My name is Carrie Yap and I am a first generation Chinese Canadian. Thus far my contribution to Canada has been professional. Upon receiving my Master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, I came back to Canada with a desire to develop the concept of the public realm, tactical urbanism, and the “invisible” elements that prevents us from interacting with our city.
Growing up in a fairly strict Chinese household, I was not encouraged to pursue the Arts. So I stepped into millinery as a way of expressing myself and exploring my roots. What I hope to contribute to Canada now is visibility.
In the past few years, I have felt a pull towards my roots, which lie in Hong Kong and Malaysia. This has influenced my work as an artist and budding milliner. I was inspired by the movie “In the Mood For Love,” which showcases Maggie Cheung wearing a series of beautiful cheongsams. To witness an Asian woman being portrayed so elegantly in the 1960’s was really a first for me. As a new milliner, this got me thinking: why were the women in the 60s, and earlier, portrayed wearing fascinators and hats never Asian women? I have seen pictures of many of my aunts, my mom and her friends, and they were just as fashionable as the rest of the world, but they remained hidden.
I decided that becoming a milliner would be one way to showcase my heritage. My work does not look like the hats you can find in Australia or Britain because they have a very Chinese feel. My current work/collection is thematically inspired by the movie, “In the Mood for Love.” While the form of the hats are typical, my heritage and voice are visible through the hand embroidered patterns, which are inspired by the colours and patterns of cheongsams.
I use old Shanghainese posters, as well as other work, to help me design and plan the look of each hat. For a few pieces, I embroidered traditional folk stories, as was custom for embroidery on the clothing of royals.
I hope to showcase the collection and take portraits of women of Asian descent wearing my hats while styled in fashions from the forties to sixties as a means of increasing visibility.