A few months ago I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and talk to the very talented millinery artist Andrea Tighe who is the talent behind Tí Tighe. We discussed everything from her amazing childhood learning from her amazing tailor parents to the exclusive news that she is launching Tí Tighe Designs at Ladies Day at the Galway Races this year.
Okay so let’s get started! Do you remember your first memory of fashion?
Oh my first memory of fashion – suppose at the very beginning my entire family are artists -the entire family! We’re all very creative people. My parents are tailors – so I would have grown up in a house where there was basically a studio and there would have been everything everywhere – fabrics, threads and ribbons – everything. It seemed so natural at the time – there are four of us – and we would have always put on shows. We tied ribbons and fabrics togeather to make capes – my poor youngest sister was subjected to all kinds of fabric cruelty 🙂 We would have always put on these “shows” and made our parents sit down and tormented them with our genius shows! So right from the get go we were immersed in design.
That’s amazing though – such a fantastic influence from early on
But we all thought it was so normal, you didn’t think oh other children had loads of toys – we play with material and lace. My dad would have made wedding dresses so we would have always played with the lace and the ribbons. I don’t know how there was so many ribbons but earliest childhood memories of fashion go way back playing with scraps of material.
That is so inspiring – that you were immersed in it straight away and see where you get it from
With my parents being tailors obviously had a huge influence. I don’t remember a time that I couldn’t sew. This is where Andrea gave me some amazing tips for the struggles that I am having with my own sewing at the moment – this woman knows so much about sewing and how to fix the issues that I was having!!
My children can sew. We make like little sock puppets or felt hand guys and they can sew the edges of them and buttons on for eyes and do different things like that. Lol they will grow up saying the same as I do now – that ‘they remember a time when I was five making sock puppets’! 🙂
When I was older, I designed my own debs dress with my dad, I remember going shopping with my mum into town and designed my own dress and that was long enough ago to not have been cool! That was when the brought stuff was cool – and even back then that didn’t bother me. I still wanted to make my own one. SO UNCOOL!! I’ll bet it was stunning though I did love it – I have gotten so much wear out of that debs dress and have worn it so many times.
Then same with my wedding – I made my own wedding dress. Oh I am very impressed!! Yeah I made it with my mum and dad. I designed it and they helped me make it. They are excellent tailors. I would be good but they would be excellent. They really helped me make my wedding dress and when I was bridesmaid for my sister – I designed and made that dress too. If I can make it – I will – I always have.
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What made you decide millinery over fashion design?
Well it’s funny actually I am about to launch my own fashion collection. I am going to incorporate it into my already existing site so this is a scoop! I am going to wait until the Summer as there is more general attention and bigger opportunities to launch myself at Ladies Day this Summer.
Oh that’s brilliant – that’s where you launched your hats in 2012! I want this to be the update a few years later. I want Ti Tighe Designs and I’ve already made my first designer dress and my best friend’s mother wore it to a black tie event in the Burlington Hotel! So that is actually the next step.
Millinery was a better launching point than fashion design for me. My passion is both – so there is not one over the other with regards choosing which I like more.
So can you tell us a bit about the new very exciting collection
My first collection is already in the works. I have two pieces made – the first collection will be five ballgowns, very much ballgown focused. That is what I will launch at the Galway Race. It is really exciting, and I cannot wait. It seems like an obvious progression so I am happy to be launching. You can post that in the run up I don’t mind at all – queue excited squeaks from me! 🙂
So back to Millinery – I didn’t grow up with hats, I do remember going to a friend’s wedding and thinking that I could make the hat – that I didn’t have to buy and I did.
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That is so fantastic, I always have to buy but would love to have the skill to make it myself
Well from that point of view – I guess I am quite lucky. Anything I make – from birthday cards to everything. So that is how I started making my own hat for a wedding. It is really good fun and I have met so many fabulous and amazing people over the last few years. And I have made so many lovely friends and that to me is worth more to me than anything. It’s lovely and it’s genuine and it means that world to me.
Do you remember the first hat that you designed?
Oh I do yes – that is the one that won an award. The Award that Brendan Courtney gave you? Yes girl – you certainly did your homework! 🙂 That was the the day I launched – Ladies Day in 2012. I put myself out there and I launched my business and that hat was the first hat that I designed – it was not the first one I made but my first creative piece. It had my signature spikes on it – it was the very first hat with that look on it.
So I wore that piece with my Valentino Dress 🙂 The red dress was just gorgeous and the piece was picked by Brendan Courtney for who wants to be a Milliner competition. So can you imagine my day when he picked me!! AMAZING. The best kickstart to my business on my first day out there – absolutely amazing, an unreal day.
So I won that part of competition at the Galway Races – there were 5 others in as well – for example from Galway, Fairyhouse, Punchestown, Ballinrobe and we all wen to Blossom Hill for the final! I was delighted to be there. There are photographs of me on Brendan Courtney’s page as the Galway winner then Lina Stein who as I am sure you are aware is a master milliner – so skilled and creative and just an absolutely amazing woman. And there were some comments about the hat side of my piece- they were kinda like that the hat is not a traditional hat so not millinery. So what I do is not considered traditional millinery.
What would be the difference between traditional millinery and what you create?
Well my hat is entirely made out of wire, so it wasn’t a blocked hat. It wasn’t made out of traditional millinery materials. It didn’t tick of all those boxes.
So there was this quite lengthily discussion on this Facebook page photograph and some of the comments were saying it was stunning but didn’t fit the category of being a hat or a millinery headpiece. After I don’t know 30-40 comments from all over the country and then Lina Stein wrote this absolutely fabulous comment about how this as a headpiece and absolutely does fall under the category of millinery and is exquisite. I was like OH MY GOD – it was amazing. I have since gotten to know her and we meet every year at the G Hotel after Ladies Day.
Absolutely fantastic to get such good press from the very beginning. Now I have to ask where do you get your inspiration from?
This is the hardest question to answer! Honestly, everywhere and nowhere – that is the truth. Sometimes I have an end in mind and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I may have an end in mind but then change it along the way.
The Fashion Innovation Award pieces were different. I specifically wanted 3 floral pieces the purple one is our agreed favourite! I wanted three giant flowers – they would be traditionally made and blocked. They were made with the traditional millinery fabrics as well.
Certainly you have such a creative flair – from your own signature pieces to traditionally made designs. My personal favourite is a spiked piece from the Galway Fashion Trail earlier this year!
Oh that is so funny that you mention that – I actually gave that away to a friend’s daughter! She wouldn’t know that I am friends with her dad, so she comes up to me Hi are you Andrea Tighe and she was like I really liked your pieces on the runway tonight and they were amazing. And I was like thank you – you are so sweet. She said she loved the piece I was wearing it was so cool. She was so sweet! So that was that and the next day then I popped it into a little gift bag and left it into her dad for her! She then called me that evening and loved it. Why wouldn’t I – I wouldn’t wear it again 🙂
Do you have any designers that you look up to yourself?
Oh I love fashion , I love clothes totally! Very cliched but I love Valentino – the classic. It’s just so luxurious and so amazing. If I was ever to get a job at a house that is where I would love to be. That would the dream – to design for a house like that. And remember when you design for a house you are still designing for a house as well – you are still the name behind it. It would be amazing.
Obviously Philip Tracey is so amazing – that is so abundantly clear. I would look at his work frequently as it is so amazing.
What is your favourite material to work with?
Silk! oh easily silk – it can be difficult to work with but I love it. The first ballgown I made is actually a stretch fabric as it is entirely covered in lace so needed some movement. Certainly the other gowns will have silk. Silk is just so lovely to touch and wear, you feel luxurious when you wear it. And I love silk wool. It is incredible.
Would you have any advice for up-coming milliners or indeed designers now I can say? Do you think you have to go to school to study it?
Well I am largely self taught, but my parents are tailors. I studied with Jamie and he would have taught me all of the basic skills for blocking and making blocks. He is incredible, he is also a creative milliner as well. He is actually a theater milliner so his pieces are very cool.
There is an element to it that teach yourself when it comes to ideas and creativity but I think you need someone to teach you the basic skills. There will always be the exception to the rule but I don’t think I would be where I am today without those skills. It was really helpful to have studied – you do need the basics to proceed.
Just go for it – it won’t happen by itself. You need to put in the hard work, wishful thinking will not get you there. I am very practical so if something needs to be done I will just do it.
Actually the best advice is to get to know people. Get to know the local people in the industry – they are the people that will help you.
Do you have a favourite part of your design day? That you enjoy the most.
I love those eureka moments when you have an idea and you know it is going to be cool! That is what I love. I had that moment the year before last with a piece. Again, it would not fall into the traditional millinery category as in not made from traditional material and blocked – it is made entirely out of copper wire and pearls. And it the piece that I wore to the Races two years ago, and it was in the TG4 series
What has been your proudest career moment to date?
Certainly winning the Ghaillimh le Gaeilge Award. My business is bi-lingual and that was important to me from the day go. I speak fluent Irish, my children speak fluent Irish – it’s part of me. The prize was amazing – it was with Snap Printing and I got a look book printed.
Well I was going to ask what the future holds – but well we know now! And it is so exciting 🙂
And you are the first person to know that!! A proper exclusive and it feels more real now that I have said it out loud.
And lastly, Barrys Tea or Lyons? And favourite dipping biscit?
Oh I am a tea addict! I drink way too much – not coffee. The chocolate chip biscuits with the chocolate coating on one side!! Delicious – you could have an entire packet with one cup of tea!!
A massive thank you to Andrea, I loved doing this interview and cannot wait to see the launch this week – so exciting!! Make sure that you follow her on her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!!
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!
Images from the Fashion Innovation Awards and image of Andrea kindly provided by Andrea.