Wendy Louise is an amazing Milliner and I love her vibrant, and eye catching works of art. She creates the most beautifully finished pieces that it is no wonder that she is a finalist in the 2018 Irish Fashion Innovation Awards.
Wendy is a long established milliner and this shows true in her work. She specialises in one-off, hand-crafted designs ranging from theatrical large-brimmed show-stoppers, in a range of fabrics embellished with beads and veiling, to the more subtle styles such as cloches, pillboxes, trilbies and fedoras. What I in particular love is the kaleidoscope of colours that she uses in her works of art and that you can help but smile when you see them. We are thrilled to be featuring her today on Floralesque.
Have you always had an eye for design?
Yes I got my first sewing machine at 11 and used to make myself clothes all the time. I always wanted to be a potter though…
Can you please tell us a little about your path into Millinery? I understand that your grandparents were also milliners?
I studied ceramics and art at A level and Photography at college; then worked in retail for The Body Shop and Karen Millen when moving to Ireland I saw a opening for Millinery. You guys in Ireland sure like to dress up, but I have always had a passion for hats. My grandparents had a hat factory in Luton and my Great-Uncle was a hat block maker… I went about researching and self teaching my Millinery skills taking hats apart and experimenting with fabrics etc.. As I had very young children at the time I could not attend a full time course but learned from Aileen Cogan who used to teach at the Grafton Academy, she taught me bespoke Millinery using only traditional techniques which I still use today. I am trying to keep the skill alive.
What was the first hat you ever created and how do you feel about it now?
I was about ten and made a straw hat covered to flowers for a old time music hall event . Little did I know I would make a career from it then! But when I first made a felt hat I used a vintage block a high sided beret block I still wear it now and still love it.
I love the different styles of millinery pieces that you create, is there a particular style that you enjoy making the most?
Yes, the various types of pill box shapes I use lots of vintage blocks and then work there shapes for the times of today.
There are so many different textiles used in your work, what is your favourite material to work with?
I adore working with peach-bloom felt . I love the colours and textures you have to be firm yet gentle at the same time when working with it while being careful not to over steam or stiffen it to achieve the soft and seamless finish
Would you have any tips for those hoping to start a career in millinery – something that someone had said to you when you were starting out?
Oh gosh, it’s very expensive to start out in as you need to invest in fabrics and blocks. I think also find your own style, and concentrate on the finish.
Although I am sure it will be hard to choose, but what has been your brand highlight or moment that made you stop and say woah with the brand to date?
i recently took part in the art of millinery afternoon tea at the Westbury hotel . The pastry chef created a cake of each hat and served as afternoon tea my jasper blue felt hat was interpreted as a amazing blueberry cheesecake desert . It was a great honour.
Where would you like to see the brand going in the next five years?
I would love to solely concentrate on my felt hat range and would love to export my work.
Do you have any tips for customers trying to find the perfect hat?
Yes, try on lots of styles and remember if you feel like you have nothing on your head and you are at ease wearing it …that’s the hat for you. You should wear the hat not the other way around
And lastly a very important question…. Lyons or Barrys tea? And favourite dipping biscuit?
Barry’s…. and nice biscuit…. Or a ginger nut….
Thank you so much to Wendy for doing the interview, it was great learning about her path into the millinery world. I would highly recommend taking a look at Wendy Louise’s website as it showcases her beautiful work, and she is also on Facebook and Instagram. I am really looking forward to seeing her pieces on the catwalk at the Irish Innovation Fashion Awards in March this year, and wish her the very best of luck!
All images kindly provided for use.
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!