Award-winning milliner Katherine Elizabeth is quietly carving out a niche in the world of high end hats. Having studied under Stephen Jones, she has designed headpieces for the likes of Dita Von Teese and Lily Allen as well as for stage and screen. And while she is happy designing hats for the rich and famous, her favourite time of the year in Ascot, which starts today, because ladies are willing to take more risks and wear outrageous and structural designs.
Here Katherine discusses how she got into millinery, her influences and what you should look for this season in a hat.
I’ve loved fashion from an early age
I remember telling my dad at about 5 years old that I wanted to go into fashion but he didn’t really listen and then at 13 I told the school guidance counsellor that I wanted to be a fashion designer fashion but she told me to think of secretarial college. After school I studied textiles and art and decided to go to university and study a BA in art and design and the last module was hats, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a milliner. I like fashion but everything is so flat and precise but with hats it is 3D and you can sculpt and drape as you go along so that you can end up with something completely different and amazing than what you envisaged. I love that aspect of it.
My inspirations are from the 1920s to 1940s
I am also inspired by nature and I love buildings and that’s why I love London, the architecturness of the building. I used to work with milliner Stephen Jones and I have always looked up to him and Philip Treacy – as soon as you learn about hats you look to them. Stephen is one of the most amazing milliners so working with him in his studio was awe inspiring really. They made me blocked felt for two weeks solidly and my fingers were blue from the dye but the repetition means that you learn it properly, I also picked up some secrets of the trade to ensure the best results.
Working on the Galliano account for the Paris store and some of the Dior pieces were the highlights of my time there. I am also inspired by fashion designers such as Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen who have a crazy edge to their designs and whose work could also be classed as art.
England is the best place to be for a milliner
Britain is the fashion leader when it comes to hats. Although millinery started in Milan, people don’t tend to wear hats much in other countries. We wear to hats to wedding, English society do’s and at the races. I would love to design a hat for Lady Gaga, Kate Middleton and even Camilla. Singer Adele too as she is so beautiful. I’d love to get into the men’s market too and am making a hat at the moment for interior designer David Carter.
This season hats are all about bright colours
Look for fun colors to go with an Alice in Wonderland theme and bright beaded fabrics incorporated into the designs. This year there are less feathers and more structured headpieces.
For further information on Katherine’s creations visit her website www.katherineelizabethhats.com.