Milliner: Zandra Eastwood
Location: Melbourne, Australia
How did you become interested in millinery?
Interestingly, I fell into the industry quite by chance! Amusingly, I always thought I'd become an actress, as I sometimes have a flair for the dramatic. However, I unintentionally applied for a Junior Bridal Millinery position at 18 and since then I have learnt nearly every technique known thanks to the ever changing fashion trends over the last 11 years. I come from an extraordinarily talented family, so pursuing a career with my hands and creative mind was never not an option!
Where and why did you learn millinery?
Luckily for me I was paid to learn in a career I loved and I learnt and applied every technique very quickly progressing to head milliner! When I initially started millinery in the bridal industry, floral halos and enormous princess tiaras were the fashion, but over the years fascinators, cocktail hats and feather jewel combs evolved again, so I've seen many various fashions come and go.
How long have you been a milliner for?
I'd mainly been a design milliner for 10 years, but before launching my own label I also worked with the same designer label over the years as Head Buyer, Production Manager, National Sales Representative and I'm sure a great deal more! I've also been very lucky to travel Australia wide and work exclusively with many leading couture fashion designers, creating a look perfected to their clientele. Aside from millinery I also trained in couture jewellery design, so have an extensive collection of beautiful Swarovski pieces ranging from earrings, bracelets, necklaces, to bandeaus and tiaras that have been personally designed.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I'm mostly influenced by the French glamour of the 40s and I love the bygone era where women truly dressed like women: feminine, sensuous and undeniably sexy. However, I may also be working on two designs when the inspiration comes and I mix them together; voila! I definitely derive inspiration from the beauty of nature, but I do also design some hats with a modern twist. Exotic feathers, beautiful flowers and gorgeous luxurious fabrics are what motivates me. Each hat needs to be sensational and I never design something I wouldn't wear myself.
What has been your most enjoyable commission?
My most enjoyable commissions this year so far has been for the racing ladies of Ascot, where we do consultations via email as it can be quite challenging. I'm flattered when people contact me from six continents away and specifically ask me to commission a special design and they absolutely trust me to go ahead with it! Most recent though was a gorgeous bride from England, who sent me pictures of her beautiful day immediately after her honeymoon and thanked me for making her look so beautiful. That kind of appreciation makes millinery design so worthwhile!
Who do you make hats for?
Aside from retailers, my largest commissions are race day and bridal wear worldwide.
What materials and techniques do you favor?
I have an absolute passion for feathers and there are so many versatile ways they can be shaped, manicured and curled! I have the utmost respect for birds and their plumage is just glorious! I also love amazing trims, but interestingly I haven't managed to work much with sinamay this year, as I've had numerous requests for large accessorizing features on small cocktail bases, but have a few sensational shapes in mind, so keep an eye out!
Any other interests?
Gourmet cooking, fine wine, royal history, French history, learning Irish Gaelic, traveling and naturally my wonderful family and friends!