Thursday 22 March 2018

Modern millinery - it's all thanks to Kate Middleton

Top, €700, Simone Rocha, Havana. Hat, €435, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery
Top, €700, Simone Rocha, Havana. Hat, €435, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery
Dress, €49.95, Zara. Hat, €435, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery. Cuff, €125, made to order, Capulet & Montague, Atelier 27
Hat, €395, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery
Hat, €435, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery
Hat, €365, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery
Top, €45, Mango. Skirt, €245, Colin Horgan, Atelier 27. Runners, €63, Nike, Champion Sports. Hat, €495, made to order, Martha Lynn Millinery

Constance Harris

'Kate Middleton has done a lot for millinery. She has made it way more trendy for younger women to wear a hat. It has become the ultimate accessory," milliner, Martha Lynn, tells me. We meet in her Baggot Street studio, which she shares with costume-jewellery designer, Merle O'Grady, and home-accessories designer, Jenny Walsh.

Regular LIFE readers will recall a stunning shoot from last autumn, all about the influence of architecture on fashion; it was styled by Tanya Grimson and photographed by Agata Stoinska. Martha's hats were an integral part of it.

Martha studied at IADT in Dun Laoghaire. She then worked for several years doing visual work for architectural firms, during which time she attended the Grafton Academy's prestigious millinery course. Following stints with the great Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy, she launched her own label four years ago and was instantly identified as a talent.

In 2013, Martha took some time out and travelled in South America. Rejuvenated, she began to experiment with untraditional millinery materials – polystyrene, vinyl and Perspex.

"I love doing hats for occasion wear but – and it is probably my fine-art background in sculpture – I wanted to do something more. Big. That is what excites me. I wanted to push it a little more," she explains.

When I first saw this collection in photographs, I wondered just how wearable her very modern hats would be. But, during my visit to her studio, I realised that Martha was still following the formal lines of good millinery design. It is her use of materials and graphic design that is so modern.

"I love using vinyl – flock – for pattern-creating: squares, grids, rays. I like graphic styles. I love bold contrasts; lines; houndstooth. I love all that," she says. "Thankfully, it is very 'in'."

Martha Lynn Millinery has won serious fans. Nikki Creedon, of Havana, is one. Shelly Corkery, fashion director at Brown Thomas, is another. Shelly invited Martha to take part in their prestigious Irish Designers Create last autumn and, this year, she has given her a three-month pop-up spot on their designer-label-laden first floor, from this month until the end of July.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for someone like me," Martha explains. "People give out about Ireland being small, but it has worked in my favour; people have been unbelievably supportive." Martha also sells online, getting orders for the world's biggest events from as far away as Australia. In 2010, she won Best Dressed Lady at the prestigious Melbourne Cup when she visited as a punter. And, of course, she wore one of her own designs.

"They were all raging someone from Ireland won!" she laughs.


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