The star behind our recent cover shoot head pieces – we take some time out to talk to our favourite milliner!
Welcome to House of Coco Monique!
1) Who inspires you?
Miuccia Prada who I admire for her passion, creativity and dedication to art and philosophy. Frank Gehry who I admire for his fearless attitude to create new forms which are full of energy and imagination. The nature and heritage – I visit historical places and take walks in the countryside every weekend to breathe in fresh air and the beauty of wild living objects. And of course many amazing creative stylists, photographers, artists, designers who I collaborated with or follow on Instagram.
2) On a typical day, how do you start your day?
My cats Pebble and Mousse usually meow at me in bed, then I head down to the kitchen to enjoy a nice breakfast with my husband in our cosy 19th century cottage in the countryside. Then I begin my busy day working full-time as a programme leader for MBA International Fashion Management course at Coventry University London Campus and make hats after work.
3) If you could use a time machine for one day – which fashion era would you go back to?
I would like to travel to the future to see what people are like and the environment they live in as I am always up for a good adventure and the idea of witnessing human evolution fascinates me.
4) You are stranded on a desert – 5 essentials that you need in your bag – name them.
Coconut water, a book, a notebook, binoculars, and a magic whistle to call a camel to show me around.
5) If you could dress one person, who would it be? And why?
I would love to dress Tilda Swinton and have her involved in the creation of hats for her to wear. Hats are very personal accessories, it would be wonderful to see Tilda wearing my designs which compliment her personality and characters.
6) Name three places on your bucket list that you need to visit?
Traveling is the food of my soul and creativity, I have travelled to 24 countries in the past and would love to visit Iceland, Denmark and my hometown Taiwan this year.
7) Tell me about your fashion history, where you began…
To become an architect like my dad was my dream when I was little. I did not do very well in mathematics and physics, therefore I chose fashion design which also allows me to adapt different materials and to construct 3D structures. I graduated from London College of
Fashion received a MA degree in Fashion Design and Technology in 2006. After that I worked for various organisations as designer, researcher, creative director, PR, consultant in Taiwan, China and UK.
In 2009, I decided to move back to England to pursue a PhD degree to research on international design collaboration, design innovation and consumer preference. In 2013, I decided to make hats when I have spare time from research and teaching at University. I started making hats on the floor of my living room watching YouTube videos to learn the basics. I have never attended any millinery workshops, so I have been creating hats using unconventional ways and experimental techniques. And I was lucky to have my hats featured in many wonderful publications such as Vouge, Tatler, L’Officiel and the awesome House of Coco!
Since the launch of Monique Lee Millinery, I have had the pleasure to collaborate with over 100 very talented people in the fashion industry on various projects. I realised that these people are either not getting paid, or being paid very little for their creative work. I decided to launch X Terrace Fashion Platform in 2014 where we provide paid collaboration opportunities for Europe based talents to work with Asian fashion clients. I am in the progress of developing an app for the talents, stay tuned with us via @xterrace on twitter or Instagram.
I have had the honour to curate and to organise the 2nd London Hat Week exhibition last year, and I am currently planning this year’s exhibition and a presentation in October. The theme will be “Artisan x Milliner” where we celebrate the beauty of collaboration between hat designers and artists who inspired or help them to create. I will be showing hats which I made for a fashion film and various editorials. You are welcome to visit the exhibition to see over 100 amazing hats made by milliners around the world!
To see hat making behind the scene, please visit Monique Lee Millinery on:
Twitter/ Instagram/ Tumblr: @mlmhats
Google+/ Facebook/ Pinterest: Monique Lee Millinery
Monique thank you for taking the time to speak to us! we look forward to seeing your magnificent pieces and future collaborations!