Karyn Gingras
Karyn GingrasMilliner

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How did you become interested in millinery?

I kind of fell into it. I went to sign up for a tap dancing class and it was full, so, since I was into vintage clothing and hats, I thought I would take a millinery class. That was almost 20 years ago. I never learned how to tap dance!

Where and why did you learn millinery?

I am self thought.

How long have you been a milliner for?

I have a social work background. I also waited tables in a punk rock bar and a comedy club, and sold bath and body products. I have been working as a milliner for about 18 years.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

I am inspired by the hat blocks themselves, and the unique way that raw materials react or repel against the wood. I also love old films, especially 1940s. And I love architecture, especially the sculptures of Henry Moore and the designs of Canadian architect Frank Gehry.

What has been your most enjoyable commission?

Oh, there are so many! I have a core group of fascinating and fashion forward clients. They give me total artistic license, which can actually be limiting at times. I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes a client’s limitations can also be the most interesting challenges.

I am also redesigning the headware for the female Air Canada pilots which is a great honour. Oh, and of course, a birthday hat for a very special lady who turned 80!

How would you describe your style of hats?

Modern, with certainly vintage inspiration. Organic, thoughtful.

Who do you make hats for?

I make both casual and dress hats for church/synagogue goers, brides, guys, theatre. I say yes to everything except requests for baseball caps.

What materials and techniques do you favor?

Felt, straw and luxurious cashmeres.

Any other interests?

I am training for my first marathon. Some of my best ideas come from being in the running “zone”. I love architecture and great food. I also read a lot. Oh, and a good belly laugh everyday is key!