As Margaret has such a wealth of knowledge on the subject of hats, fascinators and more, we’ll hand you straight over to her now to share her knowledge.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business
With a creative background and a professional career in retail buying, I discovered millinery in 2010, as part of my buying responsibilities. Completely absorbed by the expansiveness of the creativity involved in model millinery and keen to acquire professional skills, I retrained at Leeds College of Art, graduating in 2013 with High Distinctions in Couture Millinery.
What motivated you to start your business?
I feel driven to communicate my enthusiasm for the art of model millinery – I derive a real buzz from by working with fabric, colour and textures to create beautiful headpieces, so after graduation in 2013, I established my couture millinery business based in the North East.
Tell us a little more about the day-to-day activities of your business
Daily you will find me in my studio meeting new clients, following up on commissions, researching the latest trends and creating seasonal collections.
Whether it be creating a couture headpiece or an entirely new collection it takes a lot of development and experimental work to follow a theme and make new headpieces to reflect this theme. Preparation, research and ongoing creative professional development are key.
If our readers were to order from you, what can they expect?
Here I am going to talk directly to your readers:
When you commission a bridal headpiece from me I love to be involved almost from the time you “find” the one and only dress! In our consultation we will discuss your dreams for your day, we will focus on style, colour, your hair, accessories and decoration, all these aspects will be crystallised in your very own unique headpiece.
After our initial meeting, often up to a year before the event, a bridal headpiece commission follows a similar format to a commission for a headpiece or hat for principal guest, though here the lead-time would be up to four months. So I am now going to talk in general terms about the process of commissioning a couture headpiece. For principal guests usually, but not always, the headpiece is made to co-ordinate with the wedding outfit – sometimes though the headpiece is the starting point. This is great fun – `I can really be creative then!
For me it is really important the most important to establish a rapport with the client – if you do not wear headpieces regularly you can feel slightly anxious about the process. Once we have broken the ice over a cup of coffee or a glass of prosecco, I encourage my client to try on as many different styles of headpieces as possible – the aim is to find a style that you, the client, is completely comfortable with, in fact one that you can forget you are wearing, but is flattering, and enhancing.
Meanwhile I am looking at your face shape, colouring, and getting to know the looks you like, and the image you wish to project. As we talk I guide the client so that together we design a couture headpiece, choosing the shape, colours the client becomes totally involved and committed in her headpiece. Finally our thoughts turn towards discussing our initial thoughts for the decoration.
The commissioning and making process takes about 8 weeks, and this period needs to be factored into the planning process for the event. After the initial meeting, we will meet again for a fitting once the basic piece is made, when we discuss the decoration and trimming in detail. Then I have great fun capturing your dreams when I trim the headpiece.
One last appointment follows for a final fitting – when we check that everything is completely right and the finished piece with its beautiful detailing will be revealed. This is when I show you how the piece is attached and is to be styled, and most important of all, the headpiece should be ready for collection. How exciting is that!
How can couples judge if a company is the right fit for their wedding?
Commissioning a couture headpiece is a very personal experience, it is important for the client to establish a rapport with her milliner, relaxing and enjoying the experience. A good guide is how many repeat commissions the milliner has accepted, as this is an indication of how easy her clients find her she is to work with!
What are your favourite moments from previous weddings you’ve been involved with?
When the bride or client sends me the photographs and they look wonderful, you can tell from their expression that they felt a million dollars in their dress or outfit and headpiece, and knew they looked it too!
The bigger picture – does your business offer goods/services outside of the wedding world? Tell us more
Millinery is an essential “must have’ accessory for any special family event, corporate or official occasion; and of course race days are also an opportunity to wear a wonderful headpiece, large or small, simple or dramatic. Just do it – commission one – and feel a million dollars!
What have you got planned for the next 12 months?
You will find my winter & cocktail range in the Design Room of Fenwick of York in November, when I will also be launching a new capsule collection of couture clutch bags to co-ordinate with the cocktail headpieces.
A number of exciting developments including millinery workshops in conjunction with the North’s great fashion and textile museum The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co Durham. Please ask hen party workshops details too (but not at The Bowes).
And finally, what or who inspires you and why?
I draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources, including visits to contemporary & fashion historical fashion and lifestyle exhibitions and through to travelling, and keeping up to date with creative professional development. My millinery muses are:
Model – Kate Moss – loved her wedding dress, Liberty Ross
Fashion – Alexander McQueen, Altuzarra
Style – Anna Mouglalis, Chanel couture
Millinery – Stephen Jones, Emma Yeo, William Chambers, Jane Taylor, Noel Stewart
Ideal client – Sophie Duchess of Wessex – great fashion style & millinery
Vintage muse – Audrey Hepburn
All images courtesy of MWW Millinery