Sandy Aslett, or Sandy A as known by her fashionable fans[/caption]
We understand you were passionate about fashion from a very young age, and had a long fulfilling career in dressmaking and retail. How did you transition to millinery?
Initially, my love of fashion led into a position of manager for Jeanswest, which made me realise I had the potential to create my own business from scratch, and so Toucans Fashion was born in Bundaberg. After many successful years, a career change called. From there I moved into education and training, bringing industry and education together working on projects within both industries. Finally, here on the Sunshine Coast I rediscovered the passion for fashion and let my creative juices run wild. The love of creative freedom and the client satisfaction continues to drive me to experiment with different mediums in millinery everyday.
How and where do you source your fabrics and materials for your gorgeous headpieces?
I often travel overseas to source materials and embellishments for a unique feel and it has taken a number of years to establish a group of trusted suppliers. I’m always looking for quirky and different materials and my husband always says, ‘You can look at a barb wire fence and create something out of nothing’.
What era do you take most inspiration from?
My inspiration is from the ‘40s and ‘50s, when millinery was a part of everyday life. The work of Madame Paulette through these years may not be well known for those outside millinery but it has made a big impression on my career.
What has been the most flamboyant headpiece you have created?
A very large bright orange curled and shaped feathered headpiece that was presented on the front cover of the Ladies in Racing magazine and worn by then-local model Monique Parry.
You’ve won countless fashions on the field and millinery prizes, which award are you most proud of?
Without hesitation I would say winning the 2018 Overall HATalk Competition In London, of which there were 177 entries from all over the globe. This designer headwear is called Cosmic Concertina (pictured right) and was entered in the modern category. This state-of-the-art headpiece has been gilded with pleated concertina circles and feathered to form a voguish interpretation of an age-old squeezebox. The delicate bellow formation of waxed paper trimmed in gold with hand cut and shaped feather highlights with pearl beaded eyes presents as a futuristic and edgy design with a hint of the past.
you recently attended London Hat Week,
tell us about that experience
Great Britain was traditionally the centre of the millinery world and it was incredible to meet with artisans from all professions who are supremely talented and the last of their kind in the profession. I mostly saw the art of block making, skilled handmade silk flowers and millinery at work. All these skills are disappearing in this modern age.
What are your fashion predictions for this year’s spring racing season?
Ooh! Well the style heroes for this spring racing season will be pastels in lemon, blue, lavender and pink, which allow you to explore and experiment with more colours for your millinery designs. Also, floating elegant florals showing a vibrant breath of fresh air will be in the mix. Millinery will take its place in my spring/summer trending report with large stylish Dior brims, swooping smaller saucer designer headwear and for the mature lady, the latest in sophisticated smaller pillboxes. These will take centre stage in women’s fashion, trimmed with vintage veiling and a simple but elegant touch of class.
What is your top tip for ladies attending race meets this season?
In my opinion, it can be simple yet classic and elegant, sometimes too many elements are included and they detract from the look. Keep your individuality and you don’t need all the bells and whistles to be a winner. Wear it like you mean it with a spring in your step and a cheeky smile!
What should women look for when finding a headpiece that suits them?
They should look for a well-made headpiece that complements their outfit. The design and style should fit the head and be comfortable to last the distance.
There are plenty of rules around race day fashion. What’s your number one rule of race day dressing?
If you are looking to stand out, my advice is to focus on a total look and the chosen millinery is the key to unlock the overall appearance – head-to-toe!