It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience: make your own fascinator under the eyes of a famous milliner. And that’s exactly what you can do thanks to the auspices of Classbunny. Book into this exclusive class, Fascinator Extraordinaire, at Neil Grigg’s millinery studio.
Classbunny, founded by Pamela, is Sydney’s newest provider of amazing workshops and classes. There’s everything from dumpling-making, to dance classes, to an intro on the stock market. Classbunny has joined in AirBnb’s newly-launched Experiences; this is one of only 18 offerings in Sydney.
The 3.5-hour class takes place at Neil Grigg‘s eponymous millinery studio in Paddington. From the first second you walk in, you’re surrounded by stupendous hats and fascinators on both walls of his cosy studio.
Time flies throughout the morning (the class begins at 10.30am on a Sunday) and into the afternoon. We have the chance to try on some of the fantastic headgear to see what best suits our personalities and face shape. (And one of the attendees insists we should be wearing fascinators as we make them, so we all pop one on for a while.)
We start from the absolute beginning: wrapping a headband with ribbon and sewing on a fabric-covered base. Then, as Neil says, we’ll ‘pile some rubbish on top’. If this isn’t clear already: Neil is a delight. First training as a high school English teacher, he became a ballet dancer, then learned theatre millinery. After which he hosted a stall (sharing space with with Pamela at the start) at Paddington Markets for many years before opening his shop.
The two old friends (and former housemates in their 20s) keep the entire session lively. We watch their hilarious banter over what’s billed as ‘coffee and cake’, but is really a full spread of Pamela’s home-made cake, with cheeses and dips galore.
We do it all during the class: make roses out of nothing but silk ribbon; learn the differences between sinamay and spartree fabrics; see how feathers are coloured, then cut and steamed into wild shapes. By the finish, we have a true understanding of just how much goes into the creation of Neil’s bespoke hats. (Fans of his work include Tasmania’s most famous export, Princess Mary of Denmark.)
Each attendee was provided with in-depth consultation on what kind of fascinator we most desired. All of us created completely different creations to suit our style. I ironed and sewed vintage red fabric from the 1970s, creating black ribbon rosettes with Neil before he artfully placed them onto my fascinator. At the start of the class, I’d never have dreamed I’d make something so spectacular, but under Neil’s tutelage it all came together perfectly.
Fascinating Fascinators is the perfect way to spend a morning. Neil and Pamela are the consummate teachers and hosts. You’ll walk out, hat box in hand, with an unique headpiece you’ll wear to the races for years to come.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa can’t wait to wear her fascinator to Royal Randwick and the Melbourne Cup.