Needless to say, we’re very impressed with Lyra’s long, purple, pointy-nailed gloves, which to everyone look like they belong in Cruella de Vil’s wardrobe.
It’s a relief, though, to know that the wearer of these gloves isn’t quite as menacing. In fact, Lyra is what one might safely call a down-to-earth sweetheart. We know because she’s halfway through her IMAGE photo shoot and has deliberately ditched an extravagant designer setup and slipped into a less restrictive sports top and sweatpants. For someone on the cusp of much greater things, you might imagine a few tunes and graces floating over her head, but the Cork woman (in the small town of Bandon she is known to many as by Laura McNamara) is fully aware that the only place fit for ego to shine is on stage.
While we’re on the subject of shining, Lyra has been tiptoeing around for several years, but it’s only been a few years since her obvious singing and performing talents were noticed. She released her debut single in 2016 and has since become part of the Irish music landscape while undertaking strategic endeavors internationally.
Now, after two years of you-know-what, Lyra is back with as much flair as her gloves. New songs are lined up, gigs are scheduled, and downtime is over in no time. For Lyra, all the systems are currently working, and you can feel that even sitting down between photography sessions can be seen by her as a break. “I’m not very good at breathing,” she admits. “I like to be busy all the time and I feel guilty if I don’t do something that will advance my career, so I try to do more.” She looks around, pointing to casually thrown designer outfits that she will later wear as a prom queen.
“Today I could have been quite happy with four looks for the shoot, but no, I had to bring 17!” That’s the thing with Lyra – when it comes to stage wear, there’s no understatement. Where, we ask, did her fashion sense come from? Some performers dress up, but she tends to do the exact opposite. “Oh, we’re very fashionable in Bandon, you know – me and Graham Norton, fancy dressers, like peas in a pod!”
When she was growing up, she recalls, she always wore hats and gloves to match her dresses. She enjoyed being very creative and “being out there a bit. As an artist, I think if I can’t push the limits a bit, then what’s the point? I play when I’m on stage and I want to feel like I’m playing. The outfits I wear make me feel like I’m having an incredible out-of-body experience. I love it – it gives me confidence and represents me as a person. Sometimes you listen to the songs, the music, but you don’t meet the person behind it. If I bring my fashion sensibility into the frame, then I feel like they become more of the real me, more of who I really am. Fashion, she notes with some authority, is an endless cycle of creativity, design and personal statement. “I love fashion so much. I spend a lot of time browsing the likes of vogue Track, checking which designers are emerging in the world. It’s definitely body art, and it opens my mind to how fashion can go so much further. She pauses for breath and looks down. “I said, sitting here with my fingernails stuck to my gloves!”
The impression one gets from Lyra and her passion for fashion is that she would trade a lot of things in her life for the holy grail of modeling: free designer clothes (or at the very least, temporary loans ). Pragmatism comes into play at this point in her career, she says, because it has to. “I’m not very well known at the moment,” she explains, “and some designers won’t lend me their designs for certain things, so if I really want a piece, I’ll save up for weeks and weeks. and buy it. However, some designers, especially the up-and-coming ones, are willing to lend me pieces. That’s how it goes, and my approach is that if I can’t get designers to work with me now, then when I’m a bigger name, I’ll come back to them. When I’m bigger, they’ll throw stuff at me – go ahead, I say, and save some money!
The irony is not lost on her. “I have to save and save to buy pieces from big designers, but when you’re a lot more famous and you have money, the designers give you clothes for free. How does that work?”
It’s a tough question to answer, but Lyra has the patience to wait for designers to start forming an orderly queue. She’s at the top of her game right now and as 2022 progresses she looks set to further cement her position not only as Ireland’s hottest singer but also as a friend and member of the faithful and loving family. “Even though I can’t be home as often as I would like, and the fact that I miss many of my friends, my family and the highlights of their lives, I will always try to make it up in some form or under another. Why? Because I feel like those are my priorities. If I suddenly become famous, I won’t start hanging out with celebrities.
Lyra shows off her fancy nails and shakes her head. “They won’t be my new best friends, it just won’t happen.”
LYRA PERFORMS AT THE FOLLOWING OUTDOOR FESTIVALS IN IRELAND THIS SUMMER: Kaleidoscope Festival, Russborough House, Co Wicklow, June 24-26. Indiependence, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, 29-31 July. Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Co Laois, 2-4 September. Lyra’s new single, “Edge of Seventeen”, starring John Gibbons, is out now and available on mainstream streaming platforms.
Styling by Lyra. Lyra photographed by Evan Doherty in May 2022, in Dublin, for IMAGE. Hairstyle by Katrina Kelly Makeup by Sandra Gillen. Filmed on location at The Chocolate Factory, Dublin. This article originally appeared in the summer issue of IMAGE magazine.