The renowned designer of glorious hats, fascinators and bridal headdresses Edwina Ibbotson studied millinery in London, Paris and New York before establishing her own atelier. She has been creating bespoke headpieces for more than two decades from her busy Battersea studio. Here she discusses how to pick the perfect hat
Many clients who come to me are unsure or unconfident because they are simply not used to wearing hats every day – they believe they don’t have a ‘hat face’. You develop an instinct for what works and 99 per cent of the time the first hat I put on someone is the one they eventually choose. Once we’ve agreed that this is the right shape and style, the hat can be refined for the outfit and occasion and then I make it to order.
“I’d say that 99 per cent of the time the hat I put on someone is the one they eventually choose’
The aim of any design – and this definitely holds true for wedding hats – is that it should be so comfortable that you forget you are wearing it. The first question I ask is the type of wedding and location – is it dressy or not dressy, at Westminster Abbey or in the countryside? While rules are there to be broken, wearing a hat is all about feeling confident in your choice. You want to look back at pictures of yourself years down the line and feel that the style worked for you and looked timeless.
Of course, as a milliner, I’d love people to start with the hat, but usually my clients have found the outfit first. I do have many customers who return year after year and very often they might have a favourite style or look – some even order the same design in multiple colours to carry them through the racing or wedding season.
I love working with brides too and a longer lead-time is always a good idea as everything is made here in the traditional way with a block and I hand dye fabrics and feathers, as well as creating details such as flowers by hand. While discreet headdresses and veils are always popular with brides, we are seeing a return of big hats for brides as well as for guests. Cake band hats (as popularised by the Duchess of Cambridge) are also becoming popular.
Edwina Ibbotson Millinery is located at 45 Queenstown Road, SW8. For appointments and to find out more about her designs, visit edwinaibbotson.co.uk
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