London Hat Week – Interview with David Dunkley by Megan Hughes

April 10, 2019

Watch the full interview

Q: David, welcome back from London Hat Week. How was it?

DDFM: Oh my gosh, it was amazing. I can’t believe that I was included, I was so honoured to be included. I thought that it was really a dream come true for me.

Q: That’s fantastic. How did it feel to be so honoured, and displayed among so many other fine milliners?

DDFM: Well there were 200 milliners from all over the world. The first part of London Hat Week was World Garden, as it was called, and my Royal Rose, which is a David Dunkley Fine Millinery favourite, was chosen, with its beautiful feather extravaganza coming out from behind it. It was amazing to see the colours that were included in the show, and to see my work as part of the wonderful kaleidoscope.

Q: What was the most memorable moment, would you say? The most exciting thing that you saw or did while you were there?

DDFM: When I think of a question like that, I like to answer with the first thing that comes to mind. I think my most memorable moment was, there were a couple of occasions where we were at different cocktail parties, and I thought it was amazing to be in a room full of talented people from all over the world. It was the first time I’ve ever been in a room with two hundred hatmakers, and it was an incredibly nerdy thing, but also an incredibly rewarding moment.

Q: Tell me about the hat that you created to wear at the event…

DDFM: Thanks for asking. The hat I created was a vintage top hat. I have a mentor here in Toronto that taught me how to restore them, so I wanted to make something, if I can back up, that honours all of the teachers that I’ve had over the years. And I also wanted to do what I was best at, and now wasn’t the time to reinvent or do something new. So, I opted to restore a top hat, a miniature one. Barbara Hobbs taught me how to do that. I opted to put flowers on top of the hat. Rose Cory, the Royal Milliner who I am famously attached to, taught me how to make those roses, so I wanted to honour her and her teachers. Feathers were on the hat as well, and I’ve had many teachers over the years who have taught me to work with feathers. They are one of my favourite things to work with, so I had to have those included. And then I had bunting, which was from a dear friend of mine, Margaret Donnelly. She introduced me to the Royal Milliner, and I’ve travelled a couple of times to London with her. Her mother purchased the bunting in 1953, in tribute to Her Majesty’s coronation. So, I wanted to pay tribute to all of those people, and put all of them together and wear them, so that’s what I wore.

Q: I wonder what type of inspiration you might have come away with, after seeing so many milliners’ work, and of course the Dior show, which I know that you saw in London. Is there anything that you came away dreaming about?

DDFM: Well the Dior show was phenomenal because it spanned the entire history of Dior, not just one time period. It included some of the designers who have picked up the torch of his calling, I guess. I don’t think you can really explain how beautiful Dior is. I mean, he changed the world, and his work is still influencing us today. So to be standing in front of the original pieces, and to be in London, and in London during Hat Week, and then to be inspired by the hats, the accessories, the garments, the techniques…you know I could go on and on for hours. But it was a wonderful, nerdy fashion moment.

Q: Do you think that any of your next collection will reflect some of the inspiration you picked up while you were at London Hat Week?

DDFM: Well that’s a very good, shameless question, so thank you very much. I will shamelessly say that I am including some of those inspirations in the collection that I’m creating for the Toronto Botanical Garden this year, as their Master Milliner.

Q: And when will that be?

DDFM: Well I’m not going to reveal too much, but more news is coming, I promise you.

Q: Was there anything that really tweaked your interest at Hat Week that you must include in your upcoming collections?

DDFM: I will say, for the moment, that my race hat collection for the Queen’s Plate, and my collection for the Royal Botanical Garden, those two couture collections were absolutely cemented and sketched out, actually, while I was sitting in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Q: How lovely! Well I think we all look forward to seeing those, David. I think you’re pretty excited for the season coming up, too. And so you’ll be at the Queen’s Plate again this year as well?

DDFM: Yes, I’m the Official Milliner to the Queen’s Plate this year, and the Master Milliner to the Blossom Party at the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Q: These are going to be great events, and as always people can still come in and ask you for custom work, even though you are so busy?

DDFM: Oh yes! It’s all about custom. It’s all about coming into the hat shop and purchasing either direct off the shelf, or indulging me in the pleasure of creating for you.

Q: Amazing. Thank you so much, David. I look forward to checking out what’s new in your shop, as often as I can. It’s always a wonderland in here, and you’ve always got something going on.

DDFM: Thank you, Ms. Megan, you’re the best.


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