Meet Edwin Alcazar an ICU nurse who is also one of Ireland's most exciting millinery designers

We spoke to Edwin Alcazar, one of the country's most exciting millinery talents, about his career in design and his life as an ICU nurse


Edwin Alcazar came to Ireland almost 20 years ago to work as a nurse.

This was his profession and millinery was something he wasn't familiar with. Yet, he always had a keen interest in fashion and design. So, how did an ICU nurse become one of the most exciting talents in the industry?

Well, it was by chance.

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"A colleague of mine asked me to make her fascinator for her friend's wedding and it received so many compliments and positive reviews from the hairstylist, the mother of the bride and other guests. The materials I used were all bought from a thrift shop."

And so it began for Edwin.

Fashion and events

He quickly realised horse racing was a major sporting and social event following a visit to the Curragh. The event stayed with him with Edwin saying, "Horses for men and hats for ladies. It was such a memorable event and it left a lasting impression on me. Opening up a new world for me in terms of fashion and events."

He decided to enroll in the dressmaking evening course at the Grafton Academy of Fashion and Design in 2011. In that same year, Edwin created dresses for Shirley Temple Bar for her Sunday bingo nights in the George, as well as dressing contestants and the winner of Mr Gay Ireland.

He eventually dropped out of the dressmaking course as his full-time job as a nurse took over.

He then made the move back to fascinators. In the spring of 2013, he met Colin Atkinson, one of his former tutors in the Grafton Academy where Edwin showed him some of this most recent millinery work. Colin was impressed and arranged for Edwin to meet Suzie Marr the academy's principal. He met Suzie and she offered him a place on the millinery evening course which he accepted.

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In January 2014, he organised a charity fashion show to showcase his pieces. It was through this show that doors began to open in the fashion world. "After that show, I was invited to showcase my hats in various charity events in the UK and at London Fashion Week."

Inspiration

Edwin's designs can only be described as stunning. Eye-catching and detail-heavy, these are not your usual run of the mill fascinators.

Where does he get his inspiration from? He says travel and lots of it. "Travelling helps me to create pieces inspired by other cultures, traditions, beliefs, art, architecture, and people. I incorporate all of this with my Filipino heritage touch."

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The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the fashion industry and has put smaller independent designers and retailers under severe pressure. In the case of millinery, this would be one of the busiest times of the year with weddings and horse racing festivals flooding the social calendar.

For Edwin, his design business is a side venture and while all orders were cancelled he is taking this time to reflect. "The positive side of this is that it has allowed me to rest and become inspired with new ideas for future hats."

Life in the ICU

As a senior ICU nurse, Edwin was met with some tough times in recent months because of coronavirus. "For the first few weeks of the pandemic surge, it was so daunting. As a senior ICU nurse, I needed to show strength, leadership, compassion, and positivity. I needed to acknowledge the anxieties of my patients, their families, and my colleagues."

He continues, "I think that having a positive attitude is also key in easing our situation in the workplace. I always try to be cheerful at the start of every shift. Little compliments of the great work our frontline workers are doing go a long way."

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Edwin believes millinery is his stress relief and gives him something to look forward to outside of his everyday profession.

 

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"For me, it's not just another career or business venture. It's a passion that fills and completes the space of a humble vocation. Balancing my busy schedule as an ICU nurse and a hat designer is not a melee but a celebration of humanity and art fusing together."

He finishes our conversation by saying the mix is "magical and fabulous."

I think that's a pretty good way to describe Edwin and his designs too.

You can follow Edwin's Instagram page here

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Image: Grafton Academy of Fashion and Design 


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