Mad hatter Tracy Dizon’s bold and quirky designs

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Milliner, businesswoman, and single mom. Photos courtesy of Tracy Dizon

Milliner, businesswoman, and single mom. Photos by Redford Mancio. Photos courtesy of Tracy Dizon

By Tracy Dizon

In 2010, I became a milliner, as the British would call people who design and craft hats for fashion and not so much to protect them from the sun.

I love designing hats because I can go all bold and full on creative. With hats, I can have the creative freedom to go quirky, opulent and dramatic. Hats are the first thing that will be noticed in a look, and they’re meant to catch attention, subtle or not.

In February 2010, right after my Japan Fashion Design Contest stint, I was able to put together the right team that can bring Tiara by Tracy Dizon come to life.

What is interesting is that the demand for me to make hats came even before I even started designing. After Project Runway Philippines Season 2 in 2009, there were several clients asking me to make their prom dresses, graduation ball gowns and all those made-to-order cocktail wear, and they started to ask me if I could also match their dresses with a bag and a hat. At the time, Avant Garde Lady Gaga and the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton were the interest of the market, and I was lucky to be a fashion bystander.

Together with my Miriam College high school best friend Jasmine Antonio, we were able to launch some interesting Wedding Collections, Cocktail Collections and some quirky unique stuff like Valentine’s Day and Pop Art pieces. Unfortunately, after the launch, Jasmine had to defer from Tiara since she had to focus on her career as an architect.

We initially aimed Tiara by Tracy Dizon as an online store, but opportunities created another pathway. After a major newspaper feature, Tiara was invited to consign in a very posh space in a mall in Makati City. Having the niche to design for headpieces gave me an edge among fashion designers. I was able to complement their works, blend in ensembles, and come up with a complete look altogether. That’s when I started to notice a big following in the local wedding industry.

Some of her dramatic hats.

Some of her dramatic hats.

After the “Royal Wedding” trend, there came a decline in the hat business. However, many manufacturers sprang out and started producing cheaper Made in China products I couldn’t compete with in terms of price. It is saddening when some clients haggle for PHP50 (around $1.00) per piece thinking that it is so cheap to make such hats. I couldn’t lower my price because in principle, I want to compensate the craftsmanship and artistry of my skilled workers to also make them feel the pride and sense of accomplishment in every piece that we make. There’s no way I could move backwards in my designs. I decided to move forward and take the big step to go global.

It was the top fashion editor, fashion stylist Misha Janette Fleming, an American fashion pioneer in Tokyo High Street Fashion that gave me that opportunity. It was such a great experience and indeed was a “fashion orgasm” working with her! I got to do things beyond my wildest ideas. What is truly motivating and inspiring is she wore my pieces in Tokyo’s poshest events. Imagine, I saw my pieces at Chanel, Emporio Armani events in Tokyo! OMG, it was an honor and a happy thought. Every time I see her wearing my designs, I can only think: I want to do this for the rest of my life.

I was able to work and manage the deliveries and have my brand represented in good hands, in Tokyo, Japan. I can only say the Japanese are one of the best colleagues to work with, with their hard work and professionalism.

After few years in Tokyo, I decided to expand different styles. It’s tricky to be boxed as just a Harajuku Kawaii Designer. Henceforth I explored my bohemian and worldly aesthetics that started my whole journey from Hanoi to Manila to New York… and New York again for the second time!

I can’t believe my Tiara by Tracy baby is almost 10 years old!

Models wearing Tracy’s clothing and hats during Fashion Week Brooklyn, where her Pinoy Pop Life Spring-Summer 2019 collection was the closing segment.

Models wearing Tracy’s clothing and hats during Fashion Week Brooklyn, where her Pinoy Pop Life Spring-Summer 2019 collection was the closing segment.

Few of my most recent bragging rights clienteles are of course Tessa Prieto Valdes who would buy in bulk because as she said, “Mas baliw ka pa sa akin!” She is such a darling and a lovely muse! Another one of my regulars is Maxene Magalona who has trusted me to regularly make her Kitty Ears! I swear, Maxene is so phenomenal. Anytime she would wear my pieces my inbox goes crazy with influx of orders! I guess my designs aren’t for everyone, but I take comfort with my regular clientele who just want to find something unique, quirky and cute which is limited out in the fashion market. I also got the amazing privilege to meet and have my funky fascinator pieces worn by Patricia Field, “Sex and the City” costume design stylist.

Fashion designer Tracy Dizon took up B.S. in Clothing Technology at UP Diliman where “I first formally learned to design clothes.” Despite lack of support from family and occasional failing grades, she persisted and found jobs designing costumes for television shows, such as “Lastikman” and “Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang.” Deep inside, she knew television “kept bread and butter for my son.” She yearned to create something of her own, her own brand. Just less than a year ago, right after her Manila Fame show, her son, Atreyu, underwent craniotomy for Brain Tumor. Torn between being a hands-on mom to her son and her other baby, her fashion design business, this is where Tracy is at the moment.

With her son Atreyu.

With her son Atreyu.

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