Where do I gain inspiration for my up-cycled and original gems? Whilst I enjoy exploring my own creative ideas, there is of course no substitute for research and learning from some of the brightest stars in the millinery constellation. However when it comes to asking a hataholic to name their favourite designer, there will always be conflict. Some of us enjoy the whimsical floral artisty of Pip Hackett, while others crave the more abstract vibe of Philip Treacy or Stephen Jones. Then there’s the new kids on the hat block including Dawn Guibert and the theatrical De De Valentine. For the great unwashed (or as yet untainted) here’s the first in a series of pieces that will provide a quick race through some of the current maestros of millinery and a lexicon of great ideas.
Milliner William Chambers started hat making in 2007 – the same year Roisin Murphy wore his creations on tour! He set up his studio in Glasgow city center and now makes custom-designed hats for clients by appointment only plus his own stunning contemporary designs.
Brought up in North Lanarkshire, Chambers gained a First Class Hons degree in Textile Design at the Scottish College of Textiles before studying millinery at Glasgow’s Metropolitan University. He worked for luxury haberdashery VV Rouleaux before setting up William Chambers Millinery in 2008 after winning the VICE UK Creative 30 competition. He has won Accessory Designer of the Year three times at the Scottish Fashion Awards.
He exhibits his collections twice a year at London Fashion Week,and his hats are stocked in Harrods, Fenwick and Fortnum & Mason in London, Samuel’s Hats New York and on LoveHats.com. He opened his own hat shop in Glasgow city centre in 2014.
Celebrities who have worn his hats include Kelis, Suzi Perry, Joan Jett, Ana Matronic (Scissor Sisters), Roisin Murphy, Livia Firth, Anna Della Russo and Judy Murray, who commissioned a Chambers hat for her son Andy’s wedding – photos of which appeared in every UK newspaper the next day.
His hats have appeared in Vogue, Elle, Evening Standard, Style.com, Tatler, New York Post, The Telegraph, The Sun, Metro, Grazia, Red, Glamour, Conde Nast Brides, Wallpaper, Travel & Leisure, Nylon, The Herald, Harpers Bazaar, Paper, Sunday Herald and The Scotsman, and he features in the hardback book Couture Hats.
Chambers seeks to modernise millinery with a fresh look at how we dress the head today. Chambers’ taste for the avant-garde mixed with his knowledge of the retail sector results in designs that are at once both exquisite and wearable. He mixes traditional materials such as felt and sinamay with contemporary materials like latex, plastic and metallic leather, creating headwear that is both progressive and desirable. He takes his inspiration from many sources, but the biggest influence on his designs is his own flower-filled back garden: he is as keen a gardener as he is a milliner.
For my part I love his use of flowers and organic materials in his work and you can clearly see his influence in some of my own originals. The image on the left shows a William Chambers original from his bridal collection (£495) whilst the image on the right shows The Diva Bride (£180) from my own Hat Couture collection available from http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HatCoutureCreations