Margaret Woodliff Wright, a well-known hat designer from rural Northumberland is making spectacular headway in the millinery world.  Not only did Margaret find one of her hats in the top three from creations from 75 of the world’s finest hat makers in a recent prestigious competition, she’s also taken the bold step of rebranding her entire company. The Northumberland Milliner, as Margaret’s business is now known, features a collection of stunning headpieces and accessories inspired by the landscape and beauty of her home county.  The collection is now tipped to be a winner with wearers of fine hats worldwide.

Margaret is no stranger to winning, having enjoyed major success at several notable millinery competitions in recent years.  The recent ‘Influence’ competition – in association with Rachel Trevor Morgan the British millinery designer who holds the royal warrant to supply hats to The Queen – was organised by Parkin Fabrics, the UK’s leading supplier of creative millinery and fashion materials. Each milliner was provided with the same basic materials and the competition required the entrants to create a unique hat with the theme of ‘Influence’.  Using the red felt, black veiling and wire in her creation, Margaret created a stunning hat entitled ‘Aureole’.  Her design was influenced by the work of the 20th century Austrian milliner, Adele List, and inspired by the fabric and wallpaper creations of German textile designer, Ulf Moritz.

Margaret says, “I’ve always been a big fan of List’s designs and techniques, whose millinery creations were distinguished by intricate styling, combining shape, proportion and texture simultaneously. As machined made hats flooded the market, List concentrated on making designs in complex styles that could not be replicated in a factory setting. I’m also hugely influenced by what I experience in daily life.  I became aware of the work of Ulf Moritz when working for Fenwick of Newcastle as the interior design buyer.  His use of texture, colour and light really spoke to me.  So influenced by the techniques of Adele and inspired by Ulf’s designs I created Aureole – a halo style headpiece based on felt centre, it’s veil like brim is overlaid with finely cut strips of felt. I doubt I’ll ever get to a stage where learning more about millinery isn’t my passion. I’m constantly developing new techniques and styles and absorbing influences from everything around me.”

“It was on a recent master class in France where I made the decision to rebrand my business as The Northumberland Milliner. I’m immensely proud of my home county, especially our unique Northumberland tartan – our instantly recognisable black and white tweed.  Our region has an outstanding palette of colours to choose from and a wealth of textures.  For example, I love using pheasant feathers in my designs and I’m looking forward to bringing Northumberland’s vibrant natural beauty to the rest of world in my hat and corsage designs.”

Margaret Woodliff Wright lives and breathes hats and millinery design.  Her knowledge of this skilled craft is immediately apparent and her passion for the subject is infectious.  In fact, Margaret likes nothing more than sharing her experiences and knowledge, organising millinery workshops as well as talking about the sources of her inspiration, her creative processes and her exhibitions.  She’s currently looking forward to delivering a talk entitled, ‘A Royal Celebration of Hats and Flowers’ at The Northumberland Golf Club, Gosforth Park on Wednesday 11th April at 2pm (tickets are available from http://artfund.org/Northumberland)

With Margaret’s hats increasingly gracing the heads of hat fans from the UK and beyond, The Northumberland Milliner is head and shoulders above the competition.