My millinery journey started at Morley by chance, when I used a voucher that gave me the option to enrol to any unaccredited short course for £20.
As I was browsing through the list of courses, millinery caught my eye. I remember reading that it would involve steaming and blocking, and I immediately envisioned myself in some sort of Victorian industrial setting!
That first course was with Claire Strickland and even though the setting was less Victorian factory than in my imagination, I was mystified and hooked on millinery, nevertheless. I did another two short courses with Vesna Pesic and entered the V&A inspired by competition under her guidance. My piece didn’t get shortlisted, but I enjoyed the whole process very much.
By the end of that first year, I started an internship with Awon Golding, and I enrolled on the Level 2 course in Millinery with Jo Miller at the Chelsea site.
Finally, I enrolled for the HNC in Millinery at the Chelsea site with Sarah Cant, Ian Bennett, Vivienne Lake and Iona Montgomery. Studying millinery full time with the input of great tutors was a game changer.
During my HNC I entered the Feltmakers design competition, and I received 2nd prize!
The year didn’t come without its challenges. Just as we were entering graduate collection territory everything stopped due to Covid restrictions.
We picked up again in September but with less contact hours and more remote working.
I graduated with a distinction in December and since then, I did an internship with Justin Smith from J Smith Esquire and had my work featured in magazines like Document Journal and L’officiel Mexico. I also won an award through the Arts Society at Cockpit Arts that gives me a studio space for a year and some much-needed business coaching.
My interest in millinery didn’t come from a fashion perspective but rather an interest in form and its relation to human proportion. It follows on from my background in architecture and I certainly carried the same tenets along: the starting point for both is the human body and their function is to produce emotion. Working in architecture during the digital era I felt a sense of isolation from the tactile aspects of designing. I had already taken a career break to raise my small children and the engineering and problem-solving nature of millinery resonated with me enough to decide on a change of direction.
Human proportion also relates to my final collection which began by investigating how female body proportion in particular, has been manipulated during different time periods across different cultures, to conform to fleeting beauty ideals. Human bodies have been constricted, extended, padded and truncated to achieve the desired proportions between various body parts. Such manipulation has been closely related to undergarments that became more elaborate alongside technological innovations. These undergarments served a function instead of an aesthetic as they were supposed to remain hidden. Yet, they have a very distinct aesthetic in their astonishing engineering and materials used. I was particularly drawn to bustles of the 19th century, hoop skirts and corsets. My collection explores the forms and the materials of these undergarments and attempts to reimagine them as headwear.
I am amazed at how far I’ve come after signing up for what seemed then like a random course, and how everything seems to fall into place with every step I take. I am also forever grateful for my tutors and mentors sharing their knowledge and expertise so generously with me.
Morley College London offers millinery courses for adults at all stages of learning. Our team of expert tutors are hat makers and designers themselves and bring their expertise to their teaching. You’ll receive a firm grounding in key skills as well as learning about cutting edge styles and techniques in our professional millinery and fashion studios in Waterloo and Chelsea.
Want to create a fascinator for a special occasion or give an old jumper a new lease of life as an upcycled beret? Our specialist short courses will help develop skills in pattern development and cutting, felt blocking, sewing and finishing. Depending on your style, you can develop skills in vintage millinery or break the mould with contemporary designs. And if you’re confident on the hat stand, you can develop your skills further with advanced technique workshops.
Looking to start a career in millinery? Our Higher Education courses provide a firm grounding in professional skills while enabling you to experiment and find your own unique style as a designer and hat-maker. Our industry-focused curriculum ensures you’ll develop skills in couture, theatrical design and research. Our tutors will work with you to create a professional portfolio, ready to step into the world of millinery.