We the People of the United States need to take a page from the mother country and start wearing hats on special occasions.
I’m not talking about gluing toys on a wide-brim hat and taking it to the races. I’m talking about beautifully crafted objects of art that sit daintily atop one’s head.
One milliner who recently caught my attention does just that. London-based Juliette Botterill worked for uber-famous designer Philip Treacy before breaking out on her own.
Now, her pieces are worn by Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, Autumn Phillips, as well as for the house of Ralph & Russo.
Oooh, and Botterill’s dandy hat candy is stocked at London’s jewel of a department store, Fortnum & Mason.
Botterill was kind enough to take time out of her busy season (Royal Ascot and weddings make for a v. busy Botterill) to explain to me how she creates one of her signature hats.
TDD: How long does it take to make hat?
JB: For ready to wear — typically pieces take 1-3 days to make but a lot can depend on the availability of materials and how complicated a design is.
For a complete bespoke design this would take a little longer 3-5 days, with more consultations with the client. I will consult with clients on suitable silhouettes and colour options to compliment their outfit and can dye pieces to match perfectly.
What kind of material do you use?
There is a wide selection of materials I use to make the hat structure. These include traditional millinery materials such as sinamay fabric, (woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree) Straw, wool felt, silk , etc.
I always try to find the highest quality of any material I use. For trimmings and adornments the list is endless : from feathers, silk flowers, lace, beading etc. It is really down to imagination!
What is the difference between a hat and a fascinator?
A fascinator is usually a smaller design attached to a headband or hat elastic that sits perched on the head.
A hat tends to be a more substantial structure that will sit over the crown of the head or cover it. However, there are no rules in millinery, a hat can take many forms!
What made you want to go into millinery?
I have always had the desire to make things, I was brought up abroad, and in traveling a lot I was lucky to see many different cultures from an early age. Places like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea where there are lot of hand crafted industries and work with materials.
Later, I went on to study textiles at university. I was always interested in the construction of materials and the abundance of possibilities with what you could do with them. It was during my masters at Glasgow School of Art that I discovered millinery.
I stumbled across the book When Philip met Isabella [a collection of fashion editor Isabella Blow’s favorite Treacy hats] while researching a project in the library and found it fascinating; it instantly hit a chord with me.
What was the most outrageous hat you’ve ever made?
I am always continuing to design new shapes but I wouldn’t’ t say I make outrageous hats. I tend to design more classic elegant silhouettes.
I think one of the important parts of my job is to make sure that the person finds the perfect hat for them — whether that be big and bold and attention seeking or small and more discreet.
I believe my brand ethos has stayed the same since starting my business 3 years ago: creating handmade luxury hats made from high quality materials.
You’ve designed hats for Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, as well as for Autumn Phillips. Do you have a favorite of the designs you’ve made for these high-profile clients?
It is always lovely to see my hats on members of the royal family, I couldn’t possibly choose!