We were able to grab Giulia during the Great Hat Exhibition to chat about her work, the hat she had on display, and what’s coming up in her next collection.
Hi Giulia! Tell us about yourself.
My name is Giulia Mio, and I’m an Italian couture milliner based in Leicester. I’ve been doing millinery officially for three years, more or less, but I was taught in Italy in the Academy of Fine Arts. I’m coming not from fashion, but from costume and theatre, so a very unusual background.
Tell us about the hat you have on display here.
My piece is called The Concept of Beauty, and it is inspired by the The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, the most famous painting of the Renaissance. It was part inspired by the Italian Renaissance in itself, but also, I think the strength of Italy is the tradition and the techniques. It was willingly made with a lot of effort, making a lot of small details, a lot of little things that just from up close you can actually appreciate. Although Italy is a very traditional country, really what we know is craftsmanship. So the full idea was not making a commercial hat at all – I don’t think many people would actually wear that hat willingly – but it’s really about, that’s what human beings can achieve, and the Renaissance for me is one of the most interesting times in art. Not because of Italians, but because of the way they approached culture, the way they tried to dig out. They reinvented everything. They had absolutely no clue what they were doing, they just did it. It was just kind of an homage to my country, but also what it represents for me.
Is that something that comes into your work often?
It does. When I define myself as a couture milliner, I mean it in the true sense of it, so everything is completely handmade. The details in the finishing are obsessively detailed and clean. You will never see me use glue anywhere – that’s a no-no in millinery anyway! We get more flexible with time, it’s just that I strive for perfection. It’s mental, I know, but that’s what I like! But it’s very balanced, very artistic, I think timeless.
How does fashion impact you?
I don’t follow fashion much. If there is a colour in trend I don’t like, I won’t use it, or if there is a shape that has been very popular and it’s not my cup of tea, as you say here, I won’t use it as much. I mainly work bespoke, so a customer comes to me and I create it for the customer, with the customer. It’s not commercial whatsoever… that’s why I’m broke, basically!
What kind of hats do you usually create for your clients?
I am very fond of races. I create unusual races hats – not unusual in the sense that they are funny, but unusual in the sense that I design them with my customer. It’s not just that they pick one of my designs and they just change the colour and that’s it. If they say I would like a large boater hat, for example, it could be dyed this way: so I dye the straw, or I dye the material, jewel and make the flowers the colour they want, and “Can we place it here”…. It’s a very interactive combination of skills. Most of the time I agree with my customer, sometimes maybe not, so I kind of tell them in a very nice way! My kind of hats are event hats, although I’ve started to make smaller collections with more wearable hats. I’m enjoying it – I thought it would hate it to be honest! Leicester is not really a posh town, so it happens rarely that someone buys one of my couture hats, but they are liked.
What’s next for you?
I’ve made my first winter collection. I’m trying to downsize a little bit the couture side, but deep inside I’m just a crazy artist who makes hats for a living. My winter collection is based on colours, and that’s the only thing I will say… and I will say also that I love working with feathers, and that’s another thing I will say, and that’s it! I’m going to present it probably late summer, so stay tuned.
If our readers wanted to place an order with you, what should they do?
I have my website, that is www.giuliamiomillinery.com. Usually you can’t buy on my website, you have to get in touch with me because they’re all one off pieces or made to order. I’m part of Herald and Heart in Fulham, so they should be having some of my pieces for Ascot this year. I signed up also for the X-Terrace in Royal Ascot Emporium, so five of my pieces – all couture pieces, so they’re going to be expensive, sorry guys! – they’re going to be there as well, in Kensington.
Images by Rhiannon D’Averc & SteveDotPhoto