The art of Millinery

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Hats have always been a constant staple of the fashion industry. Headwear began in earnest during the Middle Ages when the church decreed that women’s hair must be covered, and throughout history it has been a symbol of status. The popularity of wearing hats declined post war 1940’s and 1950’s as many women choose not to wear hats on a regular basis. To preserve the market, the millinery industry set about creating variety and extravagance. Today we see a revival. On the catwalk may not have had as many headwear accessories as in the past but designers certainly were not lacking flair and creativity bringing headpieces that are both functional and stylish. There is a sense of practicality with hats; which can accentuate your face, hide a bad hair day or protect from the elements when it is cold or raining.
The term “millinery” is derived from “millaners”; Merchants from Milan that would trade silks, ribbons and the finest haberdasheries. The term started to be used in mid-1500s London as women’s hats gradually grew in popularity requiring an increasingly diverse range of materials to be used for their production. Silk, velvet, taffeta, leather, felt and beaver were all favoured.  If you love looking at millinery history the V&A holds one of the finest collections of millinery in the world.
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Whether used as a standout statement piece or to accessorize a particular design. Headwear comes in all shapes, sizes and designs. Over the weekend I had the pleasure to emerge myself of things millinery at Atelier Millinery; an atelier-boutique based in London’s West End.
I was invited to join a Fish Leather Workshop with guest teacher Jane Fryers.
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I had such an amazing time making my own headpiece. I left the day feeling like hats and hairpieces should be worn daily. I worn mine the journey home feeling absolutely fabulous. The exciting thing about creating (hand-making) is the opportunity to put your own twist on a technique. We were shown how to create flower shapes. Any creative process allows you to discover something new. There is not a “right” or “wrong”way. We were encourage to play around. My favourite season is autumn so the visual profile I wanted was of dried flowers. Others choose to re-create more natural rose shapes. I think you will agree with me that all the headpieces made were stunning and individual. I highly recommend you to visit Atelier Millinery for a dab in couture millinery either by yourself (courses) or their custom made pieces.
Wondering how to wear a hat? There is a quick interview with Georgina Abbot that went live on my channel.
  • Jane Fryers Millinery

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the workshop. It was a such a pleasure to teach you and the other students how to work with fish leather (while drinking tea and eating jammy dodgers!) … however, I do look a bit bonkers in the photo! xx

    • Hi Jane. Thank you so much for your tips and the supplier details. I cannot wait to make some more.

  • Your headpiece looks beautiful! I wear hats mich too seldomly, as my clothing style has gotten pretty casual in the last years. But I watched “Imitation Game” a few days ago and oh, those hats… ☺