Leading Milliners Showcase Their Latest Collections at London’s Premier College For Millinery
Some of London’s finest contemporary milliners are joining forces for a unique exhibition being showcased at Kensington and Chelsea College.
‘Crowns’ takes place at the college from November 18th – 28th. It brings together some the extraordinary work and the latest designs of leading milliners Gina Foster, Justin Smith Esquire, Keely Hunter, Sophie Beale, Harvy Santos, DeDe Valentine, Mary Jane Baxter and Sarah Cant – all alumni of the college’s internationally renowned Millinery Department.
‘a magnet for hat enthusiasts and stylists’ the exhibition celebrates and throws the spotlight on the diversity of creative talent that has emerged from the college.
The exhibition shows-off each milliner’s unique design vision and incorporates a range styles and techniques they mastered at the college. Guests can expect to see classic designs with a twist to more unconventional styles, as well as creations made using both cutting edge technologies and traditional hand-made techniques.
Two of the exhibiting milliners are also published authors, several are award winners and all have gone on to become successful names in millinery with a string high-profile clients including royalty and celebrity.
The exhibiting eight all learnt to hone their skills and perfect their craft on the college’s hugely popular higher level millinery courses under the guidance of industry expert tutors.
Sarah Cant, who is exhibiting at Crowns and is also Course Director for HNC Millinery at the college, said:
‘The exhibition will be an amazing showcase of the depth and versatility of millinery which has come from the HNC Millinery course. Over the years, the course has become a hothouse for contemporary millinery talent. For myself, the course transformed my career trajectory, giving me the focus and skills to enter the industry with confidence.’
Crowns opens to the public with a Private View held on Thursday 21st November at the college’s Chelsea Centre, which is just a stone’s throw away from the world famous Kings Road in the heart fashionable Chelsea. The Private View will start at 6.30pm and guests will have the opportunity to buy individual pieces from the collections, as well as meet the exhibiting milliners.
The exhibition runs from November 18th – 28th at the college’s Chelsea Centre gallery, Hortensia Road, SW10 0QS. The gallery is open week days only Monday – Thursday 10am-6pm, and Friday 10am-5pm.
Meet Kensington and Chelsea College’s exhibiting star milliners:
Sarah uses fluid, organic shapes that combine tradition with innovation. Her creations are sculptural bespoke hats and headpieces, designed to be as striking off the head as on. All of the pieces being shown are entirely handmade.
Sarah trained at Kensington and Chelsea College and worked for Stephen Jones before establishing her own label. Her work is regularly featured in leading International fashion press. Sarah is also the author of a key book about hat making.
Gina produces ladies occasion wear, bespoke hats, headdresses and fascinators. Her stylish ready-to-wear designs are sold from her London hat shop and her clients include film stars, royalty, fashionable brides and members of high society.
Justin Smith Esquire
Justin has been designing both classic hats and extraordinary couture under his own brand, J Smith Esquire, for over five years. His diffusion line is Mister Smith. His first collection debuted in 2007 at London Fashion Week under the New Generation sponsorship scheme and marked the beginning of a hugely successful millinery career.
Selected as one of Selfridges’ Bright Young Things, and the first milliner ever chosen for the
‘next big thing’ designer showcase. She was also invited this season by world renowned milliner Stephen Jones and The British Fashion Council to show at London Fashion Week as part of the BFC’s Headonism initiative. She is influenced by architecture and engineering, conceptual design and couture techniques to create new yet accessible unisex millinery. Her designs are described as headwear for a modern world that steps beyond the predictable. Keely’s creations encourage people to look at hats differently and see them as unique and beautiful objects.
Sophie was named
‘Britain’s Hottest New Milliner’ in 2012. Her designs are vibrant, captivating head pieces with a wistful delicacy that plays against a bold yet carefully considered line. Her work uncovers a gracefulness whilst indulging in extreme textures often found in unconventional materials. A fascination with opposing dualities, such as intricate simplicity with strong elegance, and light and darkness, shine through her fresh modern style. She is the winner of various awards, including Grazia Magazine’s national Hat Factor, judged by Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. Sophie was also part of a project celebrating the best of British millinery. Having worked with a selection of iconic milliners, she was head hunted for a position in the couture department at Stephen Jones. Her pieces are now sold internationally with a growing list of high-profile clients.
Harvy, Hat designer of the Year 2013 and winner of multiple other awards, creates unique pieces, entirely hand-made from both traditional and innovative materials. Harvy has worked for Noel Stewart, Stephen Jones and the Royal Opera House. His hats have appeared in The HAT magazine, The Saturday Telegraph Magazine, Brides Magazine, The Financial Times, Vogue Turkey and Harper’s Bazaar China.
DeDe creates extravagant and flamboyant bespoke hats and haute couture headpieces that are sculptural works of art. She has a strong client base for weddings, fashion houses, stylists, film & theatre, and is based in Surrey.
Mary Jane Baxter
Author and columnist, TV presenter, craft activist and milliner, Mary Jane’s dazzling career shows that hat-making is not the only outcome from studying millinery. Committed to getting the nation making, Mary Jane travels extensively in the UK to promote the revival of handicraft, recycling and remaking items of contemporary fashion as well as teaching and producing her own hats and headpieces.
Date published: 14 October 2013