Holly Carpenter: 'I may be on my own, but I'm glad to still be young enough to enjoy the single life'
Romantically this former beauty queen is flying solo and busy gearing up for the year of her life, says Joanna Kiernan
You learn a lot about yourself when you are single," Holly Carpenter explains as we enjoy tea in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen's Green.
It is a sunny but cool October afternoon and Holly arrives wrapped in a stylish scarf over a black T-shirt and jeans. She is casual, yet manages to look effortlessly chic. Heads strain to watch her pass by.
Holly has been through a lot this past summer. In July, the former Miss Ireland and successful Irish model split from her boyfriend of two years, Irish Rugby International Cian Healy.
"I have become a lot more independent already. There are pros and cons obviously, but I always try to look on the bright side," she smiles.
"It's just a big change for me and I'm sure it is for him too. You go from being in such a serious relationship to then being on your own, but because I am only young all my best friends are single too, so that is really nice."
Going through a break-up, I suggest, is a difficult enough thing to do when no one is interested in your heartache, never mind doing it when both parties are in the public eye.
"It was tough," Holly agrees. "I think I got about three weeks where no one knew, so that was important. I was trying to stretch that as far as I could, just to try and process it all myself first.
"All my friends loved Cian and I'd say they hated to see me going through anything like that, but at the same time I'd say there is a part of them that is happy to have me single too. It is good to go through it at this age," she adds.
The last few months have certainly been a time of flux for Holly, who also changed modelling agencies - moving from the Andrea Roche Modelling Agency to Assets - but she is excited about the future.
"It's been a great move career-wise, I'm really happy," Holly tells me.
"I didn't leave [Andrea Roche Modelling Agency] with any bad blood, it's just sometimes you look at what you are doing and want to try something new. "
Holly has been giving lot of thought to her career of late. She has always been artistic and was enrolled in a degree in Textiles in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, before her Miss Ireland tiara came knocking in 2011. She hopes to return to the area at some point.
"I really miss the creative side of things, designing and stuff like that. It's always in the back of my mind," Holly says.
"At the moment because I'm working full time as a model it's just a hobby, but I still paint and design. In the bigger picture that's something that will definitely be a part of my life. I'd like to have a jewellery line or a lingerie line."
Holly turns 23 tomorrow, but for today she is still clinging on to being 22. The ageing process, she admits, is starting to get to her.
"Time is flying. It's freaking me out that I'm turning 23," she laughs, as a little part of this 29-year-old quietly dies inside.
"I'm still at the stage where I want to have fun and I want to see the world while I'm not tied down career-wise and I have no husband and kids or anything.
"I'm able to be selfish still. There are so many places I want to go and so much I want to do, but for now I want to work my ass off firstly because I enjoy it and then because I want the money to be able to be independent and do whatever I want."
Inspired by her best friend Jess, who recently moved to Dubai, Holly has decided to follow her dreams and travel to London at the end of this month to explore her options.
"I am just going to go over with a really open mind and see what I can do," she explains. "I have a lot of connections over there; I am still in contact with a lot of the producers from Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model and I have family over there too.
"In terms of modelling I wouldn't be 'high fashion' enough for London, but I think I could get with a commercial agency," Holly adds. "I'm just going over for a few weeks to see what happens."
If the London recce trip goes to plan, Holly hopes to move there in January.
"I want 2015 to be a big year for me. So I want to start meeting the right people for that now," she beams.
As well as modelling, Holly plans to explore the acting world.
"I am really interested in acting, but I feel like whenever a model says they want to be anything outside modelling, people don't take them seriously. So I don't really like saying it usually. I am just so hungry to get away and explore," she tells me.
In her own words Holly is currently 'paring back' her image and going for the less is more look.
The hair extensio ns are gone, the eyelashes are her own - though still long and enviable - and her clothes are smart and comfortable.
"I wanted a change, especially if I'm going to London," she explains. "I love the modelling scene here, but I do think that maybe that whole glamorous look is on its way out."
Size is also a huge issue in the UK modelling scene.
"I would be worried that I'd go over and they'd say that even for commercial I'm not thin enough because it's mental the size that they expect you to be," Holly says.
However, she has no intentions of becoming a part of the 'size zero' brigade.
"If someone said to me 'if you get down to a size zero you'll be the face of anything brand you want or walk in any show', I still wouldn't be able to do it," she says plainly.
"Physically I would probably be able to do it, but I wouldn't feel sexy because my bones would be sticking out and I wouldn't have the energy to do anything fun or go out for dinner or cocktails or coffee even."
Holly has a thick skin. During her time on the Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model TV competition, she had to become accustomed to dealing with online trolls.
"I just block people on Twitter if they do it, because they want the reaction and I do have a short fuse," she grins.
"So if I feel like I'm going to lose my shit with them I just block them and breathe! Even when me and Cian broke up I put up a picture of cupcakes on Instagram, which my parents got in Howth Market, and some girl said 'Oh are you sitting in bed crying and eating cupcakes because you're broken up from your boyfriend?'"
Thankfully Holly has more online admirers, including the US playboy and poker player Dan Bilzerian, who recently invited her to meet him.
"I was already following him and he followed me one night on Twitter. So I sent him a direct message because me and the girls were really hung-over and we thought it would be funny," Holly explains.
"He said something about me coming to LA and I said 'I like your beard!' and then he sent me his number. My new thing is beards. I just love guys with beards, but no! He is too much," Holly laughs. "Imagine bringing him home to your mum?"