Charlotte Pacelli (Primp My Costume) - This month we are celebrating the Pride protest and have been speaking with successful LGBTQ milliner Christopher Garner. Having also worked as drag artiste Madame Mumu, Chris has moved to create award winning collections of luxurious handmade headwear and today shares tips from both worlds.
SILVER TRIMMINGS & HEADDRESSES
CP: Chris you are fast becoming my most famous friend, being featured in Vogue, having both celebrities sporting your headwear annually at Royal Ascot and more recently, with Autumn Phillips sporting one of your pieces on the balcony for Trooping of the Colour. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come from our first backstage conversations all those years back, where you’d share with me how nervous you were to quit your job in Harrods to pursue your millinery dreams! We’re going to start with some questions regarding your fabulous on-stage career. When you began performing in drag, was there a particular costume item that you desperately wanted and do you own one yet?
CG: The short answer would be that I'm a perfectionist so not yet! When I first started performing in drag I didn't want a costume, I wanted to be able to make my own. I am still not there with creating my own patterns but I have had fun. I’ve included a photo with an example of a dress that I created to perform in.
CP: I’ve always been impressed with the fact you managed to create a new outfit every single week. I’ve still got costumes that are over 10 years old (a lot of Febreeze...) You’ve performed alongside a lot of burlesque dancers. Have you seen a costume that has really impressed you? Care to share?
CG: There are two costumes that I really admire but for different reasons. One is from Amber Topaz and the other is Jeanie Wishes. My favorite costume of Amber Topaz's is a black structured teddy (corseted) with the most gorgeous silver trimmings on the front. The moment she puts it on you can tell she’s in control and ready to perform and perform she does. Jeanie Wishes owns a blue Catherine D'Lish gown, which she wears so well with blue jewelled lingerie and bright red stockings, boa and then her glam hair. For me, she just looks so beautiful and feminine in it. I suppose a Catherine D'Lish gown would be a costume I have always wanted but don't have.
CP: If I had a D’lish gown, I think I’d wear it at every opportunity. Doing the ironing, popping to Poundland for toilet roll, that kind of thing. Moving on to your new ventures. Now that you’ve built your own successful millinery company, have you had any unusual requests for particular pieces from clients?
CG: The unusual requests have always been there, from a bear eating a fish hat, a hat that can stay on the head whilst the dancer split leaps across the stage to a hat that collapses and becomes two. For me, the most unusual are the people who ask for it for free.
CP: Holler. Bet they said it’d be “great exposure”. On another note, I need a bear eating a fish hat immediately. I love browsing your website and looking at your imaginative creations. I especially love the set of pieces you made by recycling old hats. What has inspired your latest collection?
CG: My latest mood is inspired by Pride. As I become older I feel like I need to be more of an activist and supporter of my community.
CP: The Pride Halo design that you have is so gorgeous. I think I spotted it on ITV’s Charlotte Hawkins at London Pride. Have you noticed any celebrities that really get it right with their headwear?
CG: This a tough one as I see a lot that get it wrong. Every time I see Carmen Dell-Orefice in a hat, I think she looks absolutely breath-taking. She is lucky to have the perfect face to wear virtually any hat. I doubt I will ever have the pleasure to dress her head but that would be (excuse my French) f***ing awesome! Another would be Francesca Cumani. She is an absolute goddess! The other photo I’ve included shows her wearing a hat I’ve created for her. There's also Kerry Washington, who really wears that hat and doesn't let it wear her. Finally, dare I say it but Melania...I can't write her surname...wears a hat very well.
CP: Thanks so much Chris. If anyone is in need of a wedding hat, Julian Garner Headwear is definitely worth a look!
THANKS TO OUR GUESTS
Thanks to Charlotte Pacelli and Christopher Garner for taking their valuable time to share some insights into the world of silver trimmings and headdresses. For more information or to follow them on social media, see below.
OUR COLLECTION OF TRIMMINGS
@JulianGarnerHeadwear/ visit JulianGarner.com for details on new collections
Interview by Charlotte Pacelli (Liberty
- Director of costume makeover service
@primpmycostume (IG/ Twitter/ Facebook) / co-founder of London’s leading
Burlesque Troupe @thefollymixtures/ original Hurly Burly Girly for