With a beaming grin, a boundless chuckle and a bucket-load of eccentric style Michelle Dulce is the perfect canvas for her self-made hearty hats!
Hailing from the Philippines but splitting her time between her homeland and London, this full-time fashionista (take a peek at her blog for proof!) and Manileese milliner offers something a little different. With the Philippines being the source of much of the fashion world’s supply of hat-making materials, Michelle chose to buck the trend for exporting the raw fabrics for manufacture to international fashion hubs and commence design and production from her hometown. With the Mich Dulce brand fast establishing a loyal following, the soulful millinery on offer is the perfect match of style and substance. Counting Adam Ant amongst her fans, Michelle has recently collaborated with the iconic musician on a very special design currently being auctioned with all proceeds going to UNICEF.
i-D Online took five with Michelle to talk veiled pillboxes and Funny Bone hats.
Define your style… Kitsch, kind of 50s, quirky, girly. I never wear trousers. And with something on my head at all times.
When did you start millinery? I actually began my fashion life as a women’s wear designer, I trained at CSM and LCF and interned with Marjan Pejoski and Jessica Ogden. In 2005 I decided to learn how to make hats since I love hats and thought it would be great as a complement to my clothes, but I ended up loving millinery so much that I decided to focus on it. I did courses at Central Saint Martins in Millinery, then did tutoring with Rose Cory who is the Queen’s milliner. I still do classes and private tutoring whenever I have the chance, there’s too much to learn.
What’s your favourite…
…film? Girl Interrupted.
…book? Choke by Chuck Palahniuk.
…song? ‘Oh!’, Sleater-Kinney
…hat? Stephen Jones’s Funny Bone hat. Its my dream hat to own. I tried it on last year at his shop and it pained me to take it off.
If you were a type of headwear what would be you and why? An over-sized pink bow triple the size of my head – I actually own one by Tour De Force. Annoyingly girly and in your face.
Can you tell us about your hat of choice for the following…
…lunch picnicking in the park?
One of my Lolita hats because they are so secure on the head and would never fly off.
…dinner at your favourite restaurant?
My favorite restaurant is <a href=”http://www.thefrazzledcook.com/”>The Frazzled Cook</a> in Manila. I would wear a a veiled pillbox.
I always have to fight the urge to wear a really massive hat just to annoy everyone behind me, but after wearing an Indian feather headdress at Reading Festival last year which everyone tried to knock off my head I’m going to stick to a small fascinator.
Tell us about your relationship with Adam… I met him outside Victoria Station around September last year, he helped me with my bags and he asked me what I did, and I told him I made hats then I asked him what he did and he said “I’m a singer”. We became friends and he showed me his favorite film which is Ridley Scott’s The Duellists and said he wanted the hat in the last scene. When I got back to Manila, I made my version of it and sent it to him as a belated birthday present. Since then he’s been wearing it loads and is wearing it now on his current tour. I’m so pleased he liked it because postage alone cost £180!
Could you explain a little about the UNICEF auction? I was invited by UNICEF Philippines to donate of my hats for UNICEF Auction for Action, which features items donated by Filipino artists and designers for the benefit of children in the Philippines and worldwide. My friend Daphne who is a UNICEF Ambassador said it should be a special one off hat and since I was in London, I had the idea of the mini Adam hat, and decided to ask Adam if he was up for me making a mini version of his to sign and customize. He said yes and even included some of his own things into the lot which is amazing.
Show your support for UNICEF by bidding on the super special Mich Dulce hat here.