Talented milliner Carol Watson has a goal … to get more people wearing hats! Whether you like elegant and formal, or interesting and quirky, Carol can design a hat to suit. Talented milliner Carol Watson has a goal … to get more people wearing hats! Whether you like elegant and formal, or interesting and quirky, Carol can design a hat to suit.
You began creating hats and fascinators 6 years ago. What prompted the new hobby?
I love hats! There is a certain dignity about them and when you put one on, you can change who you are like an actress for a day, playing the part that your hat, as part of your costume, determines. I used to buy bits and pieces and put them together on a hat, then pull them off and do something else for the next occasion.
When my children finished school and moved away to uni, I had a slight case of ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’, which prompted me to look for something to do for myself. I jumped at the opportunity to learn millinery from a renowned Australian milliner in Melbourne. Her name is Louise McDonald, and she is a very generous teacher. Louise taught me basic millinery, and now I go back every year for her summer school to learn new techniques and keep up to date with the latest trends.
Why did you choose millinery; what was it that ‘fascinated’ you?
I have a passion for fashion, and there is something about well matched headwear that completes’ an outfit; it is the difference between being dressed and being dressed up. There is nothing I like more than creating a piece for a client, then seeing them all dressed up and feeling confident that they look good. Let’s face it; every woman loves to dress up … the problem is, we just don’t have enough occasions to wear a hat these days.
How many pieces have you created, and do you have a favourite?
I have been making hats for 6 years and have lost count of how many. Probably around 300, as I make about 50 hats and fascinators a year. I have so many favourites! Sometimes while I am making them, they become an obsession, and I think I may not be able to part with them; but then someone puts it on their head, looks amazing and feels great, and I just want them to belong to that hat.
The very first hat I ever made is still in my hat room; it is an old fashioned style hat with a large brim and a little bit ‘Audrey Hepburn’ in lilac and bright green; it would have to be my favourite, if only for sentimental value. I am very fickle though; I fall in love with a different hat every week.
How long does it take to create a piece?
Some hats can be created in an afternoon – some take several weeks. Often when I have worked on a hat for a while, I may leave it for days, even weeks, not quite sure whether it is right or not, then I will just tweak a couple of things, and I know it is finished.
You are a keen punter, attending many national race days. What are the current fashions for headwear?
The current fashions in headwear are trending back towards the classic clean lines that frame the face. The fun of fascinators will always have a place, but will never replace the sophistication that a hat provides to an outfit. There is also a trend towards different fabrics and textures, resulting in some of the amazing sculptured hats you will see around this year. I particularly love the sculptured and stiffened lace headpieces that are turning up they are elegant, formal and quirky, all at the same time.
If you could design a piece for a celebrity, who would it be and what would you design?
If I could design a headpiece for a celebrity, it would be for the Duchess of Cambridge; she is inspiring more people to wear hats and headpieces. She has a beautiful face and always looks so elegant in headwear. She is making hats cool again; many younger people are noticing how much style she has and aspiring to that.
You’ve already picked up a number of prizes in fashions events. Do you think you might enter some bigger competitions?
My pieces have collected several ‘best hat’ and ‘elegant racegoer’ prizes, which is very humbling for a newcomer to the industry like myself. (Not the least of which has included categories in FOCUS Fashion On The Field over the last couple of years). Prizes aside, I will always be striving to produce hats that complement the wearer and make them feel fabulous; the competitions are secondary to my goal … to get more people wearing hats.
I have been very fortunate this year to have Vienna from Fever Hair display my hats in her window; it has created quite a storm of interest, and I was not aware Port Macquarie was harbouring so many hat enthusiasts. It is loads of fun! As you can probably tell … I love it!
To quote Monty Python: “The trouble with the world today is that not enough people are wearing hats!”