowan, former contestant of RTÉ's The Model Agent, has been living with alopecia since age 15.
For anyone, let alone a self-conscious teen of 15, an alopecia diagnosis would serve as a devastating blow. For an aspiring model and working actress, it could have called time on her career. However, for Clontarf-born Amber Jean Rowan (who you may remember from RTÉ's OG model show, The Model Agent) it was to be the making of her.
Some eleven years later, Rowan has embraced her hair-free-life going wig free – and demonstrating her fashion prowess – in this exclusive Irish Tatler shoot, and opening up about the condition that has seen her lose her hair.
Indeed, when Rowan speaks about the condition she has had since a diagnosis at age 15, she displays a wisdom that belies her short time on this planet.
“People constantly ask me what it’s like to have alopecia, but I actually can’t remember what it’s like to have hair,” she tells Irish Tatler's Fashion Editor Sarah Macken in an exclusive interview. Being completely bald since the age of 17, it’s been the norm for a long time for the now 26-year-old Irish model.
She credits having a good modelling agency for always having positive experiences in the fashion industry. However, self acceptance is an ever-evolving journey.
“Chatting away to the hair stylist [on a shoot] I would be totally comfortable. But if they were to say, ‘Oooh we’ll do a shot without your wig’. I would have said, ‘Not in a million years’. My confidence wasn’t there, I wasn’t ready to embrace that side…I didn’t think it was beautiful.”
In her personal life, Rowan has found helping others cathartic too. Hence, Hair Free Life, her website that aims to be a source of education, inspiration and information for the hair free community which has just launched.
“Over the past 10 years of modelling and acting I’ve had women, and men, come to me either via social media or through my agent, asking me the same kind of questions: Where do I get my hair pieces from? What makeup do I use? How do I deal with it?”
Speaking about fashion's current grá for embracing diversity, Rowan is upbeat about the industry's ability to effect change: "Hopefully we'll look back and celebrate now as a time when people's ideas were really changing."
Visit Hairfree.life for more.
To read the full interview and see the full shoot pick up the March (Volume 2) issue of Irish Tatler, on sale Tuesday 5 February.
INTERVIEW by Sarah Macken; PHOTOGRAPHY by Louise Samuelsen; STYLING by Aisling Farinella; MAKEUP by Searon McGrattan on behalf of Lancome Paris; NAILS by Pamela Laird using Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Frenzy; PHOTOGRAPHER ASSISTED by Andrew Rankin; STYLIST ASSISTED byLily Conyngham and Ailbhe Conboy