Featured Vancouverite: Kelly Dunlap

Hometown: Leitches Creek, Cape Breton

How long have you been a Vancouverite? 7 years

I am a milliner. I custom create beautiful hats and headwear using the art of traditional millinery. I work out of my charming Kitsilano atelier, where I meet with my clients by appointment to consult with them on their dream hat, which I create based on their ideas as well as their shape of face and features. Each bespoke piece I create is a wonderfully fun journey for both myself and the client. I quit my full-time job in the spring to truly devote my life to my passion, and it’s been a great adventure! I also teach hat making (private and group classes) and hold fascinator making parties. The next hat making workshop will be on December 10 and 11, 2011 in Kitsilano, and for those who can’t make it, I also do gift certificates. You can read more about the workshops here.

I hand form my hats using antique wooden hat blocks and primarily work with high quality felts, sinamay, feathers, and many different vintage trims like grosgrain ribbons and silk veilings. My creations are typically of a vintage silhouette with contemporary twists. Some of my work can be seen on  www.thesaucymilliner.com, but I encourage you to make an appointment and to come by for tea and visit in person.

You can also watch for The Saucy Milliner’s creations on upcoming episodes of ABC’s new hit series Once Upon A Time.

Favourite place in the city:
I think my favorite place would have to be the seawall. I love riding my beach cruiser, The Pink Bandit, from Kitsilano, around the seawall all the way to Stanley Park. It’s such a pleasant way to see so much of this beautiful city. I shall never tire of the stunning views here; they still take my breath away, every time I cross over Burrard Bridge.

Best way to spend a Saturday in the city:
There is no shortage of dreamy things to do on a Saturday afternoon in Vancouver.  Saturdays usually start very early, with a bit of millinery whilst watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or Casablanca. Then I’ll make a coffee and stroll to Kits Beach to soak up the delicious salty autumn air, followed by brunch with pals at any number of scrummy places, like Central Bistro on Denman Street in the West End or Aphrodite’s Café & Pie Shop in Kitsilano. I love taking a wander around my hood. Granville Island, the Kits Farmers Market and The Comic Shop are frequent stops. Sometimes on a Saturday night, I’ll throw on a frock and a cocktail hat and meet with my gals, The Creative Dame Co., for a manhattan at The Sutton or take in a movie at Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Saturdays are pretty fantastic.

Favourite Vancouver artist:
My favorite Vancouver-based artist is fellow hat revivalist and friend, Jill Barber. Jill is also a transplant to this city and like me, she is also a bit of a throwback to another time. She is such a beauty and a talent and I thoroughly love listening to her perform live with her amazing band. You can catch her tour dates on www.jillbarber.com. I’ll be at her show on December 2, 2011 in North Vancouver, so perhaps I’ll see you there (I’ll be the one in the hat)!

Top insider tip for visitors:
I have lived in Kitsilano the whole time I’ve been in Vancouver and I love it. I am constantly discovering new things about my neighborhood. Two recent gems that I have discovered right under my nose are the Kits Community Centre on Larch Street and 10th Ave, which has a great skating rink and fitness centre (your monthly pass gets you into Vancouver parks board fitness centers and pools) and the Billy Bishop Legion on Laburnum in Kits Point. It’s a cozy, friendly place to catch up with friends over an imperial pint whilst sitting in front of the fire and listening to live Celtic music. It reminds me of the pubs I used to go to when I lived in England.

Photo of Kelly Dunlap is courtesy of Abbye Dahl

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