What do you love most about millinery?
I like how hats and headpieces evolve during the making. When I am making them I will often have ideas that can change and improve the original idea.

How did you get into millinery?
I decided I wanted to make my own hat for Royal Ascot. My first DIY hat was quite nice, but I realised that I couldn’t execute my next ideas very well, because I didn’t understand how they were made. So I signed up for some classes with Rose Cory who was still teaching in London at that time. It was a long way from where I lived , but I was hooked straight away. I really enjoy making hats.

How would you describe your designs?
I make individual one off designs with attention to details and originality.

What is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer has a few ideas about colours and styles, but is open to suggestions.

What inspires you?
Nature is my biggest inspiration from flora and fauna to colours and shapes. I love that nature is perfect in its imperfection. But I really find inspiration everywhere and really try to remind myself to photograph or write ideas down. I have been inspired by architecture and even road markings or strange shapes and colour combinations you see out and about.

If you could invite any Milliner to tea who would it be?
I really like Bridget Bailey’s work. Her work is stunningly beautiful and very cleverly executed.

What is your favourite material to work with and why?
I love working with silk, dyeing and shaping it into something new. I also like making silk flowers.

Whats your best millinery tip?
My best tip is learn to make components from scratch. It gives you much more license to make something original.

What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
The biggest challenge was accessing further teaching while living in the Home Counties. Most courses are not near me. I still have small children and they come first. For a while I was able to do classes, but there came a time when my commitments at home meant I only had the time between school pick ups or when my husband was at home to focus on my millinery learning. Hat Academy has actually been my solution - it has allowed me to access classes in my home. I still do occasionally do classes up in London but it requires a lot of advance planning.

Famous words to live by:
Not so much famous words as a famous myth - there is a myth that Amish women used to put mistakes in their quilts to show humility. I don’t usually have to put mistakes in my work - they happen organically. But I always remember the myth and often decide to keep the mistake. There is perfection in imperfection.

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Tags: #millineryinterview, Charmaine Mitchell, millinery

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