After accidentally falling in love with millinery via a crash course hat making expedition with her friend involving glue guns and store bought flowers, Dianne Graham knew that it was something she wanted to persue further. Her pieces exude femininity, style and are just a touch "Over The Top" as her clever label alludes to. Read on to find out more about Dianne's true love of millinery.
What do you love most about millinery?
I absolutely love it when a client finds the right hat. It is such a joy to see their faces light up, to hear the happiness in their voice, and knowing that something that I created is going to make their day a little more special.
How did you get into millinery?
Quite by accident. I had always enjoyed wearing hats and I was at an event that was showing hats. A friend suggested we could make our own. So we bought blank hats, went to a craft store and loaded up on cheap flowers and hot glue sticks. I knew what I was doing was not millinery. I wanted to be able to call myself a true milliner. So I bought by first set of blocks, a few yards of sinamay and searched all over the internet for tutorials. I found two that I watched over and over again, I purchased a few key books and I practiced a lot. I made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of sinamay, but kept at it.
In a sentence tell us how you would describe your designs.
Tastefully overstated, I want designs to be "over the top", hence the name of my business. I like bolder and more colourful designs with unique trims.
What is your ideal customer?
My favorite client is one that admits she knows nothing about millinery and wants my help to create a custom hat for her. I do a lot of custom orders for the Kentucky Derby. My favorite customers are those that send me a picture of their dress and ask me to create something to go with it. Most of my business is online, so good communication with these clients is the key. I take photos at every decision point for their approval, or if they are unsure I will take photos of different options to choose from. It can be very time consuming, but in the end the client always gets a hat she loves.
What inspires you?
Colours inspire me a lot, I love colourful things, and love how different colors look good together. It could be a throw pillow with two coloured stripes on it and when I see the colours together, I think those two colors would look great together on a saucer.
If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
I have never been one who is star struck by celebrity. I would want to have tea with some of the great instructors I've met. Two years ago I got a chance to go to the first Millinery Meet Up and met several great instructors. I will be going again in October and there will be even more great instructors. I will not be able to have a class with all of them, but would love to be able to take tea with all of them, just for the chance to ask a thousand questions.
What is your favourite material to work with?
Without a doubt I love working with Sinamay and Silk, but leather is a strong contender.
Whats your best millinery tip?
I never reduce the price of my hats, if something isn't selling after being on the shelves, I'll pull it off and re-make it. The leather pillbox above was not the original design. The original design didn't sell, and it didn't show well. So I replaced the trimming with the pink leather rose and think it makes a much nicer hat.
What has been the biggest challenge you face in millinery and how do you overcome it?
Time, I wish I could spend every waking moment in my hat room, but real life gets in the way. I take a bag with me everywhere I can, so I always have something I can work on. If I am traveling for business, I will take my stiffened fabric and cut flower petals at the hotel.
Famous words to live by.
Measure twice, cut once! I have ruined too many hats thinking I could just eye it.
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