The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Interview with Karen Henriksen

So from St James' over to Lincoln's Inn to Cockpit Studios to meet Karen Henriksen. I have been fortunate to meet Karen before at one of the Origin events, one of the venues where she promotes her collection, and use her book 'Fashion Hats' often within my lessons.

I hadn't realised until we began talking that she had undertaken her Foundation Art Course at Leeds College of Art, as she was originally from Harewood. From there she went to Birmingham University to study fashion, where she soon realised that hats were her raison d'etre, as she added six hats to her final collection of six garments. What's fascinating is again how people find their calling to millinery. Karen worked at Mitzi Lorenz managing the workroom, then after the label was closed, she moved to Frederick Fox where she finally was able to make and design hats.

Karen stated that her work really came into its onw and she found her direction when studying for her Masters at RCA, as can be seen from the first image of the sou wester. Whilst in her first year she won the Hat Designer of the Year award using Aquascutum fabric, then the triumph of her final 'Windswept' collection to complete her MA.

We talked about inspiration and where that begins, Karen noting how in hindsight the deadlines in college were such a luxury and that the design process rarely follows such strict guidelines, drawing and sketching ideas on her commute to the studio and when really busy, designing new patterns gives her perspective on what to do next. Karen's quiet and structured creations are in demand in Japan where she has an agent to sell her work and equally her couture collection is also much lauded by royalty. Zara Phillips had worn one of her pieces at one of the Queen's Jubilee events.

Zara Phillips in Karen Henriksen headwear
Karen's studio is a fascinating Aladdin's cave containing all the requirements for stunning millinery and patterns to create her inspirational cut & sew pieces. I left very determined to do some more flat pattern hats.

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