Deidre Hawken makes what might loosely be called hats or head pieces. However that description does not do justice to the exquisite intricate pieces of work created by this multi talented designer. I and my photographer went to interview her recently in her studio.
JB.I know you as a hat designer and maker, but I understand that you also design and make jewelry. Can you tell us which discipline you trained in and how you came to practice both?
DH I trained in theater design, sets and costume, at the Central School of Art and Design, now Central St Martins.
I worked as a Theater Designer for some time and I was an Art Director for a couple of design companies, but I have always loved the design and making process. I have made costume accessories for The Royal Opera House, English National Ballet and the BBC, I also designed a run of windows for Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and made props for Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asprey Ltd and I had an exhibition in Fortnum and Mason among others, and I created collections of jewellery with my sculptor husband for various fashion designers.
JB.What is a typical day for you?
DH. There is no typical day! I could be designing hats or jewellery or researching new work, seeing a client or dealing with boring administration.
JB. What do you love most, about what you do?
DH.I love researching ideas, it is now so easy on the internet, and as I said I love everything about the making process, especially dyeing fabrics.
JB.What do you dislike most about what you do?
DH Any kind of administration.
JB.Have you ever worked for anyone else? Or done any collaborations ? If so with whom?
DH.When you are a designer for the theater you’re basically working with and for the director, but I have been a freelance designer most of my life. I did collaborate with a jeweler, we were asked to make a joint piece, but I did not really enjoy the experience. I have also made jewellery with my husband.
JB.What made you want to start your own creative business?
DH. I love working for myself, although I sometimes have an assistant on a really big job, such as when I made jewellery for Saks 5th Avenue.
JB.Have you had any training recently? If so where and why?
DH.Not recently, but in 1998 I won a scholarship to study couture millinery. This was through QEST, Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. There are no age limits and but you do have to fill in a very difficult application form. I trained with Rose Cory in Couture Millinery and had an internship with Stephen Jones. I also went to America and studied at the Met.
JB.Can you describe your creative process?
DH.First I have an idea, then I research, choose the materials. I only work with a few materials, leather, silk taffeta, silk velvet silk organza and organdie. I dye all the fabrics myself using Dylon dyes. I then decide how to make the headpiece or perhaps a collection of jewellery. Most of my headpieces are one off designs. I never make another piece exactly the same.
JB.What are your biggest challenges?
JB. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field today?
DH.It has always been difficult to be self-employed, especially in the Creative Sector, I believe good training is essential, also you must have self belief.
JB.Compared with when you started, do you think it is easier for designers to set up on their own nowadays or more difficult?
DH.I think it is harder, as everyone thinks they can be an artist or a designer.
JB.Have you exhibited? If so, where?
DH. I have had so many exhibitions it is hard to choose which ones to talk about. I have work in the following Public Collections: Victoria and Albert Museum – London, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Costume Institute – New York, Kyoto Institute of Costume – Tokyo, Graves Art Gallery– Sheffield, Museum of Costume –Bath, Philadelphia Museum of Art-USA, Hat Museum- Stockport.
JB.How do you find clients?
DH. Clients come to me and I sell at exhibitions.
JB. What are you currently working on?
DH.A very tricky Summer Pudding Headpiece for submission for the London Hat Show early 2018.
JB.Do you teach or run workshops? If so where?
DH. Not now! I have taught at various Art colleges and was an assessor for the BA Jewellery course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and design, Dundee for three years. I have given many talks including one at the V &A and many workshops all over the country.
JB.What is next?
DH. I am developing a range of headpieces which can be displayed as Still Life’s in acrylic cases, which I am finding very exciting.
JB. That is a great idea, your work is far too lovely to store out of site, in a hat box.
Many thanks Juliet