A number of local milliners will feature in a new six-part series about hat making which begins on IRISH TV tonight. Galway women Cathriona King, Gillian Duggan, and Suzie Mahoney are just some of the big names in the industry to be interviewed for the The Hat Show. The Galway episode, which was filmed in the g Hotel, will air in a fortnight’s time.
The programme is the brainchild of producer and presenter Emily O’Donnell, who decided it was time that talented Irish milliners got some recognition for their hard work. Millinery is an area which has exploded in popularity in recent years due to the large number of Ladies Day racing events.
Emily O’Donnell says she really enjoyed meeting those with a creative eye for hat design. “The show is basically to promote the industry. Kate Middleton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Lady Gaga are just a few famous names that have supported Irish hat designers in recent years. Indeed Galway’s Fiona Mangan made a piece for Zara Phillips, which she wore at Royal Ascot. I wanted to meet these world class milliners, as it is important that they get as many platforms as possible to showcase their work. Millinery can be a solitary job - in that you generally tend to work alone - so it was lovely to get all these talented ladies together for afternoon tea in the g Hotel during the Galway programme. It was lovely as well as they are all very supportive of each other.”
She says she has been blown away by the work she has seen during the course of filming. “When I started making the programme, people were saying to me there are hardly any milliners in Ireland because they might only be familiar with the two or three big names in the industry, but there is a wealth of talent around, and particularly in Galway due to the Galway Races. I met people from all walks of life - of different ages with different stories. They showcase their work and we talk about their amazing work and the famous people that wear the hats.”
The presenter believes millinery is enjoying such a renaissance at the moment because people are buying into the glamourous images being circulated in the media of women looking amazing at race days. “It is buying a little piece of decadence really. It is an indulgent purchase - and possibly the only time a woman will buy something that is custom made for her. Another thing I love about hats and headpieces is they will look equally as well on all shapes, sizes, and ages. A hat is for life, it can be pulled out again and again and passed on to others for their enjoyment also.”
Ms O’Donnell nominates a little known Galway milliner who she believes is one to watch in the industry. “There is a girl called Michelle Kerins making hats in Tuam. She studied architecture and has not been doing it that long but I think her work is amazing. All the milliners had to showcase pieces for the programme, and her stuff just blew me away, it is so different. For somebody who is only working in millinery for such a short space of time, the reaction to her pieces has been huge.”
The first episode of The Hat Show airs at 8.30pm this evening on IRISH TV, which can be viewed on Sky channel 191, all Free to Air boxes, Freesat 400, Eircom’s eVision 191 and online at www.irishtv.ie