Turning Heads: The Return of the London Milliners
You might not realise it, but we’ve always been here, steaming felts over our ancient hat blocks and nestling feathers into straw, tucked away in hidden corners of London: the milliners of our bustling capital city.
Hats fell out of favour in the early 2000s, considered perhaps a little old-fashioned, or intimidating. For years the London millinery community has been working away in secret, waiting for the right moment to step back into the light. Well, the moment is now!
After some years in the wilderness, hats are roaring their way back onto runways, highstreets and the heads of some of our best loved stars. Whether it’s Rihanna donning a huge, fuzzy number by Benny Andallo, or cowboy-hat clad models for Ralph Lauren’s 2023 collection, all the sharpest dressers know that a good hat can be the icing on your sartorial cake.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that it’s London hat-makers leading the charge. We have pedigree after all, with giants such as Stephen Jones and Phillip Treacy part of our hat-making history. Excitingly, the current hat-wearing renaissance is creating new champions too. With London Hat Week becoming more popular year on year, and a vibrant and growing community of Instagram milliners hot on the heels of these classic designers, the community and craft is developing at pace and it’s fantastic to see.
Here at Jess Collett Milliner, we’ve seen a huge resurgence in demand for hats in all kinds of styles. With the weather turning chilly, we’ve seen customers clamouring for winter trends such as berets, baker caps and beautiful felt creations, but let us not forget the endless possibilities offered by summer styles: Chanel style boaters, embroidered raffia sun hats, oversized sun hats and buckets hats, all making a comeback and all perfect for that mid-winter getaway in the sun.
We’ve also seen new kinds of people walking in the door, inspired by the idea that maybe they too can pull off a daring and desirable hat. It’s no wonder: Jess always says a hat is ‘your passport to adventure’ and that a good hat can take you places. Now more people than ever are wondering where they might go, with the help of the right headgear. Gone are the days of only catering to the traditional racing and shooting crowds: hats are branching out.
On the subject of the races, we were delighted to be named one of the best milliners for Ascot-worthy headpieces by Tatler, the Telegraph and Town & Country earlier this year, after Maya Jama turned it out in one of our flamboyant, floral occasion pieces.
There’s certainly a move towards lightness and fun at the moment, perhaps the news-cycle has got all of us feeling a little gloomy. It makes sense then, that we milliners are seeing more of you in our little shops and dream-factories. A hat is more than just a piece of clothing: it’s a symbol, a way to add a little bit of magic to your day, for when you just need to escape, dress-up and feel like your most fabulous self. Who doesn’t need a little of that right now?
Whatever the cause of this ‘return of the hat’, we’re embracing it, and really excited to see where the collective whimsy and wit of our London millinery community takes the art in this new golden age. So if you’ve been waiting for your moment to shine, pondering whether to try something different and draw a little attention, why not consider treating your head to a hat that shows off all your personality, expresses your inner creativity, and helps you to turn heads? We (and our hat blocks) are ready and waiting for you.
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