Hats Make a Comeback: The Return of the London Milliners

We know we’ve always been here, steaming felts over our ancient hat blocks and nestling feathers into our straws, hidden in random corners of London. But for years the London millinery community has stayed a little secret to the public and has been almost totally forgotten by fashion it’s self. Perhaps people were avoiding painful flashbacks of the 80’s oversized hats and satin bows, who knows? But I think its safe to say through the early 2000’s hats had practically disappeared… Until now, finally, they’re making a ferocious come back!
Of late, it seems that the hat gods have been at play and fashions eyes have been diverted towards hats once more, designers are falling in love with millinery all over again and they seem to be having (sorry for the pun) a crowning moment.
We’ve personally seen a huge resurgence in hats within our own studio. Demand for all shapes and styles has more than doubled, coming from all types of clientele too. It’s no longer only the traditional racing and shooting crowd that are coming through the door. With it being fashionable to adorn a beautiful hat in any season we’ve seen winter trends such as berets, baker caps and heads full of fur as well as summer trends of Chanel style boaters, embroidered raffia sunhats oversized sun hats and buckets hats making a come back. There is only a small and niche millinery community in London but we have definitely noticed it growing. From London Hat week becoming more popular year on year and a new wave of Instagram milliners growing, it really is fantastic to see the community and craft developing.
We couldn’t be happier that hats are back, not only for the sake of the business, but because here at Jess Collett milliner its our first and biggest passion. Jess always says a hat is ‘your passport to adventure’ and a good hat can take you places. In a wonderful article in this months Vogue (‘Head Start’ by Harriet Quick) Noel Stewart talks about how his generation were terrified of wearing hats. Hats for a long time had been an intimidating accessory, but hopefully as the publics taste for hat wearing swells feelings of self consciousness will diminish in equal measure. Last year two royal weddings gave hats some leverage with the hottest of celebrities adorning couture pieces and allowing the public to visualise the power and drama of hats. Celebrities such as Cara Delevigne, Amal Clooney and Kate Moss made dramatic hats accessible and relatable. The royal weddings gave our own brand some leverage and drew many eyes to our door. Pippa Middleton, Sarah Ferguson The Duchess of York and Julie Montagu all wore Jess Collett Milliner hats, launching our Instagram and twitter into sight.
Designers this season are paying more attention to the hat, Steven Jones created his usual masterpieces for Dior couture but somehow there seemed to be a new found glamour and attention to the pieces. The clown inspired swim caps had hand placed gems on the veiling, giving the impression of sparkling tears rolling down the face. We can wait to see what comes out of London Fashion Week next week in terms of millinery. Last year we saw successful London milliners flaunt their work on the runway such as Noel Stewart designing for Holly Fulton and Hussein Chalyan, Jane Taylor designing for Emeilia Wickstead and of course Phillip Tracy for Alexander McQueen.
We have a feeling it could be something very exciting. The article also introduces Stephen Jones’ current exhibition and has a small interview with him discussing his concept. The exhibition is based on the concept of a decedent dinner party in the banqueting room of Brighton Pavilion and looks absolutely magical. Jones also hats on display at the V&A for the Dior exhibition which we are dying to see!
It’s so nice to see Stephen leading the way for London milliners. We love the London Millinery community and are thankful for our royal family for providing an opportunity for us to showcase our pieces and keep the craft alive. We can’t wait to see more hats entering street style and everyday wear! Perhaps the rise in hats is reflective of the political climate, we are in needs of a little lightness, some dressing up and some fun. Whatever it is, we’re embracing it with both hands!

1 comment

  • Jayne

    Very inspirational. New to Millinery myself but hoping to inspire people and create amazing memories for them. I love the idea that the hat could tell many tales in a persons life. Thank you x

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