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In the Studio with Kim Wiebenga Milliner...

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Kim Wiebenga is a milliner on the rise, she creates unbelievably delightful millinery, with immaculate workmanship, sensual lines and hints of natural influences. She has created a beautiful collection of effortless, gravity defying and floating elements this season, from feathers which dance across the head to delicately balanced, over-sized diamonds which look a million dollars. There's some real statement headpieces to turn heads trackside this cup-season.   

She hails from the idyllic seaside town of Lorne down the Great Ocean Road, so that seaside view and proximity to big nature must be the magic ingredient to her millinery art. 

Although we couldn't quite make the drive to Lorne to visit her studio in person this time, we did get time to have a little chat with the wonderful Kim and talk through this season's collection for us, and her millinery influences. 

TEH - Tell us about your collection for TEH this season, what have been your inspirations and what are you most excited about? 

KW - The intention behind my collection is to create high quality millinery to resonate with contemporary style aesthetics both on and off the track.

My penchant for metallic effects has carried across into this season, especially with the leather elements and veiling. In particular I have indulged in using lux ‘jewel-like’ finishes such as gold leaf, pearl and iridescence with exciting results.

I adore using an intense colour palette, no doubt inspired by my fixation for the light spectrum, and this year my sculpted feather work and hat forms alike are extra playful with rainbow effects, colourful layering, contrasting hues and ombré dyeing.

Sculpturally there are also some handcrafted diamonds securely wired into headpieces and balanced to seemingly defy gravity…. the ideal accessory to look ‘expensive’! You can only imagine how many hours I have spent lost in these pursuits!

TEH - Your style seems to have really evolved over the last couple of seasons, how would you describe your it? 

KW - I love to see modern women who dress with quality, authenticity and confidence, so I’m very conscious not to overwork hats so they maintain elegance and an effortless style when worn with other elements.

There is a very satisfying harmony when ‘a look’ comes together beautifully but that said there is also a lot of scope for personality.

Individuality is what makes style memorable, especially when it is a true reflection of oneself.

TEH - What or who do think have been the major influences on your evolving style?

KW - My influences are unlimited and quite diverse, however my admiration for the natural world has always inspired my design work, especially in terms of colour and form.

I also find a lot of motivation from seeing other artists and people in general just doing their own interesting things with love and integrity. That always encourages me to excel with my own craft, in my own way.

TEH - The workmanship in your pieces is incredible, you have a real talent but what was it that inspired you to become a milliner in the first place and unleash this talent into the world (luckily for us!)? 

KW - As a little girl my first fascination was with colour. I remember my Dutch Oma once giving me a bag full of tiny cottons, in every imaginable colour of the rainbow! Bursting with joy and inspiration, I basically went to work making and collecting absolutely ANYTHING of interest.

Since then things have progressed across various disciplines; I have a Degree in Fine Arts in Gold & Silversmithing and I also worked for some years as a florist before training as a milliner.

Millinery came about through natural curiosity and experimentation and it turned out to be a delightful culmination of my many loves and interests…. although I have to confess to seeing my creations as intimate sculptures rather than items of clothing! I really do put a lot of thought and a lifetime of experience into each piece.

Copper Feather Headpiece by Kim Wiebenga Millinery

Copper feather headpiece from Kim Wiebenga SS15 collection 

TEH - You've been making great strides over the last few year’s, what's been the proudest moment or greatest achievement of your career so far?

KW - I love to see my hats take off on their own adventures: finding new audiences online, being promenaded at the races, taking on praise & recognition in far-flung places or simply by just finding the right owner.

It is also gratifying when my millinery is respected and admired by my peers and those in related industries, but basically I’m thrilled when the work transcends and connects with people on its own journey.

TEH - We are just getting into the craziest time of the headwear calendar, what is it you love most about the spectacle of Spring Racing season? 

KW - The Spring Racing season is indeed a spectacle, uniquely Australian and wonderful for people watching. It makes me happy to see everyone dusting off the winter frost and expressing themselves freely. It's like a cloud butterflies have descended en masse.

TEH - What do you think the main headwear trends this Spring Racing season will be? 

KW - I think we are really embracing the ‘re-invention of the hat’ and challenging ourselves more and more with what millinery we choose to wear and when. Hence there will be more decorative headpieces worn on headbands or combs as women experiment with different types of adornment. Veiling is also experiencing a revival bringing some mystery and old world allure back to the racetrack.

Playing with vibrant colour is also a great option synonymous with spring racing. Otherwise you can always keep your style classic wearing ‘black & white’ or add some instant glamour with on trend metallic elements.

Black Leather Lily Headpiece with White Birdcage Veil

Black leather lily headpiece with white birdcage veil from Kim Wiebenga SS15 collection

TEH - Having an amazing hat is the crowning look to an outfit, what's your secret to creating the perfect racewear look with headwear? 

KW - You definitely don’t want all the elements of your look to compete with each other for attention. If you have found a wonderful hat then let that be the outstanding feature and simply complement it with the rest of your outfit. I believe hats are the foremost fashion statement as you wear them next to your face and they can really set the tone, personality and essence of your style.

TEH - Such a great tip Kim, and now for a bit of fun - what would be your perfect millinery ménage a trois? I.e. If you made the hat, who would have designed the outfit, and who would be wearing it? 

KW - In terms of high fashion it might be Tilda Swinton wearing Josh Goot…. both disarming and unique!

TEH - Amazing choice - Tilda, Josh Goot + Kim Wiebenga, we die! Finally, what’s your favourite tune to listen to get your groove on when making hats? 

AW - Wow, I could spend days deliberating over that question as I am constantly listening to music during my waking hours however this is currently playing and is ironically a perfect choice!

Ane Brun “Humming one of your songs”

TEH - What a beautiful track Kim, and thanks so much for your time we're so pleased to have your wonderful millinery in our store again this season.   

You can buy your own stunning piece of Kim Wiebenga Millinery from our online store here

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