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Irene Bussemaker
Irene BussemakerMilliner

How did you become interested in millinery?

I’ve always adored the power of hats because they can change the appearance of the person, wearing it in seconds. There’s nothing else that has this instant power. Changing them not only on the outside but on the inside as well.

Where and why did you learn millinery?

Art Academy department Fashion Design, Maastricht; Hanna Hnickova (Czechoslovakian) milliner; work experience, Philip Treacy, London.

How long have you been a milliner for? Where else have you work?

I graduated in 1993 at the Academy for Visual Arts in Maastricht and went to seek for professional milliners who could teach me the old craftsmanship. These milliners are very hard to find in the Netherlands. After some time I met Hanna Hnickova, a Czechoslovakian lady; she began to teach me. I had learned a whole lot on my training period with Philip Treacy in London, but Hanna was kind enough to teach me; sometimes I even took private lessons.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

I have had a bit of a problem working with themes. I need a lot of freedom to create. So for me it is difficult to send in hats for contests, as there’s always a theme. Themes like contrast (atelier musee du chapeau, chazelle-sur-lyon), being such a broad theme, made it possible for me to create without losing my freedom, which is very important to me. But I can find inspiration in all kind of things around me, nature naturally is one of them.

What has been your most enjoyable commission?

The most enjoyable commissions are the one you give yourself. Give yourself space and freedom to create whatever comes to your mind. No restrictions, restrictions kill my creativity.

How would you describe your style of hats?

My vision is this: I believe that a good designer should develop oneself creatively without letting other people decide what they think you should create. There is only one “you” and each individual is unique, let people see who you are. I’m always experimenting with new shapes, or changing the appearance of a material.

Who do you make hats for?

I don’t make hats intentionally for special occasions, I just make hats and then the costumer decides when and where they wish to wear my hats. I divide my work into three categories when they are finished. Darebles (for those who dare), Wearables (easy to wear) and Lovebles (brides).

What materials and techniques do you favor?

I love to work with all kinds of materials; I once even worked with plastic. But hairfelt I love to use because it’s so playable you can make all kinds of shapes. I’m a material freak; I use leather, fabric, crystals, feathers, braids, etc.

Any other interests?

Too much for one life. I love photography, styling, theater, animals and exotic cooking.

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