Anel Heyman of New Zealand believes that, "a hat completes an outfit, it makes you stand out from the crowd and it adds a wonderful charm to a lady. It gives you that excitement and it makes you feel good" We couldn't agree more especially when we laid eyes on the featured image of a beautiful Sinamay basket weave headpiece with a Swarovski crystal encrusted, brocade material centre-piece. Here we chat with Anel about all things millinery and find out more about her award winning headpiece that is taking her international! 

What do you love most about Millinery?
I love the freedom it gives me to be creative. I love that every piece is unique and different from the next. To me there are no boundaries in millinery, which allows me to push myself to explore and think outside the box. I love seeing a client’s face when they come to pick up their custom made piece and are overjoyed and speechless with what they see on their head. 

How did you get into Making hats and headpieces?
I have always been a creative person and have made many things in my life. I wear hats to church and always had to order them from a milliner, until 5 years ago when I decided I would like to learn how to make them myself. I booked in for a 3 day introduction to millinery course and I was hooked from the first day. I loved it so much that I couldn’t sleep and was busy designing in my head all night.  

From there I was mostly self-taught and was reading, asking questions and experimenting with techniques, fabrics and ideas. I am a very determined person and if I want to know how to do something I will search / experiment until I find the answer. 

In a sentence tell us how you would describe your designs. 
I see my designs as very elegant and sophisticated with a bit of structure to ensure the perfect balance.

What is your ideal customer?
My ideal customer would be someone who is willing to try different things. Someone who is open for suggestions and who is happy to get out of their comfort zone. I have many ladies who come to see me and have a specific shape or style in mind, but when I steer them to different ideas and let them try on other shapes and styles, that’s when the magic happens. It is as if a whole new world opens up for them and they realise that they can wear that piece which they thought would never suit them.

 We absolutely love this image of one of your headpieces you have made can you tell us a little bit about it. 
A lot of my hats come together as I work on them and this is once again why I enjoy millinery so much. The freedom let me design as I go and brings the hat to life in a special way. It makes you think about what you are doing and makes you look at different options, techniques and materials of how to execute a piece perfectly.

If you could invite any milliner to tea who would it be?
It would have to be Rose Cory. The amount of knowledge she has, her skills and the stories she can share would be absolutely priceless. She has been around for a long time and still teaches traditional millinery techniques to many students. I would love to meet Rose and am planning to attend a class with her in August this year.  A cup of tea and a scone might just be in order! 

What has been your greatest millinery achievement so far? 
I have recently won the annual HATalk International Millinery competition (2015) by creating a headpiece called ‘Lantern’. The theme was ‘Transition’ and there were no restrictions on materials and techniques to be used. I read about the competition and was interested to take part but was not sure what I would make. I love nature and get inspired by all the beautiful things and colours out there. A few days later I saw a photo of this Chinese lantern plant and instantly knew that this was it. But how was I going to make it? After studying the photo from all angles I remembered that I purchased some spider mesh fabric in Brisbane earlier at the ‘Hats off to Brisbane Convention’, which I have not yet used. This was perfect for my project. I started drawing a paper pattern and with a few scrap pieces of sinamay made sure that the design would work. Over to the spider mesh I cut out the 8 sections and wired them.

After waiting anxiously for the winners to be announced I received an email at 4.50am one morning to say that I have won! I could not believe it and had to wake my husband to check the email with me! This is what the judges said: “This headpiece is original, beautifully executed, well balanced and neatly positioned, with the core weight being held by the headband. Anél has used the materials masterfully to capture that moment of delicate transition, when the plant passes from life to death in order to live again in the Spring."

What’s your best millinery tip?
Workroom tip: 
Sinamay is overall a rough and hard material and sometimes have a few flaws or tiny sharp bits sticking its head out when you run your hand over a blocked piece or an edged brim. Even the smallest scissors can’t get close enough to the fabric to snip these off, so I use a nail clipper. You can get right up against the fabric and easily get rid of that annoying little piece. 

Personal tip:
There are no rules. If it works for you, do it!

If you had to make your last hat what would it be?
Mmmm… Perhaps something completely different from my usual work like a theatrical piece where I can go totally over the top and use all of my elaborate feathers!

Famous words to live by.
I have two:
Everything happens for a reason.
Do what you love and love what you do.

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Tags: #millineryinterview, Anel Heyman

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