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Hats off to Margaret


Sep 24, 2016

A Northumbrian milliner is celebrating her first year in business by being invited to showcase her creations at two cutting edge international exhibitions marking London Hat Week and winning a place in the finals North of England Wedding Awards, for excellence in customer service.

Margaret Woodliff Wright set up her business at Doxford Newhouses near Alnwick after graduating with high distinctions in Couture Millinery from Leeds College of Art. The course taught her how to make hats and headpieces from scratch starting with the moulding process known as ‘blocking” through a myriad of couture techniques. The course also focussed on the design and marketing of couture millinery. Previously, Warwickshire-born Margaret, a graduate of Durham University, worked as a buyer for Selfridges London and the Fenwick flagship department store in Newcastle.

The prestigious London Hat Week is being staged across the capital between October 6th and 12th and celebrates the art of hats in the City. The official LHW exhibition will show hats created by some of the most talented contemporary international milliners so Margaret is delighted to be the only North East milliner selected to exhibit two hats at “Milliner X Artisan” in fashionable Petticoat Lane. She will also exhibit a headpiece at “Cupola”, an exhibition of hats by international designers being held in Kensington from Oct 9th to 11th.

For both exhibitions Margaret has submitted designs with a recycling theme. The Milliner X Artisan event sees Margaret’s designs inspired by the working woollen mills of Bradford. “Heald Wires”, an ephemeral metal headpiece uses (discarded) heald wires, an essential element of the working structure of a weaving loom whilst “Weft” is large wrapped piece-using wool from industrial cones.

The Cupola exhibition piece showcases skills of an altogether different nature. “le recyclage” is an up cycled headpiece created from a green Marks & Spencer woollen sweater bought from an Oxfam shop. Recycling symbols such as the green arrows and forestation images depicted on recycled items inspired the design of this piece.

Margaret said: “I’ve only been in business for a year, so it’s a real privilege to be selected to showcase my designs during London Hat Week. I’m also very proud as I was shortlisted in the new business category of North of England Wedding Awards for my customer service skills.

“Creatively I think of hats as wearable works of art, whether they are a couture design or a unique up cycled piece, I believe that hats should reflect both your personal style and personality.”

Margaret creates couture designs suitable for weddings, special occasions and events such as days out at the races. She also up cycles ‘retired’ hats and fascinators for clients, and crafts men’s and women’s caps from recycled fabrics including old cashmere jumpers.  Typically Margaret’s couture commissions each take around 50 hours to make from design to completion. One of her specialities is the creation of personalised trilbies and she has made a number of bespoke designs for members of various sporting clubs.

“I’m passionate about millinery & creating hats that my customers love to wear,” she said.

“Creatively what makes millinery so exciting is that you can work across so many different mediums and techniques. My collections stretch all the way from creating a recycled hat to designing bespoke high-end fashion.”

“Driven by the ever evolving world of fashion I get a real buzz from creating couture hats that are as at home at a country wedding or christening to being featured on the catwalk of an international fashion show.”

By Emily