AN award-winning Cork milliner took a leap of faith to make her baby girl proud of her — and it’s opened doors into a whole new world.
Kinsale’s Tina Hemlock Coyne set up her business in 2012 and has grown it to an award-winning millinery label.
Designing under the label and her name sake ‘Elizabeth Christina’, she creates and hand makes bespoke headpieces from a studio in her home and comes up with designs are regular winners on the racing circuit.
However, for 2018 she wanted to take her business to ‘the next level’.
“I have a 21-month-old baby girl, Lauren Elizabeth, and when I look at her I really want my business to be a success and for her to be so proud of what mum has worked to create,” she said.
“I saw some information about London Hat Week and thought, if you don’t try you will never succeed. I filled in the application forms and a couple of months later received the best email on my birthday to say that I was successful and would be showcasing at London Hat Week. I simply couldn’t believe it!”
If you consider that Tina’s design is one of only 300 hats from more than 30 countries worldwide to be chosen and showcased at London Hat Week in March, her excitement is understandable.
“Not only that, but it was also one of only 30 chosen to be displayed at the London Hat week Press Launch earlier this month,” added Tina. “This is certainly a huge step forward and will be a very proud moment to attend.”
Not quite as well-known as London Fashion Week, London Hat Week is nonetheless a high profile event attended by fashion press and media, stylists and photographers.
“London Hat Week is an open door,” added Tina. “It’s a new platform on which to showcase to the world of fashion what you can do.
“It can bring new opportunities that you didn’t expect would come your way when you are working on your own from a small studio in your home.
“But the prestige of bring shortlisted and picked to showcase on its own is phenomenal.”
The hat she will showcase in London is called Irish Lotus: “Each hat must represent the culture of your native country and Irish Lotus embodies Ireland’s struggle through history to fight for and protect its beauty and heritage.
“The cage of outer arrows, while being a showcase of colour, stands strong to protect the beauty inside. As like a lotus flower Ireland has risen from the depths of despair to become a flourishing nation of beauty.”
It took three months to design and create the technique she used to make the arrowhead signature design. The hat showcasing at London Hat week is a multi-colored version of this design and took two weeks to make.
“I am so passionate about millinery” says Tina. “It combines everything I love. Creating, designing, imagination, sewing fashion and craft skills but I think most of all it encourages you to be different. To stand out from the crowd. To think differently. To express yourself in your own way.
“I spent three months designing and creating a signature look that would be instantly recognisable as Elizabeth Christina Design.
“The words I hear most often about it is that it is a ‘work of wearable art’, that’s such a huge compliment and anyone that knows me knows I’m so self-critical I find it hard to take a compliment but I am proud this design will be showcased in London.”
There’s lots more in the pipeline for Tina, her work has also been chosen by Gok Wan to showcase a full millinery collection at his Fashion & Beauty Collective Lunch in Cork on April 22.
“It is truly an honour to be chosen by Gok for the second year running,” said Tina.
“Of course, there are many ladies’ days and weddings but also I am looking at a new studio which I’m hoping will start to come about towards the end of the year.”
We have to ask: is there really a hat to suit everyone?
“Yes. It may not be a hat but certainly there is a headpiece to suit everyone. I think sometimes ladies feel almost under compliment to purchase the hat that has been bought in with the outfit but we must remember we are all different heights, shapes and sizes, so as with clothing we need to try on many different shapes.
“By going to a milliner with your outfit you will get someone who is an expert in their field to design specifically for you. Why is it we all admire Kate Middleton’s headwear so much? It’s because each piece is designed specifically to suit her.”
With that in mind, Tina advises against trends: “Stay away from them. Don’t be afraid to follow your own style. If wide brim hats are in vogue and you don’t have the height to carry them then they are just not suitable for you. Know your style and own it, dare to be different, never follow the crowd.”
For more information see elizabethchristinadesign.com or on Facebook, Elizabeth Christina Design
Meanwhile, two headpieces by a Fermoy milliner will also be among 300 from across the world which will feature in an exhibition at London Hat Week.
Ann Flynn’s two pieces will be part of a Great Hat Exhibition being run in King’s Cross as part of the renowned London Hat Week. It takes place from March 22 to 28.
Ann, who designs and makes hats and headpieces under her Hat Trick label, was delighted when both hats were selected for the exhibition.
One of her pieces drew inspiration from Ireland’s boglands while the second features lace trimming and orchids, which are her trademark flowers in her creations.
It is not the first time her hats have made it to London. In 2013, a client commissioned a hat for a garden party hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. She has recently been approached by a UK fashion agency seeking to have her pieces showcased in London. She will be showcasing her summer collection at the Fashion and Beauty Collective event by Gok Wan and Danielle Mahon in April.
Ann is currently working on headpieces for the spring racing season for clients and is also designing ready-to-wear pieces for wedding guests.
Her range of head pieces can be seen at www.facebook.com/hattrickfermoy, hattrickfermoy on instagram, and Crafty Reporter on Twitter.