HATS ABOVE THE REST: INTERVIEW WITH BRIGHTON MILLINER JOANNA ZARA
Following the success of last year’s pop up shop, Brighton based milliner Joanna Zara teamed up with the-Bias-Cut.com, to celebrate guilt free glamour at any age and. This year’s collaboration offered a new level of cool, as the pop-up shop not only showcased Joanna's new collection, consisting of adult ice cream colours, 50's glamour and the new Panama bar. It also exhibited the-Bias-Cut.com, who carefully curate beautiful garments from amazing European designers, not to mention jewellers to offer glamorous ladies of a certain age unlimited style. The Hat to Heel event was a major success and so I went to meet Joanna to find out what is next.
What inspired you to become a milliner?
I wanted to treat myself to a creative course, as I had just finished treatment for Breast Cancer. I have always loved hats, so millinery seemed like a natural progression. I found an intensive week-long course in London which looked like fun. So, with help from fellow parents and my lovely husband Paul, looking after our two boys, I took the course and travelled to London every day. I was lucky enough to be taught by Andrew Bristow at the London College of Fashion, he was an amazing teacher, he told us that once we had made the hats, he wanted us to be able to take them home and for our friends to go, wow! From that moment I got the bug, I enjoyed every minute of that course.
Are you seeing new trends in 2018, both in hats and head pieces?
I saw a marked difference between the two royal weddings, millinery has had a real upswing since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. Back then it appeared that some of the wedding party were being worn by their hats. Look at Princess Beatrice, she had so much flack for her hat at the wedding, that she decided to auction it on eBay, for charity. In fact, all the hats had a real edgy 90’s feel, very Dynasty. Fast forward to 2018 and this wedding felt more put together, people wore the hats, it was very low key and softer. I loved Kitty Spencer’s hat, it was delightful.
What is your favourite design from the new collection?
Le Dolce Vita, the large brimmed black one, it is very Audrey Hepburn. It is the hat of my dreams, it is the epitome of an Ascot hat. I have researched, and I have been unable to find larger brimmed hats on the high street. So, this is perfect for that market. I also love Francesca, the beautiful pink one. It is flattering on almost every face shape and very glamorous. I named it after my model, she happens to be The Graphic Foodie and she looks perfect in all my hats.
What inspired you to collaborate with the-Bias-Cut.com?
I contacted Jacynth through social media. I loved her ethos, and how she wrote so passionately about woman of a certain age/size being left behind and not finding great styles on the high street. The-Bias-Cut.com started three years ago, when Jacynth’s mother couldn’t find modern styles for her age, since then Jacynth has been all over the world curating the very best that new designers have to offer and selling them online. The-Bias-Cut.com even has its own campaign called Ageism is never in style, I love that passion and determination to turn things around, that alone made me want to collaborate with the-Bias-Cut.com.
What are your plans for Joanna Zara Millinery?
In November I will be at the ‘Hand made in Britain’ flagship show in Chelsea, it is an amazing show with beautifully hand-crafted items of all kinds, such as ceramics and jewellery, it is a real honour to be included. The Show takes place over three days from 9th-11th November 2018 at Chelsea Old Town Hall. It is also a dream of mine to have a new studio, I am running out of space in my current one, however space in Hove is in short supply, but that is a little way off yet.
What inspires your designs?
My previous collection was inspired by a selection of beautiful hats that were given to me by a friend, all vintage and made by a Mayfair Milliner, some dating from the turn of the century but mostly from the 50’s. The collection is going to exhibit at a house near the estuary at Chichester.
What is the inspiration behind the current collection?
I am always trying to design hats that make people feel good. There is a slight vintage feel to my designs that make people feel glamorous. I know different hats and styles suit different woman, so I try to match the hat to the person. In terms of colour pallet, now I am really into Ice cream colours. As for the Panama Bar, well it comes from an era that I love, I think they are so romantic and remind me of a glamorous bygone age on the French Riviera.
What is the best way to wear one of your hats?
I always provide clients with guidance depending on their style and face shape. I would never let someone leave with a hat that is totally wrong for them. I always find that hats work best tilted forward over your right eye, which then will create the perfect line. Once you know your style you won’t have to worry. Wear it like you mean it!
What is your most popular design?
My large brimmed hats are always popular as they suit a surprising range of woman. Failing that the Panama names Sofia is very popular, anyone can wear it, I make the Panamas in different shapes to suit the client.
Describe the woman who would wear your hats?
I think she could be any age, wants to look stylish, she is not afraid of standing out for all the right reasons and wants to find the hat that works for her. I would say that she doesn’t want to conform. Grown up hats for grown up woman!