Crimson, peach, magenta and teal flowers spill out of cutlery drawers in the apartment that Nicole McInnis has chosen to house her millinery brand, OhDina. The name came to her in a dream, where “…there was this woman and she was wearing a 1940’s outfit, and everybody kept going, ‘Oh Dina, you look fabulous!’ and I woke up in the morning and was like, this is it!” McInnis said.
Using freshwater pearls, vintage lace, genuine silk and shimmery peacock feathers, McInnis has been designing quirky headpieces called fascinators since launching her brand in 2008. Now, she focuses exclusively on capsule collections for alternative brides.
see more of Nicole’s work here: https://www.facebook.com/ohdina
“Most of the brides that I work with aren’t your traditional bride, so they’re not having a princess wedding,” McInnis said. “It’s more about bringing their families together for a celebration of love. It’s a party, so you want to wear a party hat.”
Each millinery piece is handmade by McInnis herself over six to eight weeks, which allows her more creative control. She’s also careful to include each bride in the design of her piece.
“For a lot of the pieces I suggest that if the bride has any heirloom jewellery from her grandmother, we sew that into the design,” McInnis said. “If her grandmother has passed away I can incorporate that into the piece and there is a suddenly an immediate connection to the design. It’s also something that they’re wearing on the biggest day of their lives so it quickly becomes very personal.”
McInnis studied and trained in the art of fancy hat and headpiece making at Ryerson University. In 2008, McInnis, 30, launched OhDina. Since being home in Halifax, McInnis has networked with local designers and brides who share the same passion for vintage luxury. Maureen Patricia, a wedding gown designer from Toronto, Ont. recently began working with McInnis, collaborating on wedding projects that are a fusion of her gowns and McInnis’s millinery.
“I think Nicole has a great feel for what is going on in her community and a gift for creating beautiful accessories,” Patricia said. “I think she is able to see not just the accessory, but the entire look and create a piece that will bring it all together.”
“Today’s modern bride has so many choices. The wedding dress is no longer a fashion item that has to be modernized every year and all brides must wear the new and latest thing,” Patricia said. “I think more and more brides are looking for something special, something that reflects their love story and their personality. The want something unique.”
One bride in particular stands out in McInnis’s mind. “One of my brides wears her headpiece for every anniversary. She wears all of her accessories. She wears her royal blue pumps, her little hat that I made; her earrings,” McInnis said.
Stephanie Skinner approached her wedding day knowing that she did not want to go the traditional route.
“When I envisioned myself on my wedding day I wanted to exude class and elegance. I wanted to be unique and there was no question that a veil would not give me what I needed to make that happen,” Skinner said. “I didn’t even look through the display of veils at the bridal store. I started doing my research for a one of a kind head piece online and discovered OhDina.”
Skinner said being involved in the entire process was a refreshing and relieving touch as a bride, when she had so many other things to plan. “Nicole kept me updated throughout, but for the most part I just let her fly with her ideas. I had
complete confidence that she would create a piece I wouldn’t want to take off,” Skinner said. “I wear my fascinator, shoes and jewellery every year for our anniversary. It’s my way of recreating the magic we felt on our wedding day. I plan to do this every year, and hope that someday I can pass it on.”
McInnis has designed for everything, from Frieda Kahlo-inspired weddings featuring deep crimson reds, mustards, warm purples and bright magentas, to a circus-themed wedding complete with a polka dot wedding gown. Six years have passed since the launch of OhDina and McInnis still loves every minute of it.
“I really feel like the best part of my job is that I meet people at the happiest time of their lives and I get to create something special for them,” McInnis said. “It’s being part of their lives, but I also get to hear their love stories, and how they met, and how he proposed and it’s just a special experience for me.”