As most of you know, my biggest dream in life has always been to be a fashion designer. In college, I took a sculpture class and created dresses out of every medium that was accessible to me – toilet paper, wire, string, mesh screen, newspaper, etc. It was in this class that I began to see fashion design as more of an art form rather than just functional everyday wear and realized that I could created pieces that fulfilled my artistic need while also making other people feel beautiful.
I think this is why I was immediately drawn to Merve Bayindir’s hat designs. The moment I was introduced to the brand, I felt a surge of inspiration and excitement! I fell in love with the delicate and feminine designs in a rainbow of colors with interesting details and shapes mixed with gorgeous embellishments consisting of sequins, florals, and bows. Her designs are quite literally wearable artistic masterpieces.
If her name sounds familiar that’s because I was lucky enough to wear some of her stunning creations including an embellished hat and floral headband to NYFW last year and let me tell you, they are what dreams are made of! She also recently launched some of her pieces on NET-A-PORTER (including the gorgeous floral pillbox hat you’ll see below).
Merve Bayindir was founded in 2011 by Merve Bayindir and her mother, Yasemin Bayindir. I love that this is a woman-owned brand and I especially love that it was created by a mother-daughter duo. The brand is an official Royal Ascot milliner and they produce a range of architectural and show-stopping pieces for bridal and occasion wear. Today, I’m so happy to introduce you to the designer herself with a Q & A along with some images of my favorite pieces from her recent collection! I hope you enjoy this interview with Merve Bayindir!
Designer Profile: Merve Bayindir Interview
Introduction – Tell us about yourself and your background:
Hi My name is Merve Bayindir born in 1980 in Istanbul, Turkey. I lived in Istanbul most of my life; my father Babur is and interior designer with his own furniture company, my mother Yasemin is an Industrial Engineer who is currently my partner in business and my brother Baran is a Medical Geneticist (phd) who is an entrepreneur.
I went to university in 1999 to Canada, Toronto. Studied in York University and graduated with Honours BA in Psychology and Humanities. I came back to Turkey and worked as a Psychologist for a while, then with my dad and eventually my mother. And apparently working with my mother was so good that we moved to London in 2016 to expand our brand.
What made you want to be a milliner?
I have never really planned to become a milliner really, I didn’t even think there was a job like that. The cards or faith what ever you want to call it decided that I was going to be a milliner. I started hats just for fun, or as a side thing to my clothes. They were not even real hats. However, they got all the attention possible, and my mom and my pr at the time pushed me into it.
Is this something you always wanted to do?
No not really, but then again I never thought I was talented at all. My father who is a very talented artist in his of field assured me that I had no talent. I did always love making things with my hands. It has always been a joy to me.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a milliner:
I knew how to sew etc, and working with my dad I had learned how to build things, plus while working with mom and designing clothes, it gave me time to refresh all my skills. Plus no lies, I have always loved making things. So when I was declared a milliner and you know, decided I could do this, I started to read, watch every video I could find, investigate every hat model I can find, deconstruct and reconstruct hats, and finally my biggest trick, I bought both Phillip Treacy and Stephen Jones’s books literally turned them into my bible , looked at every picture with magnifier to figure out material use and experiment with them, re-create some of the details they did to see if I can… And add everything else I knew from my experiences and here I am.
How has your brand evolved since you began?
Well, we started from nothing. The brand was set up in 2011, we had my first Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Istanbul Runway, that was the big kick off for the brand. We have attended MBFWI for 6 seasons and that help our brand’s awareness of the brand internationally. In order to expand, we moved to London in 2016 and since then it expanded insanely. We have been pretty much been published all around the world and are currently working with a lot of international stores as well as private clients.
Where do you find inspiration for your beautiful designs?
It is very weird. Everything I see, I see it as a hat or/and headpiece or something.. It is never plainly what it is for me. And you know, while you are walking around, certain things start to stand out and connect with each other and eventually you see one thing that binds them altogether or you can start this sentence with one movie, bug or flower gets in you head and everything else starts to relate with that and you have a collection. So honestly inspiration comes from anything and everything for me.
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Meeting with the Queen… That was my dream from the start point of our brand. It was : “One day I will meet the queen, she will come and see my hats and we will talk about hats.” That was a big joke in my close groups. Well 2 years ago, HRH Queen came to visit fashion week and came to tour our stand and we talked about hats. That was a pinch me moment.
Can you give us a peek into what a typical day is like?
I wake up around 7 am.
Work out for an 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
I take my time with breakfast, not that I eat a lot but I really enjoy it.
I start work around 10 am.
Between 10 am to 6 pm I work and that might mean something different which is the fun part.
I usually eat early so for the rest of the time I like watching tv or hanging out with friends.
I might end up staying up till 2-3 am and do some private creative work.
Then off to bed 🙂
What’s next for you?
Well hopefully expand more, open our flagship store in London, and start collaborating with runways and jewellers.
If you weren’t a milliner, what would you be doing?
I really don’t know… I really don’t know it sort of is my identity now and I can’t think of my self doing anything else.
Is there any advice you can offer aspiring designers and milliners?
Be patient, work hard, update yourself, spend carefully.
Words to live by:
“Never say no before trying”
“Take every opportunity that comes on your way”
“Never do anything halfway”
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Merve Bayindir! Thank you so much to the designer for taking the time to chat with us. Personally, I think her story is so inspiring and I loved learning more about the woman behind hats 😉
Which of these hats is your favorite?
Shop Merve Bayindir