The Most Illustrious British Milliners

Walter Raymond

Who are the favorite milliners of European nobility?

The restoration of the British monarchy—in 1660—under King Charles II, also known as the merry monarch, gave way to a less restrictive era with a more flexible creative spirit, stimulating the flourishing of the arts. It was during this revival—which also included fashion—that the milliner Robert Davis opened a store on St. James Street, in 1676, to meet the growing demand for hats among the upper classes. By 1850, the traditional British bowler hat was created providing a touch of class to the gentlemen who wore it. This model was strong enough to protect them from a sneak attack or a low branch.

Britain's Hatmakers
Janet Taylor design.

A century and a half later, Lock & Co. Hatters still receives its clientele at number 6 St. James Street. Its catalog is a showcase of models that became recognizable through cinema and television classics. Some examples include the Panama hats, the Sinatra or Borsalino style that characterized the 1950s, as well as the memorable London tweet caps, popularized by the famous character Sherlock Holmes.
Different Styles

Jane Taylor‘s atelier at 253 Kings Road, is often visited by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who has adopted exclusively the hats and accessories signed by the designer. Her notable avant-garde accessories inspired by taxidermy, antique prints and natural motifs are both surprising and captivating.

Britain's Hatmakers
Gina Foster designs.

Among Taylor´s legion of fans we find some distinguished names such as the Duchess of Cambridge, Zara Anne Phillips, and Princess Eugenia of the Royal House, as well as members of the European royalty such as Princess Mary of Denmark, the great Marian Duchess of Luxembourg and Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway. The list also includes artists and movie stars like Kate Winslet, Beyonce, Kate Moss and Amal Clooney, who have graced the covers of major publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, ID Magazine and Vanity Fair wearing her designs.

Rachel Trevor Morgan, another notable milliner, is known for her beautiful handmade works and painstaking designs that enhance the elegance of those who wear them. Her pieces are characterized by a perfect balance between creativity, fashion and glamour.

Her elaborate finishes—all handmade—result in absolutely exclusive hats. Her workshop, decorated in the style of the 17th century, is located at 18 Crown Passage, a few steps from the junction with the historic St. James’s Street. Her most notable customer is Queen Elizabeth II, who has sported her creations on major events such as the Royal Ascot, her 80th birthday and the celebration of her Diamond Wedding Anniversary at Westminster Abbey.

Britain's Hatmakers
Rachel Trevor Morgan designs.

Gina Foster cultivates a sober, elegant and very British style from her atelier located in 221 Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Her particular attention to aesthetic details places her customers in the best dressed lists of the most relevant social events. The rigorous evaluation prior to the design and manufacture of the hat includes examining the outfit the lady will wear and taking account the time, place and type of social commitment, thus achieving a unique hat or headdress.
A different view from Glasgow

William Chambers´s atelier is located at 168 Ingram St. in Glasgow, Scotland. The award-winning designer creates his prized pieces by hand. He has a different concept on how to cover a head, and surprises his clients with combinations of traditional fabrics such as felt and sinamay and other more contemporary materials such as latex, plastic or metallic leather.

Chambers explained that his inspiration comes from various sources, while emphasizing that most of his creations arise from the contemplation of his own garden. Images of his designs have appeared on the covers of various renowned publications such as Vogue, Elle, New York Post, Glamour, and The Sun.  ■

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