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Still Reeling From The Royal Wedding? Hat-Making Mavens Tracy Dizon And Bonsai Fojas Share Their Specialty For Crafting Head Candy

Meet Manila’s Milliner Women

We got in touch with two of Manila’s beloved hat-making “kweens.” Bonsai Fojas (@BonneHandmade) and Tracy Dizon (@TiaraByTracyDizon), who happen to share the same consignment hat rack in AC+632 at Greenbelt 5 as separate retailers. Both of them more than dabble in the hands-on labor of millinery—the niche manufacturing business of women’s hats. They’ve turned crafting fashion accessories into serious business and a passion to enjoy. Bonsai Fojas’ elegant milliner accessories brand, Bonne Handmade, turns 10 this year and has been worn by celebrities and featured in several publications—as seen on a familiar Rupaul’s Drag Race star recently who came to visit. Relentless single-mom and fashion designer Tracy Dizon has come against staggering odds to reach her spot and never fails to impress with her handiwork. It’s no surprise considering her early beginnings; rubbing elbows with actual craftsmen who’ve worked alongside Royal Fam-approved milliner master, Phillip Treacy.

 

Still in a Royal Wedding state of mind?

Is your head still in a whirl since last Saturday’s Royal Wedding mania? The net now bleeds Harry, Meghan, and more Meghan. Photo upon photo of the freshly united Royal Couple, their extended family, and celebrity guests now pepper our feeds. The pair, now officially celebrated as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have set a new bar in terms of trend and style for celebrity weddings. 

 

 

Apart from the obvious well-tailored glam from every possible angle we also noted the evident restraint in terms of pomp and blare. Their manner of matrimony proved simple yet heartwarming, luxuriously stylish yet more than a tad bit touching. The lengthy gospel of love was preached and a choir sang Harry’s song request, a beautiful acapella rendition of “Stand By Me.” The ceremony ended with a radiant show of appreciation for the public as the couple stepped outside for the much-awaited kiss beneath rare English sunshine.

 

 

First kiss #RoyalWedding

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The sophistication of British style still reigned supreme amidst nuptial bliss, albeit with the overall wardrobe vibe being slightly pared down—what’s an English wedding without a happy array of hats, headpieces, and fascinators?  These were still significantly present and an alarming number of them amongst the royal entourage were by none other than Phillip Treacy. 

 

 

 

 

Bonsai and Tracy’s Fave Hats From the Royal Wedding

We just had to ask both Bonsai and Tracy to share which hats they particularly took to from last weekend’s momentous British occasion.  They gleefully pointed out which ones sparked joy for them and why.

 

Lady Kitty Spencer

 

Tracy: “I love the interesting shape of the base of this fascinator. I think the closer it is to the head the more chic it looks. It emphasizes the face somehow. I also would recommend putting your hair in a bun to elongate your neck and emphasize the hat.”

 

Charlotte Riley

 

?? thank you @philiptreacy ?? #charlotteriley #royalwedding

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Bonsai: “Another bespoke fascinator in classic black, but with a lovely array of flowers that went perfectly well with her dress.”

 

Pippa Middleton

 

Tracy: “I also loved Pippa Middleton’s fascinator. It is a wedding after all; [I liked] the romantic florals and color tones.”

 

The Royal “Exes” Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas

 

Chelsy Davy

 

Cressida Bonas

Bonsai: “I loved the structured, spikey feathers on Chelsy’s piece and the simple feathered piece on Cressida. “

 

BONSAI FOJAS for Bonne Handmade

New pursuits like headdress tailoring or the art and craft of millinery can come about in an uncanny instance.  Bonsai Fojas won a sewing machine during an office Christmas party in 2005, and “sew” began her fashion journey (pun intended).  She slowly realized, however, that crafting whole outfits and dresses would take up too much time and energy, especially since she had a day job as a copywriter in advertising. 

 

 

“Since my line of work took up so much time, I couldn’t really sew clothes from scratch. Browsing online, I stumbled upon handmade fascinators. The pieces reminded me of the 1920’s Ziegfeld girls and 40’s Hollywood glam. The pieces had feathers, sequins, beads---I was hooked.” Her brand of head fancy, Bonne Handmade, is turning a decade old this year, and with the attention now all over everything Royal Wedding related the future’s looking good for her niche fashion business.

 

 

 

For Bonsai, what began as a hobby steadily grew into a small retail business. “A make-up artist friend of mine, Mica Tuaño saw my pieces and suggested that we collaborate on a photo shoot. Once I posted the photos, the pieces were sold instantly.”

 

 

 

 

Bonsai’s hats, headdresses, and fascinators range from fun to flirty, but they often bear that understated feminine elegance. “Feathers, appliques and trimmings are quite delicate, but when the pieces are thoughtfully and carefully put together by hand, it should be sturdy enough to last.”

 

 

In a recent editorial shoot locally, Valentina of Rupaul’s Drag Race was also seen wearing a few pieces by Bonne Handmade. However, one of Bonsai’s more memorable moments involved a local celebrity. “My most memorable client is Amanda Griffin-Jacob. She saw one of the first features about my work on a magazine and placed an order of about 15 or so fascinators for a hen party to be held in Italy. I was very new to the craft then and was absolutely thrilled that she trusted me to create fascinators for her and her friends.”

 

TRACY DIZON for Tiara By TracyDizon

Even if this spunky, good-natured millinery momma is hopping venues, Tracy Dizon stays glued to your details when you’re in touch and she’s in for the ride.  Fresh from working onset at Umagang Kay Ganda at dawn, she shares how her lil’ hat-making journey began with her being a fashion designer first. 

 

 

Once upon a time, with her son, Atreyu, in tow, Tracy first studied Clothing Technology at U.P. Diliman. “That’s where I first got my basic knowledge of production design manufacturing and management, not only with fashion (garments) but with accessories as well,” Tracy continues, “I was a stylist for TV and films for a while; that served as my bread and butter. After my gig in Project Runway Philippines Season 2 I started to design more independently. Oddly, my first developments in millinery came from a certain client’s demands.”

 

 

Are we feeling the #royalwedding2018 today?? ??

A post shared by Tiara by Tracy Dizon (@tiarabytracydizon) on

 

“My clientele requested that I match the dresses I make for them. It was so funny that I used bra pads at first to develop some hat designs. It was an interesting challenge.” Tracy caters to regular private clients as well as celebrities by request in the entertainment industry. Maxene Magalona, Sanya Smith, and eclectic fashionista, Tessa Prieto Valdes are among Tracy Dizon’s VIP clientele. “Of course, Miss Tessa Prieto Valdes is the pinnacle of my Millinery local muses! I love Tessa because as she said ‘Mas baliw ka pa sa akin!’” Abroad, Sex and the City stylist, Patricia Field, is also one of her foreign clients.

 

 

“Another amazing fashion icon [a client of mine] is Misha Janette who is a top fashion editor in Tokyo. Because of Misha and how she wore my fascinators to Chanel Events, Armani Red Carpets I was able to penetrate Tokyo Fashion Scene in 2013.” Tracy’s designs are often brightly colored and whimsical, but she is also capable of doing more minimal classic designs.

 

 

 

Are we feeling the #royalwedding2018 today?? ??

A post shared by Tiara by Tracy Dizon (@tiarabytracydizon) on

 

 

You just might be blown away by more than the hat-making fact about Tracy. Before all this, after studying while being a single mom (coming from a shelter for unwed mothers), and facing her son’s brain tumor condition in 2016 (which they overcame), she was then on her way to Brooklyn Fashion Week. For 12 years, Tracy continued to put her work out for annual global fashion design contests. It’s been a tough journey for Tracy to get to where she is, and her son has been her sole inspiration and reason for determining to push forward in life and aim for excellence.

 

 

 

You came into my life unexpectedly and my life changed drastically since then. The best stories of my life are all of those with you in it. You would not even remember but I’d keep on telling you how I survived living in a shelter for unwed mothers. Losing everything I had to have you in my life. Up until today, you’d still be the only baby who joined in college classes in UP Diliman. Uniquely the only toddler assisting his aspiring mom to being a designer. Then came the brain tumor and adolescence and I don’t know how much more I’m messing up as a clueless single mom. You’re now 14, perhaps this is one of the saddest times. Hardest struggle for me. All I could ever wish for is you grow up to be a good responsible god-fearing person, who would make a difference in this world. I wish I would live longer to witness your long life. Happy Birthday, Atreyu. I wish you could make your own life epic as we both did ours. P.S If you ever noticed, #tiarabytracydizon ‘s email is march30girls@gmail? It goes way back 2009 when one of my bestfriends Jasmine developed this brand and we have both our son’s bday on March30th! ??

A post shared by Tiara by Tracy Dizon (@tiarabytracydizon) on

 

Once before, while competing abroad before in 2009 for the 47th Japan Fashion Design Contest, Tracy met and forged professional ties with actual men and women who’d worked with THE Phillip Treacy—the iconic Irish milliner frequently in service to the Royal Family.  In last Saturday’s Royal Wedding there were 20 hats by Phillip Treacy worn amongst the entourage and guests; a few to mention are Kate Middleton, Kitty Spencer, and even Oprah who brought along vintage Phillip Treacy hat (along with Idris Elba as arm candy).  “That connection I gained [in 2009] with craftsmen who’ve worked with Phillip Treacy (when he used to subcontract work in the Philippines) is also why I’m sure of what level of quality I’m able to deliver.  I collaborated with local exporting hat-makers to supply me with a limited amount of sinamay as material. I continued developing headpieces as per my clientele’s request.  After a few months of intensive brainstorming, product design research, and development, I launched Tiara by Tracy Dizon online.” 

One challenge, we find, that has people iffy about trying hats or fascinators is the possibility of appearing overdressed or accessorized to the point that it might scream “costume” instead of register as proper attire. Bonsai offers a tip on balancing it all from top to toe.  For her it’s about being more aware of the periods of dated style, “I suggest mixing up the ‘eras’ of your outfit. For example, if you are wearing a pillbox hat, try not to wear 60’s silhouettes.  You can also try mixing vintage clothing with everyday clothing or going for a more laid back or comfortable look.  I really am all for wearing a fascinator with ripped jeans, sneakers and simple, modern jewelry/accessories just to add a bit more glam to the look.”