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In the Studio with Lisa Tan, Milliner...

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London-based, Lisa Tan's millinery is quirky, individual, and expertly made with clean lines, luxe materials and beautiful attention to detail. This Australian milliner is making a name for herself on the international scene, having shown at London Fashion Week and being stocked in some of the London's most prestigious stores and boutiques, and also being somewhat of an expert in the Fashions on the Field game too, she's definitely a name to watch in the headwear world. 

We have selected pieces for this season from a number of her collections, which are tied together in an on-trend monochrome theme so will be perfect for any day of the races, but especially for all you ladies going to Derby Day! We think you'll love the range of show-stopping hats, elegant headbands and sophisticated birdcage veils alike.  

Now we do have a little confession, much as we would have liked to we didn't fly all the way to London to complete this interview, but the wonders of modern technology have shrunken the world and the interview could be done from the comfort of our respective studios, hurrah! So read on to find out more about Lisa Tan's world of headwear... 

Lisa with her SS15 collection at London Fashion Week

TEH - Tell us about your collection for TEH this season, we've loved having the privilege of picking from such a large body of your work...  

LT - Yeah, it's kind of like a “greatest hits” from the last three collections, and is actually a mix of AW14, SS15 and AW15, but they’ve been adapted to suit the Australian spring.

From AW14, we have the “Linda” style, which has been super popular over in the UK this year due to its versatility, and TEH is the only stockist to have the sinamay base variation.

From SS15, which was inspired by nature, we’ve got two of the most spectacular styles, “Gisele” and “Adriana”, which are so perfect for those wanting to make a statement on Derby Day.

Then there’s AW15, which is my latest collection and was inspired by equestrian sports and English heritage. The “Sophie” veil with tiny velvet bows is my favourite, and a wonderful choice for anyone who prefers to wear a headpiece over a hat.

TEH - You have quite an elegant (and may be say, winning!) style, how would you describe your millinery aesthetic?

LT - My style is more on the minimalist side of millinery. I believe in well-made pieces with beautiful, sculptural lines and quality trims which complement the base rather than being the feature. My designs are modern, but with a hint of feminine, retro influence and a quirky touch to make them unique. 

TEH - Has there been anyone or anything that has really inspired this?

LT - I love the 50s and 60s eras of fashion. There was a sophistication and femininity about the 50s, and the 60s was so solid, bold and quirky in its style. In terms of millinery influence, I was always overawed by Stephen Jones’ work for John Galliano in his Dior haute couture days. It was perfection!

TEH - You're quite the seasoned race goer, so was it a natural progression into millinery from race wear or did the millinery come first? 

LT - I come from the Fashions on the Field school of millinery, as I’m sure a lot of other milliners do these days! I started making my own hats so I could match them to my outfits, which I also made myself. Ironically though, I couldn’t learn millinery properly until I left Australia, as seven years ago there wasn’t a course you could do in Perth. I didn’t necessarily think it would become a career though, and it was only when I realised how much I hated my ecommerce job that I decided to take a short course in blocking and figured out millinery might be something I was good at. It also meant I could be my own boss, which is something I’ve always aspired to.

TEH - What have been the highlights of your career so far, any stand-out moments?

LT - I did two seasons of London Fashion Week (SS15 and AW15) in the official Designer Showrooms at Somerset House. I’ve always worked in fashion, but it had never even crossed my mind that one day I might exhibit my own brand at one of the official, major fashion weeks of the world, alongside other incredible brands that I’ve known and respected for years. That was a bit of a pinch-me moment.

Lisa Tan's London Fashion Week Display for AW15

TEH - You're a real globe-trotter of the racing scene, so I'm guessing you'd have a great international perspective on how the races here compare. What is it you think that makes the Australian Spring racing season so special? 

LT - It’s just insane! I’ve been lucky enough to have been to most major racing carnivals around Europe and none has the level of excitement, style and overall reach that the Melbourne Spring Carnival has. It just takes over the entire city, and then come early November most of the country gets involved in one way or another. It’s an iconic Australian event and you’ll never see another country in the world celebrate a horserace the way Australia does. I’m sure they think we’re mad!

TEH - I agree, there's something so unique about how Spring Racing is such an integral part of Melbourne life, you can't avoid it! Now, given your a bit of a Fashions on the Field pro, what's your secret to using millinery to create that perfect outfit? 

LT - Create unity in your look between your hat and outfit. Your hat shouldn’t outdo your outfit, and vice versa – they should both complement one another. And don’t think you have to start forming your outfit around a hat or a dress, you should instead style it around a piece you love, be in shoes or a bag or even a piece of jewellery. When you have a starting point that you love, the rest will come easily.

TEH - That is exactly how I form my outfits - I have been know to create a whole (non racewear!) look around a pair of socks, but picking one item really gives you a focus to build from! So what are your millinery trend predictions for this year, are there any trends you've seen in Europe you can see translating Down-Under?

LT - I think you can go either one of two ways this season – a structured brim, or a headband. I’ve been opposed to the hatless trend for a few seasons now, but I relented and brought out a small range of veiled headbands for AW15 as I think they’re a great look for cocktail parties and weddings. However, I know many of you are not so keen to don a proper hat at the races, so a veiled headband is a great alternative, and especially for the younger racegoers, too. But I believe the brim is making a comeback and over the next 12 months it should take its rightful place at the top of the millinery trend tree again.

TEH -  Ok, for giggles, who 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? 

LT - I’m so rubbish at these questions… at the moment, I’d say Miuccia Prada to design and Taylor Swift to wear it. It would definitely have a 60s vibe to it and the hat would be completely wearable i.e. not racewear.

TEH - I could definitely see Tay Tay in one of your designs, maybe "Sophie" would be the one?! Finally, what’s playing in your studio to help get those creative millinery juices flowing?

LT - Um, busted - I actually prefer to watch TV when making hats if I can! But nothing that requires deep levels of attention… reality TV is great, things like The Amazing Race, The Great British Bake-Off, Made in Chelsea and Keeping up with the Kardashians have all had recent airings. If I do have to listen to music though, it completely depends on my mood as to what I listen to, and that’s when I usually let Spotify decide for me with a random playlist.

TEH - So you're just multi-tasking and being efficient right -  learning to bake and make hats at the same time ;) ?! 

We're really excited to be presenting your very classy (and un-Kardashian like!) collection in our store this season Lisa, you've got some really wearable pieces I think will be a real hit. Thanks so much for your time.   

(Lisa is also one half of the fabulous On Track on Trend racing style blog, which is an essential read for all the racing fashionistas amongst you)

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