Hot Press Interview with Roe McDermott – Deb of Intrigue: Interview with Deb Fanning

Milliner Deb Fanning has earned widespread acclaim and numerous awards for her stunningly imaginative designs.

A dynamic young milliner from Rathfarnham, Deb Fanning grew up with a mother who was a “dab hand on the sewing machine”. Intrigued by the process, the young Deb used to pester her Mum to show her how to use the machine. Ever since, she has been on an exciting journey encompassing her diverse interests. Aesthetics have always been vitally important to her – she enjoys making things beautiful.

In the autumn of 2014, after much thought, Deb decided to start her own label,Deb Fanning Millinery. She then started selling her ready to wear pieces in the Loft Market in Dublin’s renowned Powerscourt Centre – where many of Ireland’s top designers got their start. Since then, Fanning has raked in awards and accolades, with 2016 proving a particularly stellar year.

“One of the highlights of last year was being picked as a finalist in the Mercedes-Benz-MSL Cork Fashion Week Millinery Category,” says the designer. “It was a fantastic experience.”

Deb is mostly self-taught through experimenting with different millinery materials, fabrics and aesthetics. She enjoys the creative process immensely, from the first kernel of an idea to its completion in the shape of a headpiece or hat. Always eager to hone her skills, this year Deb went back to study fashion design at the Dublin Institute of Design.

“It’s been a real eye opener for me,” she enthuses. “A wonderful journey into the world of design. Even though I’m a milliner, I’ve found fashion design and the process behind it to be verydifferent in ways I’d not expected. I’m looking forward to year two, in which we will create our own capsule collection. Watch this space!”

Fanning describes her work as “vintage-inspired with a contemporary edgy twist”. Her style flows from her inspirations, and her latest collection, Electra, was influenced by “the colours of the universe. Its beauty and mystery give me something to work off. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love bright colours in general, so it made sense for me to hone in on this for the new collection.”

Deb Fanning Millinery designs are known for their stunning embellishment, and the Electra collection is no different.

“For this collection, I worked with thermoplastics to block my bases,” says Deb. “I then embellished them with sparkly and colourful fabrics: sinamay, funky feathers, sprayed quills, veiling, and sequinned and crystal beading.”

Deb is convinced that anyone can rock a dramatic headpiece, though the Deb Fanning woman must have a sense of confidence – and even daring.

“I think a hat can make an outfit stand out and that’s what I wanted to create with this collection – something really eye catching for the customer,” says Deb. “A hat can make you feel so good and give you confidence. Compared to some of the other milliners out there, my pieces are a bit more daring, so to speak. They are for anybody who loves hats and headpieces and wants to add a bit of glamour and funk to an outfit. They aren’t targeted to any specific age group – with a small bit of confidence, absolutely anyone can wear a DFM!”