Sunday, 15 August 2010

Atelier Millinery- New Shop!

Exterior of Atelier Millinery

Hats are curious things. They have been deeply unfashionable for men and women since the mid 1960’s. Now they are relegated to the role of bridal tribal flying saucers or little sticky outey feather fascinators which often seem to have something of the muppet puppet about them. Of course at the high end of fashion they have never departed from the catwalk and have always had a small but passionate fan base; the late Isabella Blow comes to mind.

Wearing a hat versus not wearing a hat is the difference between looking adequate and looking your best. (Martha Sliter)

Hat detractors point to the awkwardness of carrying them around and the difficulty of finding somewhere to put them. It is a chicken and egg situation, when hats disappeared so did hat stands and hooks. If hats were popular again these would reappear, they never went away in truly stylish bars and restaurants. As for the awkwardness, these claims come from the same fashion forward people who drag massive stupid bags around and totter on gladiator heels. I am passionate about hats and in the winter make an effort to wear one, even if it is only a beret. If our inner-city yout can slope about in over-priced baseball caps quite happily all year round it is hard to understand the reluctance elsewhere to don headgear.

If a woman rebels against high heeled shoes, she should take care to do it in a very smart hat. (George Bernard Shaw)

In my opinion hats have wonderful advantages, although they need to suit your face and character they do not rely on diets or the vagaries of fashion and its innate body fascism. Few things will make you look as good, or as different as simply putting on a good hat. Stored they last for decades, they also keep your head dry, warm and hide bad hair. Of course in vintage circles hats have never gone out of fashion but there is a paucity of places to buy them, especially new or bespoke. I have mentioned Lynette in Islington for vintage titfers and Orizu for repro but a new resource for those interested in millinery has appeared in London. Additionally it is conveniently located in Kingly Court, near Carnaby Street and very close to my favourite hair artiste, Miss Betty and a plethora of other vintage minded shops.

Lots of lovely hats.

Atelier Millinery is on the first floor of Kingly Court. Within you can find hats ready to buy (for both gents and ladies), trimmings and hat making materials and also attend classes. You can also commission a hat, particularly useful when all the department store have on offer are rows of mad looking fascinators or dowdy straws in colours you don't want.


The shop is small and reminds me of a sewing box, large antique display cases hold a variety of trimmings, ribbons and veiling, some of which are vintage (such as ostrich feathers in a range of shades) and/or sourced from abroad. This is particularly useful as new trimmings often don’t match old hats, and vintage hats often need to be repaired or pepped up. Of note to forties buffs are the poppies and pansies made of antique ribbon. A make do and mend staple when old Edwardian dresses were often denuded of their trimmings to produce hat decorations during the war. Atelier offer classes in making these flowers which make equally charming brooches and hair decorations.

Ribbon pansies.

Ribbons and hat pins.

It is difficult to learn millinery in London in a hobbyist sense, the main part-time classes at Morley run in the day time, otherwise it is case of working for a milliner. For dilletantes there is little opportunity to mess around with straw and felt. Atelier run courses in hat making including straw panamas, cloche hats and most appealing to me, 1950’s skull caps. If you consider you get tutoring, materials and a home made hat for the cost they are reasonable, the price list is available here.

You can flirt with a fan in your hand. You can flirt holding a cigarette, too. But a woman can really flirt with a hat. (Dolores Foster)

From the vintage point of view the range has plenty of possibilities; I saw a charming small hat in a silvery gold fabric with a fluff of feathers. A million miles away from cheap high street fascinators, it reeked of thirties Jean Harlow in a silky bias dress and Hollywood glamour. I was also taken by a turquoise hand blocked straw decorated with a vintage cherry trimming which had a kooky feel and would compliment a thirties or forties day outfit perfectly (see picture below). The gentlemen were also well served with a selection of panamas and caps. And as for the Dandies out there remember this could be an opportunity to order that mustard and burgundy fedora you’ve been yearning for.

Like any other hand crafted or bespoke item the hats are not particularly cheap but they are good value. Hats are pricey items, but remember they can be re-trimmed and they really are one of those things where cheapness is actually noticeable. Atelier’s hats are comparatively inexpensive. For the vintage-minded Atelier Millinery could be a useful resource, run in a co-operative way by people enthusiastic about their product and therefore deserveing of custom. I suspect they will do well with the Summer wedding/Race going crowd who can get their Treacy quality hats at a snip. However I would encourage vintage types, steampunkesses and others to have a look. It can be a nightmare to match hats to vintage clothes but a well placed hat band and trimming can make all the difference and there are very few places with informed staff who can advise you. If you don’t believe me just try Debenhams!

Comments make my day so please do! x

The rush of power to the head is not as becoming as a new hat. (Helen Van Slyke)


Angel said...

That shop looks amazing!! What is the price range of thier ready made hats??

b. said...

I do adore a lovely hat and although my vintage collection is non~existant as of yet, I like to borrow a leaf out of the lad's books with my fedoras and trilbys.

Now all I need is a few other styles that are far more lady like!
Although I still want my boater too...

That looks like a fantastic shop ~ good thing it is overseas from me or I would be spending more money again.

b. of Depict This!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post. Do you know of Lily Lewis?

I find her stuff really interesting and well executed (I don't know enough about vintage to know how faithful it is to the periods), but she does both hats and fascinators from a range of eras. I think there's a bespoke option and it all seems to be quite affordable (although I am a pauper so I can still seldom spare the money for a new hat!).

Foxy Coxy said...

Oh dear - another reason not to go to Kingly Court.

Fabulous looking shop though and well worth a visit.

For those of you going with your gentleman in tow - head towards Covent Garden and new roe to Laird London, who sell 'hats and cpas' for gentlemen.

Porcelina said...

How wonderful! I'm putting it on my list of places to visit when I come to London.
Miss P xx

Atelier said...

Thanks for the lovely review. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Tina said...

Thanks for the review. That's just the sort of place I was looking for. I have a wedding to go to in 9 weeks and need to match a handbag.
Cheers. Tina

Tina said...

Further comment - I visited the shop today and got the perfect hat and trimmings to match my outfit for the wedding. Thanks for the post. It was a great help.

Anonymous said...

Great shop, I will keep checking in to see if something takes my fancy. I buy a new hat every season from Lock's of St James, but it's great to know there are other shops out there to cater for my whim.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the knowledge. Well done!


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