For those lucky pups who peruse our fortnightly large newsletter, i'm sure you saw our introduction to new Brighton trader and milliner-magnifique, KC Lake. Following her debut London show last week, we caught up with her to have a little chat about the lady behind the hats....
Q. KC, how on earth did you get into headgear?
A."It was on my honeymoon in October 2009 that I declared to my husband Lex that I was going to make hats. He sighed and I set about making an action plan. The sigh was not out of contempt but because it was another thing on a long list of creative endeavours I have pursued and subsequently let go; dressmaking (too technical), silkscreen printing (I lacked the tenacity) knitting (never got past knit one), interior decoration, soft furnishings, framing, junky styling and jewellery making are all pastimes I have dabbled in and still enjoy, in small doses. By November I had set up a home studio and in March I enrolled in Millinery 1 at London College of Fashion, under the expert tutelage of Chloe Scrivener. Ten weeks and three hats (felt, straw and buckram) later I was well and truly hooked. It transpires that millinery is in my blood (my great aunt was a milliner proper) and now it is an all consuming passion of mine.
Q.Would you say you have any definite influences?
A."I draw from many themes however vintage 1920-30’s and the gothic seem to reoccur in my work. I do not follow convention in the way I work. I cannot draw (perspectives and I just don’t get on) so I do not start with a sketch of an idea and I never seem to get round to mood boards. I work from people, photos, images, outfits, places…I work from the gut, on feeling and instinct. My millinery is driven from materials I source and I freestyle designs rather than block (blocks are expensive!). Freestyling guarantees completely unique shapes; to me individuality is the most important ethos."
Q.Do you see your pieces as wearable and where do they fit into a conventional fashion market?
A."People do stop me in the street and want to talk about the hat I am wearing. Those who have commissioned my pieces relay back all the (good!) attention they got when wearing it. I would love people to want to wear my hats for any occasion, not just to the races or a wedding. As for whether they fit in, i'd say probably not, but that's fine - I have never followed trends. My millinery is an example of the fanciful and freakish reconstructed into wearable art. Conceptual and completely bespoke, the handmade designs change with each new vision or commission. The styles I create are avant-garde, casual, edgy, eccentric and whimsical."
Whimsical is definitely the word. As you can see by the pictures below, KC's pieces, a mishmash of inspirations, time periods and locations are almost dream-like in their ambiguity. Gothic lace, shapes and styles such as turbans and exuberant colours take the eye to a land that time forgot, adding a touch of storybook to modern life. With milllinery like hers, we see how headgear doesn't have to be frumpy or one-time appropriate, but fantastical and exciting. Trading at Brighton on Sunday 7th November, go check her out.
Well, that's all from me folks - i'll be back in a week with pictures of all the occular delights Eastern Europe has to offer - vintage style blog on tour! With cold, cold weather ahead, i'm going to take a leaf out of Jason Scwarzman's book, circa 'Rushmore...'