I recently had a really fun breakfast with Edwina Elkington, a British milliner based in London. Edwina is one of those people who has a real sense of style, she is always dressed impeccably in chic outfits. She is also a lot of fun with boundless energy, and a passion for crafting elegant and beautiful hats.
Edwina’s hats are really quite cool – she tends to work with velour felt, and her current collection is made up of elegant, luxurious hats, in gorgeous colours. They are works of art, beautifully crafted and structurally impressive, with delightful details including felt bows and trimmings and feathers attached jauntily to headbands. Her designs are contemporary, but the hats are timeless and most importantly they are wearable. The Charlotte hat is your answer to the wedding season, the Chloe is the finishing touch to your ‘weekend in the countryside’ outfit, and you could pair the Tamara hat with jeans one day, with a smart dress the next. And I just love the Gaby hat – it is ideal for a winter wedding.
Edwina’s favourite hat from her current collection is the Cosima hat – she has made both a grey and a blue version. Grey is her current colour, she is enjoying incorporating the cool neutral tone into her designs. I particularly like her bold use of colour, with trimmings to match – the hats are both understated and incredibly stylish.
Edwina’s love for making hats began when she made head pieces for a fashion show at the V & A, as part of a Costume Design course at Wimbledon College of Arts. Inspired by this experience she went on to do a two year Millinery course in Leeds. She spent the summer interning for the designer Gina Foster, who she says has been a big inspiration, and once she graduated spent 6 months working for the creatively flamboyant Louis Marriette. She has also recently gained a distinction in her DGA (diamond diploma), and hopes to incorporate diamond headpieces into future collections.
Edwina makes all her hats herself at home in London, and she explained the process of hat making to me – steaming the felt, stretching it and pinning it over a wooden block (this is in the shape of a head) until the required shape is attained, and then leaving it to set. Once the felt has dried she adds a lining, Edwina tends to use silk, and next the trimmings are added. Her fabrics are all bought in Britian – the felt comes from Yorkshire, the trimmings from London. There can however be hazards to working at home – she once stood on a needle which went horizontally right through her big toe, bizarrely not causing any pain at all and it was only removed after a couple of days – and felt needles are not definitely not small!!
Currently she sells them via her website www.edwinaelkington.co.uk, you can choose one of her current designs as is, or in a colour of your choice, or commission something completely unique – she has a lead time of a 3 – 4 of weeks. She enjoys the process of working with a client to achieve the look they are after, or creating a piece for a specific occasion. She is very good at knowing what style suits your height and look. Most of all she enjoys creating something you can keep forever, a timeless piece that you will wear again and again. Her hats really are an everyday fashion accessory, to be worn and loved like a pair of shoes or a handbag, an essential part of your wardrobe, everyone should own a hat!
Eventually she would like to have her own store and be stocked in boutiques – in particular Net-A-Porter. And she would love to see her hats on the Duchess of Cambridge and The Londoner.
It was such a fun morning, I loved learning all about the hat making process, and they really are such fabulous pieces in great colours, definitely have a look at her beautiful website.
Photos by Sophie Bolesworth