Interview with Celebrity Milliner Carolyn Unwin

Interview with Celebrity Milliner Carolyn Unwin

To celebrate Autumn racing season I have a fabulous interviewee on the blog today! Milliner Carolyn Unwin has designed and made hats for many international and local celebrities.

Some of her clients include Scary Spice Girl & X-Factor Judge, Mel B; Australia’s pop sweetheart Samantha Jade; Dancing with the Stars Host Edwina Bartholomew and 7 News presenter Melissa Doyle.

Carolyn also regularly contributes designer millinery to Channel Seven for their national racing broadcasts and celebrity functions.

Read her tips on choosing the right hat, staying chic on Race Day and A/W hat trends for 2015!

Interview with Celebrity Milliner Carolyn Unwin

Interview with Celebrity Milliner Carolyn Unwin

1. When did you realise you we’re destined to become a milliner?

My first foray into millinery was trying a weekend course at the St Martin’s Schools of Art & Design in London.  I realised that in my opinion a hat is the ultimate fashion accessory.

It’s instantly and far more transformational to the individual than a bag and far less painful than high heels.  And so, my brain began to fill up with a constant parade of hat and headpiece silhouettes and ideas that now, I try to bring to reality.

2. What is your favourite part of the job?

My latest baby is my ready-to-wear line of luxury straw hats.  I have started an online store and am really loving the interaction with customers as many times, we do a few emails before they purchase to work out the right everyday style for them.

Another favourite part of the job is getting the word out there, through social media.  I am becoming a complete Instagram junkie and it really is the amazing medium for showcasing your brand, connecting with the world of fashion and design and letting new inspiration hit you.

With regard to racewear hats, I really love buying beautiful supplies from the very best international suppliers in the world, thinking over the range of possibilities with those materials and then narrowing it down into design decisions.

Carolyn Unwin - Miss Kitt - $475Miss Kitt $475

3.Would you ever turn your hand to designing clothes?

I would love to and if my let that part of my brain boot up, then again there would be so many transformational possibilities.  There are so many clothes for bright young things, but I’m not one of those anymore.

I can still see big gaps in the market for sexy confident clothes or clothes with a design twist and beautiful detailing, that Mums and women over forty could feel gorgeous in everyday.

4. Tell us about the hat making process, how long does it take?

Each hat really is different.  I do a lot of one-off hats and headpieces where it varies a lot.  If you are designing, dying and blocking a fine couture Melbourne Cup racewear hat with feathers or hand-made silk flowers, you could easily spend 10 hours making the hat and getting a really couture finish.

There have been times when I have spent a whole week making a very complicated detailed piece, but not many people are prepared to pay for that!

If you are making a simple headpiece, then all up, you might spend only an hour, but often this time is spaced out over longer as stiffening treatments need time to really dry and firm up.

Saddle Up - $495

Saddle Up $495

5. What is your advice for choosing the right hat?

For an everyday hat, just go for something with a decent sized brim that is going to give you some sun protection.  All of my ready-to-wear hats have a brim size that is designed to offer this.

With regard to racewear hats and headpieces, just try on a lot.  f you are a larger lady, don’t go small and try to shy away from the whole thing.  Go for a larger hat yourself and I would encourage you to make a statement with something bold and assertive.

If you are smaller, go for something with height and lift.  If you are tall and slim, you can get away with anything.  I am also not a big fan of lines that draw the face down.  These get harder and harder to pull off as you pass twenty.

CU 3 Adieu  - docs (2)Adieu $140

6. How should you style your hair when wearing a hat?

If it’s an everyday hat, then obviously a hat can cope with your everyday style.  Up looks are very refined and elegant for the racetrack and would be advised if you are entering a fashions on the field event.

But it’s perfectly acceptable to wear medium-length hair loose to the races in Australia.  Just make sure it’s done well.  No unkempt or shaggy ends.  If your dye job is growing out, then hide it with a full hat.

Arachne - $285Arachne $285

7. What are the key hat trends and colours for A/W 2015

Black is a constant and suits all complexions.  Some women don’t like black next to their face, but I would say it will look so smart – you might just need to amp up your makeup a little.

I don’t think that the fedora trend is going to fade away soon and I always take one or two, stuffed with smalls in my suitcase on winter travels.  It is a brilliant way of dressing well and dressing up, when you can’t carry a lot of your usual wardrobe diversity

I particularly love single colour sculptural felt shapes on headbands.  Berry shades, red, chocolate, strong purple all look delicious for A/W.

Also headbands with metallic details or leather design elements and veiling headpieces that blend millinery with a bit of mask are really gorgeous and deeply sexy.

Adieu II - $215Adieu II $215

8. What are your Autumn Racing Essentials

Very predictably, a quality well-finished hat or headpiece.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but just make sure it’s holding it’s intended shape well and is in good condition.

Great heeled shoes or booties.  While closed toe shoes tend to be required for Fashions on the Field competitions, there are some very sexy open-toed shoes and boots around at the moment, that I think would work really well for autumn racing in Sydney.

A dress or skirt that hits the knee or lower and a smart jacket to pop on in case you get chilly; not a pashmina type wrap.

Jamais - $340Jamais $340

9. Who are your favourite Race Wear designers?

I really love colour and intricate prints, so Clover Canyon with their clean lines but vibrant digital prints is a particular favourite.  I also love the strong New York style of Milly and the classic-with-a-twist style of Robert Rodriguez.

On the Australian designer front, I love Aurelio Costarella, Asilio the label and; Aje – very different styles, but all start with an A and all so very beautiful!

??????????????????????Licorice $280

10. What are the top 5 items in your Race Day clutch?

Lippy, powder, iPhone, silicone foot or shoe strap cushioners from the chemist, big smile.

11. What is the worst fashion faux pas you have seen at the races?

Having too much to drink.  No matter what you are wearing, if you are falling all over the place, it’s not a good look.

Cocktail or evening wear dresses at the races! Too short, too tight, too revealing – take your pick.

12. What are your tips for staying chic on Race Day?

It’s an oldie, but a goodie – drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink that you have.  Keep your shoes on.  Stand up straight.  Smile for your adoring public.

There we have it ladies, some insider knowledge from one of Australia’s premiere milliners! Thanks Carolyn!

All hats in this post are stocked at Napoleon Perdis Life.Style at Shop 3 Knox St, Double Bay (Miss Kitt and Arachne are for private sale) .

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