David Dunkley was about to tell a secret, but not, he said, while a digital voice recorder was running and definitely not if it was going to be published. Disclosing his secret to the public would be tantamount to a mobster ratting out a mafia don, albeit with less grave consequences to Dunkley’s physical health, if not his professional standing. What can be said about Dunkley’s secret is that it concerns his profession/passion/life calling as a milliner. That is, a maker of high-end, haute couture, fabulous, feathery, often fascinator-adorned custom hats, fit to wear to a royal wedding or some other aristocratic European affair.
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“It’s a kooky world,” Dunkley says, at his narrow, nondescript millinery shop in west end Toronto, which is home to a colourful array of more affordable (think: $300 and up) off-the-rack hats for the non-aristocrats, plus a white, fluffy, friendly Bijou lapdog, named Katy, that accompanies him to work each day.