We are delighted to have Irish millinery Aoife Kirwan on board to deliver our new millinery course starting in April.  To have someone of Aoife's calibre delivering this course will add to the students learning experience as Aoife is extremely passionate about Millinery and design.  We managed to grab 5 minutes with Aoife this week to chat about her love for millinery and to get an insight into her work.

You originally studied Fashion Design, what made you cross over in to Millinery?

I fell in love with the completely hands on process of traditional model millinery as opposed to the outsource production element of fashion design. However I still love fashion design and design and make pieces for myself when I have the time.

What are your preferred fabrics to work with?

I love experimenting with whatever newly developed materials come on to the market but my real love is working with traditional fur felt and combining it with other textures such as leather or metal.

Why do you think hat and head pieces always remain in fashion?
Hats make people feel different. When you see someone try on a hat that suits them their whole posture and countenance changes. They stand taller and act more confident because they know they look great.  You can also make more of a statement with hats; you can express things through your hats that could come across ‘costumey’ if you tried to express it through your clothes.

What is the key attribute to make that statement piece?

Many things go into a winning design including colour, materials, balance (sometimes less is more!) and craftsmanship but the biggest attribute to any hat in my opinion is the attitude of the wearer.

What celeb would you most like to design a head piece for?

Of course it’s an amazing feeling for me to see one of my pieces in a magazine or on TV being worn to some event or other but to me it’s just as important when I get a thank you note from someone who ordered a hat for a very small event where it will be seen by only a few people.

What is the hat etiquette when at a wedding?
The most important thing for hats being worn to a wedding is that the person wearing the hat feels comfortable and confident. The last thing you want  is to spend the whole day adjusting an uncomfortable hat, holding it on in all the photos if it’s windy, blocking everyone else’s view in the church or crushing it against the car roof. That’s why the one-to-one consultation with your milliner is so important as you can discuss all your personal needs and come up with a hat custom made for you that once you have on you can forget you are wearing and enjoy your day while looking amazing.

When teaching what do you think is the most important rule in millinery that you can instill in your students?

To put down the glue gun and pre-made bases that have no place in proper millinery. The importance of learning traditional millinery techniques to produce a properly handcrafted hat cannot be understated. But also that in millinery you are only really limited by your own imagination and not to be afraid to think outside the box, experiment, push the boundaries and have fun.

What advice would you give your students when they go to embark on a creative career whether in millinery or design?

It’s a tough business and not all glamour so make sure you really want it. Setting up my own business was the hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve done to date. If you are passionate about it have faith in yourself, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from your local Enterprise Board, etc. you’ll need all the help you can get.