Awon Golding photographed by Sabrina Sikora
Excitement, pageantry, imaginative and fabulous – a few words used to describe Royal Ascot, the quintessential event on the Great British calendar where high fashion and millinery dominate. A strict dress code must be adhered to and the midriffs of prepubescent teens donning crop tops are nowhere to be seen on the racecourse grounds. We’ve been marveling at some of the stunning headpiece artistry so far, so we decided to have a chat with talented Milliner Awon Golding, who has been selected by the British Fashion Council and master milliner Stephen Jones to take part in Headonism this September at London Fashion Week.Name: Awon Golding Occupation: Milliner Place of birth: Hong Kong Current residence: London
My mother is from the Tangkhul Naga tribe of North-East India and my father hails from London, England. I was born and raised in Hong Kong, but did stints at a boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas, and university in Newcastle, England. Some of my happiest and most vivid memories are from the years I spent growing up on Lamma Island, a bohemian enclave in Hong Kong. We were one of the first non-chinese families to move there in 1980 when it was little more than a fishing village. I was a skinny, tanned tomboy that liked for nothing more than to run wild in the hills with my friends; I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those experiences.
I work from home so I have to try and be strict about my working hours. I generally try to get up before my boyfriend leaves for work at 7:30am (although he would argue against this I’m sure). As a side effect of working from home I seem to be have formed an addiction to tea so one of the first things I do is make myself a streamy cup. I wait until I start to feel hungry, usually a few hours after waking, before I attack the fridge. I’m very Asian with respects to what I’ll eat at what time of the day i.e. I have no hang ups about curry leftovers for breakfast. As for what I wear I only dress up if I know I have a client coming, or if I’m going out into the civilised world. I love colour so I would slap on some bright trousers or skirt paired with a neutral top and gold jewellery. If I’m staying at home I go for comfort over style every time, so some trackie bottoms and a t-shirt.
I’m a milliner, which means I make and design hats. I embarked upon this career 6 years ago when I moved to London to study millinery. It was a long and winding road to get to where I am now; I’ve been everything from an art gallery assistant to a corporate event organiser, to a Barbie educational game designer. I knew the whole time that I wanted to learn a proper craft, something that I picked up from my fine artist father, it was just a matter of persevering to get to this point.
Awon Golding with master milliner Stephen Jones (L)
I’m inspired by people who make things happen, by this I mean their ability to turn what seems like unconnected ideas and things into incredibly complex, organic systems and objects. This ability to see beyond problems translates into other aspects of life; ‘can-do’ people are generally optimists with really positive outlooks on life. It’s a confidence, drive and vision that I aspire to.
My ideas can come from anything tangible or abstract. I recently designed a collection inspired by the Queen of Bhutan and used everything from temple carvings to bird’s wings as a starting point for the pieces. This couldn’t be more different from the current collection I’m working on which is inspired by nostalgic memories of a holiday I went on to the Amalfi coast over 15 years ago. I find that I need a solid theme as a jumping off point, and then the ideas develop as I research around the subject. Sketching is an integral part of this creative development, and then progresses to making physical variants of the final pieces.
I love being a woman because…we have so many facets. We can be tough and head strong, but also nurturing and loving. I enjoy being different things at different times.
The best piece of advice I would give to another woman is…you’re never too old to try something new. If you have passion and drive you can turn anything into a success.
My concerns about women are…the fact that we are continually held under the thumb of gender-stereotyping and society’s ideals of women-hood. I’m particularly disturbed by the ingrained sexualisation of women in the world, which further entrenches these set backs to our development as equal inhabitants of this world.
I am a ComplexdWoman because my mixed-heritage, third culture upbringing is a big part of my identity. My relatively unique genetic background has given me the confidence to feel good about being different. I enjoy when people enquire about where I’m from or can’t quite place me within a normal ethnic category. I feel an instant camaraderie with other people of mixed heritage, regardless of whether it’s the same mix as mine; I’m part of a global community of people and yet I feel special.Love Awon Golding www.awongolding.com | Twitter: @AwonGolding | Facebook: Awon Golding Millinery