Hong Kong Milliner Irene Yip has had an interest in fashion and creative crafts for many years and discovering Millinery when she was working in creative media was a perfect transition in her career. Irene has embraced traditional millinery blocking techniques with a delicate handmade touch to all her trims and flowers. Discover her millinery journey.
What do you love most about Millinery?
Millinery is magical. It is not only a form of three dimensional art. It is something that can crown the wearer with good feeling. It makes the wearer feels special and unique.
How did you get into Millinery?
I grew up in a family that used to run a feather business. My grandfather had a feather factory which was destroyed during the chaotic period in his country. He escaped to Hong Kong, settled down and rebuilt his business here. Therefore, as a kid, I was always surrounded by beautifully dyed feather mounts, extra long pheasant tails and peacock tails. There were hat samples trimmed by different types of feathers lying on my father’s work desk. They were my toys. I liked playing with them and adorned my hair with the pink feather lily in my father’s study. Hats and feathers always remind me of my happy childhood.
It was about 10 years ago, I was so tired of my day job. I started crafting with the feathers left behind by my father. I started from reading books, researching online, play around with my material and watching online tutorials. I taught myself millinery techniques. And then I travelled to other countries to take classes on millinery. All I wanted to do was to become a milliner so that I could leave the other job behind. And with all the hats and feathers, and other beautiful material, I found happiness.
How you would describe your designs?
My designs are feminine, elegant and modern.
What is your ideal customer?
My ideal customers are those who have confident in themselves. They would like to challenge themselves by wearing new styles without hesitation.
What inspires you?
Nature, city life, historical and modern fashion.
If you could invite any milliner to tea?
It would be Stephen Jones. I admire his works very much.
What is your favourite material to work with and why?
I work with silk a lot. I use silk to cover my hats and to make flowers. Silk is easy to get in my area. It is relatively cheap here. The variety is wide and the results always look luxurious.
Whats your best millinery tip?
Try every material and techniques and you will work out what suits you best.
What has been the largest challenge you face in millinery?
Millinery is a niche sector in where I live. People here seldom dress up and they don’t have the confidence to wear anything that makes them stand out from the crowd. It is difficult to change the culture. To make millinery to be more acceptable for the customers, I have to adjust the scale of the designs and the size of the hats. Therefore, I make more small hats than the large ones. I make hats with large brims sometimes but they sell very slowly. I like creating very elaborate designs but I have to remind myself that my customers tend to like things that are smaller, sweet and simple. But I believe that the customers will gradually change if I convince them with good designs.
Famous words to live by?
As Horace said “Don’t think, just do”.
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