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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What's on your head today?

Hello everybody!

Even if this week keeps going on slowly and busy and my Horoscope is making me want to cry, what still makes me happy are all the projects I'm working on and the ideas which are getting to me despite the lack of time...

They are many, and I'll share them all to you, I promise.
Also, the people around me keep inspiring me and today I'm going to show you something very special.

First of all, a little bit of background story: do you remember that sewing workshop I've been with Lou a couple of weeks ago?
Well, there I first met Niamh O'Rourke.
She was sitting right in front of me at the sewing table which had been set up in the attic of Om Diva and we started talking as Lou and her realised to have a friend in common.

Of course, we started talking about what we do, we looked at pictures from Lou's last shooting, at my blog and she showed us some of her work as a hair stylist and... hat maker.

While looking at some of the pictures, a little bell started ringing in my head.
I couldn't tell if it was curiosity, surprise or the strange feeling of interest you get when you are showed something which is not part of your every day life, neither of your culture.
I just knew I wanted to know more about it...

Because of that, after meeting for a coffee last week, Niamh who happened to be very open and friendly about showing me her work, and I arranged a meeting and yesterday morning I went to visit her in her Dublin house, which is in the heart of the city, and her studio.

When we arrived and she opened the door, the room which she uses as her creative appeared immediately in front of us, and passing that door felt like entering Niamh's world, a different dimension made by feathers, stones, pearls and lace, where everything is exquisitely beautiful 

and delicate.

Niamh has bee making hats for two years now, mostly for horse races and weddings, 

although she creates a lot of vintage inspired pieces for her own collection, which are absolutely timeless, 

as she herself says, because of their characteristics that make them fashionable independently from the actual trends which come and go...

The process is quite simple: the client goes to her and she first finds out about the size of the head piece she is going to create.

Then the client and her together decide a bit about colours and the creative process is then ready to begin as Niamh thinks about shape and fabrics.

She buys most of her materials in Dublin, or has them ordered from other countries, but when she travels for pleasure she cannot help but bringing back home a little treasure of fabrics and materials she is then going to use for her head pieces.

It's not about buying pieces of fabrics by themselves: every time she spots something she likes, she just takes it and re invent it to become a head piece or head band.
"Once I even threw apart a top!" she confesses...

Also, there are some materials she usually gets in particular areas of the world where she knows she'll be able to find the best quality of them.
Chantilly lace from Paris, for example, or silks from Vietnam.

Niamh does not just creates the head piece, but she also makes some excellent pieces of jewelry to go with it, 

as a beautiful neckless she showed me,

or a wrist band 

which I thought was absolutely stunning, incredibly elegant.
Sometimes, the head piece itself seems to be a jewel, especially some of her bridal ones.

Her great abilities has already brought her some good success, as she appeared in various magazines such as "Bride" 

and "Xpose'", 

but when I asked her about the hat making business, what she told me surprises me a lot: 

in fact I thought it was still a very small one, even if people are getting a little braver with hats, especially because most of them require so much time and materials to be done and are in the end something which you wouldn't wear everyday...

But apparently, the business is widening very rapidly and becoming big and crowded.
That's why a hat designer has to fight to stand out just as much as a fashion designer these days, which makes Niamh's recent success even more significant.

It's worth for her, because she really loves what she does, and she is so creative about experimenting with shapes and fabrics, creating new combinations or taking inspiration from the vintage styles which are still magical nowadays, especially because of the hats, which is the past used to be a fundamental part of a great everyday look.

It's worth, as for everybody who loves what they do, but it does not mean that it's always fun.
Especially if you really want to create something beautiful, as Niamh does.
Sometimes, she told me, it takes her days and days to just fix a shape and make the hat actually stay on the head, or pin hundreds of pearls and Swarovski to a bow...

But then the result speaks for itself.

Personally, I always love hats and I wear them pretty often, even if the horse races which are the most popular occasion where women usually wear these kind of hats are something which is very far from my culture, as they are definitely British.
In Italy we do have horse races, but they are mostly for the people involved in the business, no body considers them an event which is worth of notice and no one, believe me, would ever think about getting an outfit for them, with or without a hat to complete it.

But looking at these beautiful head pieces make by Niamh made me wish I had the chance to wear them.
I mean, actually it's all about a bit of courage and self esteem: why not wear them on a casual day?

Well, at least some of them, like the smallest ones which are for sure much more flattering and stylish than any other hair ornament you would get in Top Shop...

I guess the world is not yet ready for these beautiful pieces to become a part of our every day life, but maybe int eh future we will assist the return of hats and people will start wearing them again, choosing them depending on their outfit or making some of them a signature of their personality...

I'd be curious to see that,
meanwhile, I had a lot of fun trying on Niamh's designs, thanks to her help fitting the various head pieces on my head properly, as she is also a brilliant hair stylist, as I said before.
Suddenly, I imagined how would it be to be one of her brides: being made a hat, jewels, being fit the hat on your head by fixing the hear beautifully around it...
Sometimes she also goes with the brides to choose her dress, she told me, also because she likes the head piece not to match perfectly with it but to be different in order to make every piece stand out instead of having a plain look which risks to be cheap eventually...
Isn't it what every bride would want?
I'd say yes, even because Niamh herself is so nice and lovely to be around that I'm sure every bride would feel like having one more maid to help her: a maid with amazing skills indeed.

Skills which are applied to create something totally unique, which will probably last forever because of that and which are able to satisfy a very wide range of clients, as Niamh's youngest brides are around 25 years of age, while her major clients for the races could be over 60...
This is a further demonstration of Niamh's sensibility, as she is able to create very special pieces of art for her clients, understanding what they want and need, with the purpose of making them happy and satisfy but also to create something absolutely beautiful...


Pictures by Chiara Pizzi.


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