Designer Profile: Allison Bard, Helen Kaminski

By   /  June 19, 2014

Allison Bard is the General Manager of Helen Kamiski, a brand that’s all about hats! With a love for fashion, Alison started her fashion career at the ESMOD fashion design school in Paris, France. She started off as a designer in Paris and San Francisco before turning her head to the business side of the industry. Armed with an MBA in Marketing and International Business from New York University,she launched her career in fashion retail in New York and moved to Australia and joining Helen Kaminski.

How did you get started designing hats and why hats?

Prior to joining Helen Kaminski I had only been involved in fashion apparel, whether designing or buying. However, I was very familiar with Helen Kaminski hats from my time in New York where the brand was quite famous because Hilary Clinton wore her first hat designed by Helen, the ‘Classic 5’. So when I arrived in Sydney and was offered the chance to join the company, I was very happy to become part of such well-respected brand and to learn a new aspect of the fashion industry. I also was an avid hat wearer before working for the company, which also had something to do with my choice.

Happiness is…

Being with people I love, respect and trust.

A quote that inspires you…

‘if you make your passion your profession, you will never work a day’. I feel very lucky to be working in an industry that stimulates both sides of my brain, the creative and the analytic. It keeps me interested and is never dull.

Allison Bar, Helen Kaminski - Red dress and hat

My top 3 favourite cities..

I love living in Sydney and am lucky enough to very close to Sydney Harbour. I can travel by ferry into the city which brings you to the footsteps of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The weather is almost always fine, and Australians are very friendly.

I feel at home in Paris and love to walk the streets taking in the beautiful architecture, old movies and charming cafes. You can literally walk across the city and it is worth doing, just so you don’t miss anything.

Hong Kong for the buzz of the city, the amazing natural setting juxtapose with striking skyscrapers, the shopping, and dynamic mix of culture.

Favourite beaches in Australia..

Bondi Beach is only 10 minutes from my home and has a beautiful welcoming boardwalk so you can take in all the sites without getting sandy, plus it’s a great spot for people watching.

Dunsborough Beach in Western Australia has pristine white sand that flows into the clear and calm blue-green water of the Indian Ocean.

The absolutely serene Seven Mile Beach on the South Coast of New South Wales you can catch glimpses of migrating whales in May and October. It is wild and rugged, and also located close to the small town of Berry that has delicious restaurants, bakeries and charming shops.

Top 3 websites for style inspiration

I love Net-A-Porter for both style inspiration and convenience. Selecting my favorite looks from the runways, editing my wish list, and having them conveniently (and beautifully!) delivered to my door is a real style treat.

I also look to blogger and author Scott Schuman, and his blog The Sartorialist, whose truly global eye keeps me up-to-date and inspired, and for industry news, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) for online and in-box updates.

Top Australian designers to know..

Australian designers are known for their easy casual style, there are alot of design talent in Australia. Helen Kaminski, is of course, the epitome of the casual chic Australian lifestyle. Australian brand and fashion icon Carla Zampatti’s style is timeless, and her talented daughter Bianca Spender is doing exciting things with her label on the runway. Other labels doing great work include Toni Maticevski, Dion Lee, Ellery, Ginger and Smart… plus you can’t go past Camilla and Zimmerman for summer chic.


Hat styles  for brunch, days on the beach, hiking and BBQ?

A hat is an obvious accessory for Hong Kongers! Of course the hat you select largely depends on your personal style and the outfit you choose. At the same time a hat can really transform an outfit from being city-ready to resort. But here are my picks

Brunch: I would choose the ‘Sambava’ Azuay Fine Weave fedora. It has city attitude and short brim that will not interfere with the conversation or people watching.

Day on the Beach demands a wide brim with UPF 50+ sun protection which makes the asymmetric wide brim of the raffia fine braid ‘Andriana’ a perfect choice, chic and practical.

Hiking requires a versatile hat like the ‘Kuya’ to do double duty. The raffia crochet crown for breathable cool comfort and 100% cotton brim with UPF 50+ sun protection is a great combination for outdoor activity.

BBQ says visor to me… We have such an extensive selection, it is hard to choose one, but if I must… the ‘Ramena’ visor, which combines a leather peak with raffia brand and flexible size adjustment, would be a great pick.

Allison Bar, Helen Kaminski - Printed dress and hat

What are your top 3 hat appropriate occasions to wear hats in Hong Kong?

  • Any outdoor activity: playing golf, tennis, hiking, walking, playing or watching sports
  • The Races or Polo matches
  • Brunch or BBQs

How do you design hats with UPF50+ protection.

The UPF certification is actually for the materials used in the making the hat. Our product team tests all our materials by sending them to specialized laboratories. The design of the hat and visor contribute to the sun protection by the width of brim or peak, however, a wide brim does not necessarily provide a high level of sun protection, as this ultimately depends on the materials used.

Every girl should own a hat because…

A hat can be a unique expression of your individuality.

Wearing a hat is also taking care of yourself by protecting your face from the sun or keeping me warm in the winter.

Photo credits: Helen Kaminski


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