The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A trip to London

June 2012
Strange how things all happen at once, sods law I think its called! We are all accustomed to it i think. End of Year Shows on the horizon and the next exhibition that I am guest curating at Hat Works, plus the everyday work stuff all piled in front of me.

Part of my teaching/research work and the Hat Works exhibition was to do some interviews with key milliners in London. Excited - terrified - all in the mix.

As I walked down St James' to Lock and Co the Horse Guard Cavalry riding be seemed like a perfect good omen.

Workroom of Sylvia Fletcher, the couture milliner at Lock's

First up was a meeting with Sylvia Fletcher at Lock's. Praying that I would work the recorder properly and that I would ask the right questions. Sylvia is often overlooked in the millinery world of excess and brashness, her work has a simpleness and effortlessness that is always wearable and adds that something special to the wearer. This had been shown earlier that week at the Jubilee Pageant on The Thames when the Duchess of Cambridge wore one of Sylvia's creations, a striking red beret.

Duchess of Cambridge
When asked about how it felt to see the Duchess in one of her hats Sylvia could say just one word 'Delighted' she was really thrilled. In a glittering millinery career she has had many highlights this being one of them.

Pages from Sylvia's book 'Headfirst'
 Sylvia began her millinery career at 16 joining a large workroom, where apprentices were allotted certain tasks as they learn their craft, she rose quickly in this environment and was designer at 18. Listening to Sylvia you realise how quickly the millinery world has changed, not so long ago your training began at the atelier not in the college and now there are so few ateliers left to enable the college graduate to cut their teeth and learn those skills.
Ladies Department at Lock's
Other changes we talked about were materials the loss of esparterie and the beautiful silk veiling and linen like straws. Not that the changes in materials affects the stunning headwear that could be seen the showroom. As Ascot was approaching there were still customers arriving hoping to find the right hat and that usual expectation that a hat could be made in a day or two! The team at lock's were fantastic and one could see why the ladies' keep coming back to this most elegant shop.

Lock and Co, St James, London

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