News

How Stuff is Made - Velvet!

Velvet!  It's my latest wintery crush!  The Borealis winter scarf collection is built upon it!

 Here's the Borealis silk velvet scarf in black, grey and ivory.  Completely lush and made by moi!

And more velvet porn below.  Yum!

 

 

 

 

So...of course I always love to know how stuff is made.

Wanna watch a corporate YouTube video that shows you how velvet is made and has an easy-listening soundtrack and some great care tips!  What's not to love!?  

Essentially, on a complicated loom, the velvet factory basically makes a "mattress" of two horizontal fabric layers with millions of vertical threads that stretching and loop in between.  Then they slice it in half with a knife and lo! - two layers of velvet are born!  

But those weaving machines are complex!  Take a look.  Watch out for your fingers!!

Click on through..

Most images from Pinterest, except for my Borealis scarf featured in the top one!

Chanel Cruising in Cuba - Viva La Revolución!

                

You can almost feel the night air.  The smell of a beautiful evening and the anticipation of what will follow.  While Havana's Paseo del Prado looks strangely empty, I can't help but respect the design, the thought and the work that goes into creating fashion like this.  It's not couture, but it's beautiful and accessible, at least in style.

So here are my top picks from Chanel and Karl as they cruise around in Havana.  Beautiful accessories, wearable fashion and flats.  Flats = thank God.  I've always loved flats with skirts and the way women look when they can actually walk.  

And for the finishing touch, classic panama-style hats and an assortment of berets and headbands are paired with just about everything.  Hats = the ultimate accessory!

Viva la revolución!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if you want to listen to the beautiful French- Cuban fusion sounds at the start or spend 20 minutes to view the whole thing in cruise motion, then pour yourself a dark rum on ice, click through here and enjoy! 

 

What are you really buying?

"When you buy something from an artist, you're buying more than an object.  You're buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation.  You're buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy.  You're not buying just one thing;  you're buying a piece of a soul ...a small piece of someone else's life."

 

 

Artisan, Artist or Craftsperson - if you are not someone who makes things with their head and their heart and their hands, then you may not have ever given all this much thought.  

But for people who strive to create art or products or goods based on an original idea that sparks up in their mind, or a long-history of traditional skills and the gradual learning and refinement of historical skills, this will all ring so true.  

For creative types and creators, my feeling is that the receptiveness to your craft never turns off.  The more you do it, the more creative you become.  Of course - it's the practice of creativity.  The more you let your mind dream up ideas and think them through, then the more these ideas bubble up and you are itching to try them all.  Every day brings a flow of impressions, colours, lines, shapes, thoughts - a multitude of moments where inspiration strikes.   

 

But there's a reality to working as an artisan.  We have to decide which ideas are worthy of investing our time.  Which ones do we have a significant likelihood of actually pulling off in reality?  And are we operating in a zone of commercial-reality?  Will this product ever sell and can we make it for a realistic price?  Can we access the materials that we envisage?  And do we know how to use the materials?   Or do we have start a process of experimentation - for days or weeks or months?  That can be really costly when it doesn't work out!  

It's the inspiration that keeps you going at such times.  The inspiration and the vision in your head drives it all.   

As a hatmaker, for me that motivation is all about beauty and the Cinderella moment - the moment when someone tries on the hat that you have designed and created and they see that they are transformed.  I guess it's an advanced case of the Fairy Godmother Syndrome.

We all buy on price to some degree or another - we have to of course. In a world that churns out so many products that bring no beauty and precious little function, I'm keen to support the creators!  

So to those who can and do buy any product of original creation or hand-made effort - no matter what it is - I hope you recognise the full breadth of what you are really supporting.  And thank you from one of the creators! 

 

 

Travels with my hat - Art Deco glories of the new Primus Hotel in Sydney

 

 

So this last weekend, I had the good fortune to visit the new 5-star Primus Hotel at 339 Pitt Street, Sydney City.  Located close to Chinatown, the Primus building used to house the government offices of the Sydney Water Board, and the imposing facade remains much as it was.  You can't tell too much from street side.  

But step inside and she has transformed.  

 

 

Retaining a glorious scale throughout the hotel foyer, the high ceilings and pared-back interiors let the Art Deco lines, architecture and materials shine through.  What a beauty.  Red and pink-mushroom velvet upholstery compliments the imposing columns of red marble.  They are enormous and I don't know whether it would actually be possible to still source such magnificent marble in the present day.  

The open-plan Wilmot restaurant under Executive Chef, Ryan Hong, looked superb but not fussy - who can be bothered with fuss anymore?  And the foyer bar was inviting with the elegant but relaxed and personal feel of an old-school gentleman's club.  They'll be starting High Tea in April apparently too. 

 

The thing is, there weren't many people there and I don't think Sydney really knows about it...yet.  News of the Primus has just hit the pages of the Qantas InFlight Magazine, so maybe that's about to change.

However, in my opinion, the best part about this hotel lies up on the 7th floor.  The stunning pool, bar and outdoor lounge have way-usurped the Ivy for poolside glamour in Sydney.  

  

 With touches of green foliage, flowing water and those little mosaic tiles in the perfect range of blues, this area is part Palm Beach and part Bali on a perfect day.  

   

The poolside menu, the service and the experience of the whole day were spot on.  The Virgin Mojito was to die for and I've never said that about a virgin before.  And the Club Sandwich with smoky tomato sauce and fries were unbeatable.  

Heaven is on the 7th floor of the Primus.  Get there.  

 

 

February - original hat designs and experiments

 

 

After January slips through my fingers, suddenly it's February.  

And that means it's time to let my mind wander around the beguiling subject of designing new hats for the year ahead and beyond.  What will I do?  What will I make in 2016?

It's a different state of mind - it's not sensible or business-like (that comes later).  But once I start to think of hat designs, then so many possibilities and variations come to mind.  They always do.  There are never any shortage of ideas.  

People often suggest to me that I look at the work of other milliner's or look at what else is in the store, but I find that a risky thing to do.  Once you've seen it, it can influence you way too much and you loose the originality of your own style and designs.  I prefer to set my mind to "DREAM" and see what happens.

I love this time and could happily live in a dreamy design world everyday.  

Stay shady. Stay watching.

 

The Sumptuous Supporting Cast - behind-the-scenes

For the interiors shots in Monty's Shack at Coaster's Retreat, I was beyond delighted to be able to use a suite of divine products to create that tropicana-luxe feel that makes the perfect lifestyle setting for my summer hats.

With thanks to the beautiful and talented people behind Homeworks Design (for the retro tropical cushions), Goss Lingerie (for the white lace robe), Olsen Design (for the interior screen using "The Great Shalimar" fabric) and Bethany Linz (designer of the Great Shalimar fabric) for their kindness in lending me their beautiful products for my photo shoot.

 

 

 

That's all!  With a smile,

Shooting Summer - behind-the-scenes

Here's my behind-the-scenes pictorial of the photo shoots for the Carolyn Unwin High Summer 2015 collection of summer hats.  

Just to make things far more complex than they probably needed to be, I ended up doing two photo shoots in two of my favourite locations - Cremorne Point, Sydney and Coaster's Retreat off Palm Beach in Sydney.  

The Cremorne Point shoot allowed me to capture all the wonderful angles and reflective surfaces of the new ferry pontoon with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House often popping up in the background.   And as you can tell from the grin on my face, it was fun!

 

Goofing around in the new Diablo Henley.

 

Loving that iconic Harbour Bridge & Diablo Henley.  

 

Now I see what I look like from behind.  With a design that didn't make the final cut.

 

And the Coaster's Retreat shoot, revisited the site of last years shoot, capturing the unique Australian beauty, light and colour of Australia's Pittwater.

Papped.

 

Breather.

 

Going walkabout.

 

Critical infrastructure in the romantic light of sunset.

With thanks to Brittney Bloomer, Simon Kenny, Maurice Parker and Peter Girdis for making it all possible.