British women have always been mad for hats.
The late Isabella Blow would step out wearing the most daring creations, custom pieces are de riguer for weddings and important parties, and at next weekâ€™s Royal Ascotâ€“dating back to 1711, the most important event in the British social calendarâ€“the parade of colorful and gravity defying hats on display garner as much interest as the horse races.
For years, the legendary Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones have cornered the hatting market, but a host of young London upstarts are not only carrying on the trade with brash styles, but are redefining the business of millinery. Just in time for this yearâ€™s Ascot, hereâ€™s a short list of the cityâ€™s hatters worth paying attention to:
Piers Atkinson: he has been a fashion Renaissance man after moving to London in 1995. Since then, heâ€™s worked as a party organizer, as a press lieutenant for Zandra Rhodes and Mandi Lennard, as a fashion editor, and now a hat-making extraordinaire, whose incredibly cheeky work is an irreverent antidote to traditional British millinery.
Nasir Mazhar, hairdresser at Vidal Sasson who transitioned from cutting to sculpting wondrous pieces for the head. The twentysomething Mazhar has worked with the whoâ€™s-who of Londonâ€™s fashion talents, including Gareth Pugh and Richard Nicoll, the Royal Opera House, the Globe Theater, and none other than the worldâ€™s biggest pop star, Lady Gaga (recently, his futuristic binocular head piece was featured in Gagaâ€™s epic video, â€œAlejandroâ€œ, directed by Steven Klein).
Justin Smith was also a hairstylist before transitioning into millinery. Smith worked at Tony and Guy as a creative director before setting up his shop And People Like Us, and he also completed a Masters in Millinery from the prestigious Royal College of Art. Since then, he has received a New Gen Sponsorship, an award from ITS, an has been shortlisted by the British Council as a UK Young Fashion Entrepreneur in 2010.
SÃ¸ren Bach began his career as a hairstylist. Unlike Smith, who uses a diverse range of materials, Bach sticks to refining his signature fur dyeing techniques. His unique approach has caught the attention of style icons Kate Moss and the indomitable Grace Jones.
Noel Stewart has trained under the tutelage of Stephen Jones at Christian Dior, and forged a place in the Londonâ€™s millinery movement when he established his label in 2003. He has collaborated with Roland Mouret, Marios Schwab, and Hussein Chalayan for their catwalk shows, Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, and Kiera Knightley are fans, has exhibited at the V&A for Stephen Jonesâ€™ anthology of hats, and is stocked at numerous international boutiques’
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