Becoming a Milliner

My road to millinery has been a little unusual.  When the time came for me to choose what to do when I grew up, I decided that I wanted to get into fashion and design. I applied and was accepted at Milan’s top fashion and design school. The day of my visit to the school came but when I walked in I froze: there was no way I was going to go to that school!

Why?

In Italy you have to select your senior school when you are about 12 and, walking into a school at that age, where most people were super fashionable, just scared me. So, I persuaded my mum to pull me out of the school and I became, well … an accountant!

I promised myself, before starting accountancy school, that I would only do a year and then start again at a different fashion design school.  But by the time I was 14 I had made good friends and school life wasn’t all that bad – so I stuck with it.

I don’t regret my decision, it has taken me where I am today: I moved to the UK after finishing school to learn English and I’m still here today. I’ve run a successful office support business for the past 12 years, and have a fantastic family and great friends.

But my creative self has never left me and over the years I have always dabbled in the arts and crafts – flower arranging, glass fusing, silversmith, and I’m never shy of a sewing project or two.  But I’ve always loved accessories: shoes, bags and hats.

I bought my first hat at the age of 16 with one of my first pay packets, and I still have that hat. I cannot believe that it’s now called vintage!

It was five years ago, whilst looking for a hat for my stepson’s wedding, that I had the opportunity to chat with a milliner, in a hat shop in an arcade in Bristol.  I fell in love with the art, and it was that little shop which made me start to believe that I could get a link back to what my twelve-year-old self wanted to do, all those years ago.

Within a year I had become a student of Rose Cory.  Rose has been called by likes of Vogue Magazine as “the Milliners’ milliner”.  Rose made hats under Rudolf, was the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen’s Mother‘s milliner, and held a Royal Warrant.

Rose believes that millinery should be taught as a traditional craft and her passion for her craft is still with her today, over fifty years after she started as an apprentice to Rudolf.

Her passion and love for all things hat related is contagious, and I realised that I had finally found the thing my creative self really wanted to do, all those years ago.

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