“Would you like to work on a project with the milliner Sarah Cant?” Nicky Malone from the eponymous PR company gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. “Ahhh, yes!” I (pretty much) screamed into the phone, as I was walking down the Leamington high street pushing the stroller down the street. Having worked with Nicky last year on a hat project, I knew what fun awaited and couldn’t believe my luck.
Shortly after I began dating my husband John, I developed a fascination for the famous hats that the British wear to weddings, special events, and the horse races. After attending a few weddings together, I quickly noticed the gorgeous head ornaments that emerged for these special events. They seemed so distinct, yet so natural for the English women that modeled them so naturally.
(Also, remember Princess Eugenie’s hat for Will and Kate’s wedding? That drew major international attention to the tradition, didn’t it?)
Sarah Cant’s story is fascinating; she came from the U.S. for a quick year to do her doctorate at Oxford in French literature (yes, I know – not only is she incredibly creative but she’s also academically brilliant!). Twenty years later, Sarah is now the head of the millinery course at Kensington and Chelsea College, a.k.a. the establishment for the next generation of hat makers, the same place where she did her millinery training. Plus, she wrote a book called Hats!, which has been translated into several languages. Finally, Sarah has her own couture millinery studio, working with the most renowned and admired women and fashion institutions in the country.
What struck me the most when I saw Sarah’s work was the pulsating energy in her pieces. Each piece makes a statement in its own way – some with delicate wire trimmings, others with satin bands that look like ribbons blowing in the wind. Others, like an upcoming AW17 hat, dominate the room with a military edge and dazzling gold trim. Each hat has a vibrant character but when worn will blend with your personality – they allow you to wear them. I discovered this was even truer when I visited Sarah’s studio for the first time.
It’s always a bit daunting for me to meet new collaborators and clients for the first time. Sarah and I had spoken on the phone a bit prior to meeting but nevertheless; the butterflies were still there when I walked up the steps to her gorgeous studio. But there was nothing to stress about. Sarah is a very warm person, instantly making me feel at home in her sunlit atelier. Offering me a cup of tea and a biscuit (a woman after my own heart!), Sarah quickly sparked our hours-long conversation, and we set up for the interview. The video above is a peek into that lovely spring afternoon, where I learned not only about the fascinating world of millinery but also what life as a milliner is truly like.
I hope that you feel like you were the third person in the room with us. Pour yourself a cup of tea, grab a chocolate biscuit (or cookie!), and join us. Stay tuned for my next article, where I share the incredible experience of creating a bespoke hat with Sarah!
Hats off to you,
Check out Sarah’s website: Sarah Cant Couture Millinery
Sarah Cant Online Shop: https://sarah-cant-couture-millinery.myshopify.com/
Follow along on Instagram: @sarahcantmillinery