Marge Illane Interview

For Marge Illane, coming from the small country of Estonia has had its many challenges, however nothing has been able to deter her creative desires and passion for making something out of nothing and using unusual and unconventional materials. As you can see, Marge loves to challenge the norm and she has used her innovative millinery skills by incorporating cork "leather" into a hat. By Lasercutting the cork and incorporating it into the design of a sinamay hat, she has managed to transform a traditional style of hat into a unique, modern work of art. By thinking outside of the box she is able to constantly rethink and rework traditional ways of doing things and giver her designs a truely unique twist. Marge is excited by the possibilities posed by using modern technologies and unusual materials including, 3D printing, laser cutting, vinyl and acrylic. Read on about Marge's life as a milliner in Estonia. 

What do you love most about Millinery?
I love the materials that can be used, I love the sculpural shapes of hats and fascinators and I love that it gives more freedom than sewing and its not that accurate. I also love my happy customers sending me their feedback and pictures when wearing my pieces.
How did you get into Millinery?
Various crafts like sewing, knitting, crocheting, wet-felting have been my hobbies and huge passion since I was a small girl. When I was a young girl our country was part of Soviet Union and there was not much to buy from the shops. So if you wanted to be dressed fashionably you had to be smart and think about what could be used for making the items
for yourself. We got some fashion magazines from Finland and there we saw what was hot in the western-world and of course we had to think, how we can make something similar for ourselves. I remember, that my mother got very angry at me, when she found out that I had made for myself and my friends some trendy, long earrings from the blinds
she had. She would often find that I had used our bed linen for making skirts and trousers.

But coming back to millinery, I think it happened just mainly out of curiosity. I studied english language in high school and I admired the style of Queens Elizabeth II wearing beautiful hats. In my mid-thirties when internet was developing quickly, I started to search where I could try to learn to make these kinds of hats. In our region (The Baltic States) ladies used to wear felt hats in the past, but how to make hats from lighter fabrics (sinamay, parasisal etc) was unknown
here. So I was probably the first estonian woman to get into this subject.
How you would describe your designs.
Honestly, as I sell mostly online, I do not make as many exclusive hats and fascinators, I try to do more simple, designs that people can afford and can quickly be produced. I would LOVE to make more exclusive and technically challenging, artistic hats but then I would need to run an atelier in some other country.
What inspires you?
Today I am inspired by perfection. I like, when I have plenty of time to work with the item and then I try to make it to my version of perfection in every detail, with every step. Some other things that inspires me are simplicity and shapes, trying to balance these two together as much as possible.

If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be and why.
There are so many talented milliners in the world, I love to see their works, many of them have found their signature - you will realize from their work, who is behind it. But if to name only one today, then it would be Mr. Tracy for all these complicated sculptural shapes in such a good balance with the trimming plus the accuracy of the work. I just would not drink tea with him, but I would dream to be his student.

What is your favourite material to work with?
I think its still classical, beautiful, good quality sinamay fabric.

Whats your best millinery tip?
With patience, everything can be improved, hidden and re-designed.

What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
I hope that this challenge is still coming.
Famous words to live by.
Treat people like you want you to be treated and life will be generous to you.

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Irina Bluebird

I would sign on under every word about time Estonia being part of USSR - I was grew up there. :) We even had thougher time in 90s... Shops were empty, so we had indeed sew many clothing items ourselves. I would agreed  with Marge - she is first who brough simanay hats to Estonia. I do not know anyone else who makes hats back there, except her. I am from Estonia but I do not live there, so she is the one. I do admire your creations despite being a milliner as well. Well done.

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