Congratulations to Holly Sansalone of West Australia on her third place win in the recent MIMC competition for her “Mother of the Bride/Groom” themed headpiece. This was a natural progression for Holly who has a well established bridal veil and headwear business alongside bespoke hats and headpieces for special events. Photos: MIMC

What was the inspiration behind your design?
I wanted to create a piece that was whimsical and unique, yet romantic. I was sketching ideas and the pencil I was using happened to have a little gold crown on the end. I immediately thought of the heart cage idea, filled with flowers blooming and knew that was my design. Inspiration comes from the strangest places!

With a choice of three garments to co-ordinate with your headwear, why did you choose this particular outfit?
Instantly I was drawn to the floral organza dress, it was romantic and feminine. I love making silk flowers, so thought that would be the perfect direction to take with my entry and compliment the dress beautifully.

Wearability and comfort were included in the criteria, how did you ensure stability for this headpiece? 
The wirework heart sits to one side of the head and I wanted it to look like it just perches there, effortlessly. I constructed a wire headband and extended additional wire supports most of the way along the left hand side of the headband, to balance the weight. Additional elastic at the nape, was just enough keep the headpiece secure, yet comfortable to wear.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when creating this headpiece? 
I am a perfectionist, so making sure that the wirework heart was perfectly symmetrical was my first challenge. Then I needed to make sure the rest of the construction was strong, yet light and comfortable. I cut the wires in pairs, matching the lengths as I assembled. I kept the wire joins in the central spoke, to keep the heart clean and simple. I then wrapped everything in silk organza and attached the flower tendrils. The headpiece had lots of technically challenging elements, but visually I am really pleased with the outcome.

Do you sketch the design firstly?
I always do a rough sketch first, it gives me a visual to look at whilst I gather materials and start the piece. I can then go back and make additions and change as I go. But this headpiece came out exactly as I had imagined it in my head.

Do you have a tip for other students to encourage them to enter competitions?
Just do it! It is a wonderful opportunity to set yourself a challenge, try something new and encourage you to get outside of your comfort zone. I particularly liked having feedback on my headpiece from industry peers. Like most milliners, I work by myself, so it was a nice way to feel included in something outside of just my workroom.

How would you describe your designs?
One of a kind pieces, handmade with traditional couture techniques, a nod of vintage flavour and a high attention to detail.

What does this win mean for your label “Holly Barker Millinery”?
This is wonderful recognition by my peers for years of hard work. I am thrilled! Millinery is my passion, I love to make hats for my beautiful clients and just want to keep sharing my designs with the world.

I am excited to learn some new skills through other wonderful milliners on Hat Academy and am so grateful to Elaine for her wonderful prize.

» More from Holly Barker | @hollybarkermillinery

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