How did you get into millinery? I originally trained in Womenswear and Accessories at the London College of Fashion, however 10 years later I found myself working for numerous companies, but in increasingly less creative roles.
As I was planning my wedding I took some time off and, having made it my new year’s resolution, took a two-day hat course and loved it.
Four millinery courses later and I was accepted into the prestigious HNC Design for Millinery course at Kensington and Chelsea College where we lived and breathed hats for the year. I started my business straight off the course.
Would you recommend it as a career? Millinery is something you really have to love to make it a career. It’s not the most lucrative of professions and it’s a constant learning curve.
I work on my own and I find it hard not having someone else to bounce ideas off, plus there are invariably times of intense pressure when you’re working to a deadline that you feel you’ll never meet!
I have to say though, the feeling when you finish a hat – your fingers are still raw from all the hand sewing and your shoulders ache from being hunched over your work – you take a step back and you look at the hat and think ‘I made that’.
That sense of pride and accomplishment makes it all worthwhile and you are suddenly excited about making the next one even more beautiful!
How should you choose a hat? Are there any top tips regarding your face shape, outfit, occasion etc.? Traditionally there were set rules for headwear and there still are, to a point.
At Ascot, for example, the base of the hat needs to be at least four inches and this is pretty strict.
Aside from these kind of restrictions, my advice would be if the hat makes you feel fabulous and it’s fun to wear, go for it!
The hat can suit your face shape, colour match your outfit and tick all the boxes set out in the Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette, but if you don’t feel fabulous it’s not the hat for you. What advice do you give to your customers? I get a lot of nervous ladies coming to me, but I try to remind them that it’s my job to make sure that they not only look beautiful but feel it too.
Many people are daunted by the prospect of wearing a hat, especially the Mother of the Bride, and sometimes there’s a real danger of the hat wearing you rather than the other way round.
The advantage of coming to the designer directly is that we can offer a truly bespoke service. Hats are such fun to wear – you just need the right hat and the right designer for you.