Here we are heading into the very fashionable Melbourne Race Day Season and I wanted to get into the spirit of things. I have been busy working with local talent and have put together some editorial on a Race Day theme.
To start with – ‘ A Little Millinery Magic’.
During the Spring/Summer Fashion Week this year I was out scouting for talent and I ran into a very outstanding milliner, Kim Wiebenga. It was a busy night when we met, but we managed to get the chance and I got some photos of her collection. . I later contacted her to gain a greater insight of her talent and aspirations.
Although we only met once, I feel we got an understanding on each other and I really enjoyed hearing Kim’s answers to my questions. Please enjoy the interview.
n 1994, Kim studied Fine Arts at RMIT in Melbourne, where she developed a hard working ethic towards excellence in art and craft. Her comment “This sounds lofty but the experience definitely set a precedent in me to look beyond what is comfortable or mediocre and venture forth, always improving upon my skills and knowledge”. Clearly with such a strong creative aptitude, she is heading to great heights.
On asking her why she become a Milliner? She gave the perfect response,”It’s something about the combination of sculptural form with fashion and skill that appeals to me and I believe all the best milliners have that vital spatial awareness for composition which can then be expressed with individual style and technique”.
Why Millinery? This statement really says it all ”Hats, are the crowning glory, the ultimate accessory to define a look or a personality. It’s actually quite an honor to make something so special”.
Her inspirations are in life?
Kim follows in the footsteps of both her Grandmothers, both very talented garment makers. Kim mentioned, “I remember once as a young girl my Dutch Oma gave me a bag full of colored cottons, seemingly every color imaginable and I was quite besotted by it”. Kim has since collected fabrics the world over and finds the potential of their beauty to be absolute and pure.
“I’m not prone to idolisation but I do find honest inspiration in daily life from people who simply ‘get on with it’ and from those who create with a unique or brave vision. Witnessing others like this helps me to dig deep and find the necessary focus to proceed in the best possible way” Kim added “Whilst I’m naturally artistic, I don’t go into any collection half hearted and that can be taxing!’
On the inspiration in fashion, she simply replied “Of course there are a myriad of amazing milliners out there to aspire to, but having being fortunate enough to briefly meet Stephen Jones after placing second at last years Oaks Day Millinery Award.” Her encounter really made an impression, “I was most struck by his unguarded demeanour”, “He is someone who has wholeheartedly tapped into the wealth of his own artistic expression and contributed immensely to the world of millinery, a real eye opener for me to foray into his positive creative wavelength and hear his insights”.
We talked about her collection at the show, but I needed to get a better understanding of her ideas and her inspirations for her recent SS16 collection, “The collection is garnered towards the modern woman who wants sophisticated head wear. I have always admired effortless elegance and over the years have found I am best suited in the realm of refined line and form”.
She described some of the ideas behind some of her creations , “Even with my more youthful and playful pieces I try to keep this principle as my touchstone. This is trickier than it sounds especially considering the current trend of ‘headband millinery’, it is so easy for that to slip into novelty. Typically I am in the business of making high fashion head wear for the racing season but I really endeavour to make interesting hats with a standalone style that won’t seem ridiculous in an alternate context”.
I asked Kim about the choices of materials, fabric and colors? Clearly from her response you can feel her enthusiasm and passion really coming across “Materials are a constant delight simply because they can be so varied and applied in virtually any manner”.
When you see her hats you can see the experience flowing through them and the skill applied by using a variety of fabrics. Some fabrics are dictated by fashion and some are her favourite materials that she enjoyed working with. One favourite being leather, saying, “It’s lovely to work with and looks instantly contemporary”. She also uses a lot of sinamay, a fibrous material lamented by a lot of other milliners as a bit old fashioned, but Kim loves it and finds it so versatile as a foundation”.
Commenting on the choice of colours? Her reply, “Sadly the general public aren’t always brave when it comes to wearing colour, my preferred palette can be a little unconventional but I have learnt to choose colours more wisely in relation to what my clients typically wear”. But she insists that there will always be a couple of bold colour choices thrown in to her collection, especially with this season.
I really wanted to know how she felt when she saw people in her hats?
“When people wear a hat it can be quite a transformative experience, after all a hat sits right next to your face, the main focal point for your expressions and interactions with others. It is my hope that when someone wears one of my hats their essential self is elevated in some way. Perhaps they might walk with more confidence and personality or just feel that bit more alive. Nervous energy is also exiting for those uninitiated to wearing hats and I love to see people take that brave first step”.
I do love the next statement by Kim, once again I think she says it all. “Often people tell milliners that they don’t look good in hats which is simply not the case, they just haven’t explored their options fully and the perfect hat is always obtainable when you are open to it”.
Working in a creative field, I know how special it feels taking an idea from conception to finish, I’m always curious about other artist’s opinions? Each answer is so different and always in a very inspiring way. Kim has explained her thoughts to this revealing answer; “Overall it is very satisfying to realise a hat from conception to the head, especially for a true patron. I typically generate a clear vision in my mind based on all the factors at play which I then feel confident to translate into a three dimensional piece. Sometimes it doesn’t come together so easily and evolves over time but either way I just roll with it. It’s like life and I eventually move onto the next challenge”.
When I first saw Kim’s hats I was blown away. They really are so delightful, exciting and you can almost feel the passion and enthusiasm for her craft in every piece and on meeting Kim and getting to know more about her passion and work ethics, she really is a very accomplished artist.
I would like to thank KIm for allowing me to photograph and feature her creations on GetYAfashon. She is a true inspiration. Her creativity, passion and strength of character really shine through.
The race Season is on the horizon, so please take the time to look at Kim Wiebenga’s website and see her work for yourselves! Enjoy x