f there’s one thing Melbourne master milliner Paris Kyne knows about, it’s colour.
Which is fortunate given that this season, so our fashionistas keep harping, block colour is the new black.
Kyne, who teaches students the art of matching hues at Kangan Institute, said he’s excited about this season’s Spring Racing Carnival fashion potential.
“Colour’s fantastic. I adore colour and most people have no idea what to do with it,” Kyne told the Star Observer.
“When colour blocking comes in every 20 or so years it gets very funny.
“The last time was in the late ’80s and that was hysterical, because what we put together was just downright scary. I’ve seen some funny things on the street already, but I like it, I get a laugh out of it.”
So far this racing season Kyne has bagged two prizes for his work at the Caulfield Classic Style Award.
Now he is busying himself with all manner of last-minute preparations for haute couture headwear for race-goers.
A question about whether a fashion season of colours is easier than blacks and nudes, however, elicited a far more complicated answer than expected.
“Which blacks are they? There are so many blacks on the market and so many of what you call black is not black because it’s green-black or blue-black. Black is an exact value,” Kyne said.
“With the nudes, there are so many nudes, how many pinks has it got shot through it, how much greens’ it got shot through it?
“After you’ve got 20 years to draw back on — I’ve had 24 years in fashion — you see what works and what doesn’t work.”
In his latest collection Kyne has drawn inspiration from some exotic feathered friends.
“Birds of paradise is the main theme running through everything I’m doing,” he said.
“I’m interested in endangered species and what we’ve done to the planet and the fact we’ve annihilated so much.
“That’s my way of doing something. I’m in fashion, so everyone thinks I’m a silly gay boy in fashion. But we look at something like that and take it as inspiration. It’s my way of getting word out that what we are doing is wrong.”
One piece in Kyne’s latest collection contains an 80 year-old bird of paradise plume — now illegal to import — he bought from a Tasmanian milliner who, he believes, was unaware of the feather’s rarity.
“An old milliner came to me with a whole lot of stuff. I picked through it, I paid her in cash, and I thought, ‘I’m going to keep quiet about what the hell I’ve just bought’.”
But it’s not just the animal kingdom Kyne draws inspiration from for his headwear.
“I’m a runner as well, and when I’m running, I look at trees and cute boys,” he said.
“If you’re in a good mood, that affects your work. If you’re in a bad mood, you can still channel that into your work and do something positive with it.
“It might be a quite a dark piece you make, but so be it.”
Hailing from the Gippsland town of Sale, Kyne started in the field as a hatblocker. He worked in his early career with the late Melbourne milliner William Beale, who he now counts as one of his heroes.
He also counts London milliner Philip Treacy — behind the infamous hat Princess Beatrice wore at Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding — and Queen Elizabeth II’s former milliner Fredrick Fox as influences on his work.
While Kyne focuses his time on what women are wearing trackside, what are his tips for the boys this racing season?
“A good strong, well fitted suit. If you’re buying something off the rack, take it to your tailor, have it altered,” he said.
“If I’m buying anything off the rack, which I quite often do, I still have it altered so it fits me absolutely bloody perfectly.
“The better it fits you, the hotter you’re going to look and boys need to look hot.”
This Spring Racing Carnival, the self-confessed Dynasty fan is in for a treat. He is set to share the same marquee as Alexis Colby herself, Joan Collins, on Oaks Day.
“I was a fan of Dynasty before I was gay,” Kyne said.
Asked who he’d most like to design a hat for, he nominated screen and song legend Grace Jones.
“No one beats Grace. I saw her at the closing ceremony of the Amsterdam Gay Games 12 years ago,” he gushed.
“Nothing beats that closing party with Jimmy Somerville. It was quite a night, and earlier that night we saw the Weathergirls — and Bananarama.
“Also Dana International, because she’d just won Eurovision.”
Saturday, October 29
HardWear Laird 31st B’day- From 5pm
Sunday October 30
Ignite – GH from noon
Rogue Stallion – Chasers Nightclub from noon
Sundaylicious – Wharf Hotel from 3pm
Monday, October 31
JOHN party – New Guernica from 10pm.
Tuesday, November 1
Laird Hotel Cup Day – From 1pm