Interview: Corina Haywood

For Corina Haywood, millinery is not about following patterns and sticking to strict rules. It is about letting the materials guide you, sculpting them and creating free-form shapes that best utilise their unique qualities and making it a natural and organic process. Corina has been creating her own beautiful millinery since 2001 and her pieces can be found in stores from Japan to New York and have featured in numerous editorial shoots plus film and television productions over the years. Her hats are unapologetically simple, allowing her workmanship and the materials to speak for themselves.

What do you love most about Millinery?
I love how I can design and construct a hat in one process, by letting the materials guide me, I can be inspired in the moment without patterns. I love how the materials are forgiving, if I want to I can adapt the process and re-block a piece to the 'perfect' shape.

How did you get into Millinery?
I took a millinery survey course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY where we learned the basics of hat making and free form blocking in felt which I continued to experiment with and transfer to work in other materials.

How would you describe your designs?
My designs seek to balance classic styles with interesting shapes for a timeless quality that reflects my perspective on comfort, style and versatility.

What is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer wants to stand out, in an understated way, to have a hat that is one of a kind, yet classic with understated styling.

What inspires you?
The natural world and fashions from the past to the present inspire me equally.

If you could invite any milliner to tea?
If this question includes any milliner alive or dead I would choose Lily Dashe, because I admire her work and her drive, I think we might be kindred spirits. If this question only refers to living milliners I would choose Stephen Jones, because he seems like a delightful man and I would love to discuss the world of millinery with him.

What is your favourite material to work with?
This is a hard question, for felt, I would say sueded felt, for straw I like hand sculpting parisisal and for fascinators I love working with crinoline.

What's your best millinery tip?
I learned this from a friend and it is very simple, after you sew in a head ribbon by hand, spray it with water and put it on a block that is ever so slightly bigger than the block you used and the ribbon will shrink to lay flat and snug and any imperfections will disappear!

What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
Selling hats in Southern California where the weather does not dictate fashion seasons has been difficult, but with my new website and various sites that cater to small businesses, I hope to reach people beyond my area for sales.

Famous words to live by.
"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different" Coco Channel.

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Andrea Blohm

Congrats Corina! I hope to see you at the next MMU! xoxo

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