Carol Kennelly is an Award winning milliner who makes some of the most beautiful works of art. Earlier this year among other accomplishment she won Irish Milliner of the Year for 2016 at KFW Irish Fashion Industry Awards. Her creations are simply stunning and I am delighted to be featuring an interview with her today on Floralesque.
Have you always had an interest in Design?
I have always admired the beauty and practicality of great design. My backround isn’t in design. I studies Hotel Management in college, but even in that role I always found myself drawn to the design side of that job. I would love being involved in hotel renovations and decor decisions, choosing employee uniforms and creating large floral displays.
Can you please tell us a little about your path into Millinery?
My hobby was attending Best Dressed Lady competitions at the Horse Races with my friends. I noticed quickly that a beautiful unique hat was what set a lady apart from her competition. I found it very difficult to source the sort of hat I wanted at that time, so I decided to use my creativity and try making my own. Soon after I won two big competitions wearing my own designs. I invested my prize money in doing a millinery course, and two years later I decided to turn my hobby into my full time career.
Millinery is such an interesting field with so many different textiles at your fingertips. What is your favourite material to work with?
I love working with pearls as they are so elegant and timeless. I also love beadwork and jewels as I am a total magpie! I’m drawn to the sparkle.
Your creations are just stunning and so unique. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I try whenever possible to source my inspiration from outside the world of fashion. Obviously inspiration is everywhere, especially in nature, but right now I love watching creative confectionery TV shows. Many of the elements and features in their dramatic cakes can be borrowed and tweaked to make unique headpieces.
I love your dramatic work with butterflies and flowers. Do you prefer working on larger pieces like these or smaller fascinator styles?
It depends on my mood in the day. Some days I feel the urge to make something small detailed and meticulous, I find the repetition of hours of beadwork calming. Other days then I am bursting to make something dramatic that can be seen from space!
Although I am sure hard to choose – what is the favourite part of your day?
The quiet time when it is just me, my raw materials and my imagination
Congratulations on winning the Kerry Fashion Week Irish Milliner of the Year Award 2016. I think that events like these Awards and the Fashion Innovation Awards are so important to help highlight the amazing Irish Talent that is out there. Do you think that we are doing enough to promote Irish Design?
Kerry Fashion Week is an amazing platform, and such a well run event that is deservedly growing from strength to strength. Showing my new collection there every March is one of the highlights of my year.
I do believe the government should be doing a lot more to support Irish design and small businesses in general. These are the people who have used their own initiative to make a job for themselves. Entrepreneurial spirit should be rewarded.
Who are your favourite designers of the moment?
Obviously Philip Treacy for hats, but I love the detailed beadwork in Zuhair Murad, the femininity for Elie Saab, and the timeless elegance of Dior and Chanel.
Would you have any advice for those looking to start a career in millinery?
Unless you have something new to bring to the party, don’t bother. There are too many “designers” who don’t seem to understand the ethical issues with plagiarism.
What does the future hold for Carol Kennelly Millinery?
I’m not sure, obviously I have plans and dreams as to the direction I would like my business to go in. I hope that in the future I will still love my job as much as I do right now.
A massive thank you to Carol for being featured on Floralesque – her pieces are beautiful works of art and I hope that you love her creations as much as I do. You can check our more of Carol’s work by checking out her website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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!
All images kindly provided for use by Carol.