It was a trip to Australia that first sparked an interest in millinery for Dutch creative Agnes Fizzano and the rest, as they say is history. Agnes has always been a big lover of accessories and of course millinery being no exception. Although millinery is not particularly popular in the Netherlands, Agnes has made her mark in the bridal industry and has found her true passion. Read on to find out all about Agnes from AgAtelier.
What do you love most about Millinery?
I always loved hats and especially fascinators, seeing them in movies, awards shows on TV and in magazines, but unfortunately, less on a every day basis in real life. I live in The Netherlands, where hats and fascinators are famously known to be worn by the Royal Family but people tend to be shy to wear them themselves. When I started making my own hats and fascinators, I was very happy to see my friends inspired by it and also wear them more often! It's wonderful to top an outfit with that little extra on your head, after all: it's "Head to Toe", right?
How did you get into Millinery?
I started my adventure into millinery with a trip to Australia. It was exactly during the racing period and I was hoping to get inspired and find something special for my then upcoming wedding. My friend, the wonderful Australian soprano Mirusia Louwerse, offered to show me around the shops of Melbourne where I could find a ready-to-wear piece, but also introduced me to to the opportunity to create and make my own. I immediately was sold by the idea and started taking classes with the Hat Academy! Of course, I made my own bridal fascinator to match my wedding dress, but my friends all wanted to join me in my passion, and so the wedding turned into a "catwalk" of fascinators, I loved it!
How you would describe your designs?
I tend lean towards simplicity, classic designs that appeal to most women and encourage them not to be shy to add to their outfit.
What is your ideal customer?
I feel that it is imperative to work very closely with the customer on custom designs, and i really enjoy working with someone that extends her ideas during the process. I often had ladies asking for something little, not too obvious, but once we started they were hooked, asking for more and happily ending up with a statement piece. Best case scenario!
What inspires you?
I love the Golden Twenties era and enjoy movies set around that time. The milliners and costume artists working in that field are doing such a great job, creating a nostalgia for style, elegance and details. It instantly makes me want to get dressed up in a hat, do my hair and put some jewellery on as soon as possible!
I also, work in show business and being a milliner allows me to bring that little extra sparkle to the stage. I love to be able to offer a custom design to match a robe of a singer, for example. the millinery can be inspired by the piece of music or the stage set up and adds an eye-catcher to the performance.
If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be and why?
For starters, I think it would be very interesting to chat with a royal milliner! What an exiting but difficult task that must be for them to work with somebody of that rank with every detail of an outfit always being so important, especially the headwear!
To my own benefit, I'd be very happy to meet Rebecca Share. I first fell in love with her playful, yet classic 2012 collection and I admire her pursuit of new shapes and techniques, even leading to her own hat block collection. She always seems so positively inspiring with her wide, happy smile on her face.
What is your favourite material to work with?
For two years now, my focus went into the bridal market and so I love to work with crystals and pearls, lace and tulle. I sell ready to wear pieces in a shop and also work with hair stylists, but, as mentioned before, I love to create one off, unique pieces for brides according to their wishes and the style of the dress. Playing with these materials has offered a big playground for me if i get to make a big sinamay head piece from time to time, even better!
Whats your best millinery tip?
Good working equipment is everything when you are a beginner. When I started, I thought I didn't really need professional tools but that always ended up in frustration, trying to complete what I had in mind. I always seemed to be suddenly in need of that one thing that I just decided not to buy. With good tools you get the job done much faster and with a nicer finish.
Great photography is the key to exposure! The world of social media offers great possibilities, but it also needs to be treated well. A great picture catches more attention and can instantly speaks to your target group when it comes to advertisement or sales.
What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery and how do you overcome it?
I guess, sales will always be a challenge for me. It's not only a seasonal issue, but also the fact that you constantly need to evolve your designs to stand out while you are still working on selling your ready-to-wear items. My experience from selling in a shop is that people will first see and and then maybe like your work without buying. When they see that there is constantly new pieces they are more likely to purchase. Seeing the piece worn in a picture next to the item helps them imagining themselves wearing it and so they are more likely to buy it.
Famous words to live by.
Only a very simple one, really: "A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." by Coco Chanel. So simple but it helps every time with choosing an outfit, out of my own closet or while shopping for something new.
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