Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Heavenly hats

I love hats, sadly I don't wear a hat as often as I used to – but as an art student I wore a Boy George style black felt hat covered in brooches; when I got my first job I had to walk past a hat shop in St Christopher's Place on my way to meetings with authors in London, if the meeting had gone well on the way back I'd buy a hat; my favourite was a leather and brocade beret with a silk tassle.

I'm thrilled to see that hats are BIG this week – a fab looking exhibition has just opened at the V&A in London, which prompted an interesting article in the FT last weekend. I'd never thought of wearing a hat as being an 'English' thing – but now I think about it traditional English occasions do seem to need a hat – Ladies'Day at Ascot, garden parties, watching cricket on the village green, weddings . . .

Sixteen years ago today I wore this hat when I married Cliff . . .

It fitted like a glove – no it didn't, it fitted like a made to measure hat! I wore it all day; I didn't want to take it off; in fact I forgot I was wearing it! The lily on the back exactly matched the real ones in my bouquet and the buds were made from the same fabric as my skirt and jacket. Today it lives in a box in the top of the wardrobe, but yesterday I lifted the lid and took it out just to admire the work of the milliner who made it . . .

It was made for me by a young designer who had a hat stall on Enfield market – I was attracted to his hats like a wasp to a jam butty! We got talking, he'd recently graduated from St Martin's Art College and was making hats for some very prestigious cat walk shows. "Would you make me a hat for my wedding?" I asked, and he did. I see in the FT article that Andrew Bristow is teaching the millinery course at the London College of Fashion (if he has a web site I'd do a link - if anyone knows it let me know).

Andrew's family have been in touch with me to tell that sadly Andrew passed away on 26 December 2009. They have set up a web page in tribute to him here. He was a talented and creative milliner who gave so much to his students and all those who wore, and still wear, his hats. I am so pleased that I met him and to own two of his unique creations.


  1. well I've never worn hats, despite our scorching sun, always thinking they didn't suit me. Until...three weeks ago I was at a market and M. saw a hat and said to try it on. I got talking to the saleswoman and she explained in detail the sort of hat that would suit me by the size of my face and gave me one to put on and, lo and behold, it did suit me and I bought it! My great aunt was a milner and made beautiful hats. If I'd had some help earlier on, I might have been more confident about wearing them. Your wedding hat is wonderful.

  2. That is a beautiful hat. I love hats too but don't often wear one.

  3. That's very very lovely Celia. What a lovely memory. Happy Anniversary!

    BTW, missed the stalls at the Handmade fair - many thanks for the link though.

    I'm having one at Jimmy's Farm Farmers' Market next Saturday though! Maybe see you there?

  4. I heard a piece on Radio4 this afternoon about this exhibition! They have one of Queen Victoria's bonnets next to a top hat of Prince Albert's. Sounds fascinating, I might pay it a visit!

  5. That's a lovely hat! I'd love to see the whole ensemble! I'm very fond of top-hat styles for women.

  6. I found this article because I 'googled' Andrew Bristow looking for his website and I am very sad to find he has passed away. He led a one of our millinery projects when I was studying at K&C College in 2000. He was so interesting and made a huge impression on me. What a huge loss to the millinery industry.

    1. Hello Audrey, I'm so sorry you had to find the sad news about Andrew on my blog. He was a lovely talented person and I have very fond memories of sitting in his workshop planning my wedding outfit – he actually designed the skirt for me by just pleating and pinning the fabric around me, then I took it home and stitched it! As you say, a huge loss to millinery and fashion design.
      Best wishes, Celia xx

  7. Hi there, the same as Audrey above, I was looking for Andrew's website too and came across your blog. What awfully sad news about Andrew, such a generous and lovely guy. I took several part time millinery courses with him at London College of Fashion 2000 - 2005 and have never forgotten his great and natural and always comical teaching. I was hoping to find him to train further with him. He was a great link from that 80s London diy fashion scene and had trained with the best too, having lots of lovely anecdotes about Shirley Hex and many others and encouraging the confidence in his students to just try out what you imagined and always find a way to make it work. Such a lovely and positive fellow. May he rest in peace. Thanks for so much help and wonderful fun days learning with you Andrew. Much love - Michelle Miles Xx

  8. It's almost impossible to find a hat like that on my place :(


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