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Hats for the Ladies
Liz Felix has been a milliner for over fifteen years. Initially, making hats just for her daughter, she now runs her own millinery business. Complete with a host of clients ranging from the average housewife to the rich and famous.
"I haven't got a hat to wear with my outfit." Does this phrase sound familiar?
Around this time of year it's an expression resonating in women's bedrooms across the land. Being immaculately dressed for Ascot is essential, but so is having the perfect hat to match your outfit.
In the run up to Ascot, Liz Felix, a Berkshire based Milliner receives tens of calls from anxious women in search of their dream hat.
She works in a very niche market, where all her hats are made to order.
With the world's most prestigious racing event and numerous weddings to cater for May and June are by far her busiest months.
It's not unknown for Liz to work twelve-hour days in order to provide the finishing touches to a ladies outfit.
"Ascot is more exciting because people want something more extravagant, so I can be more artistic.
"I have a lot more fun with the hats people are wearing to that event", says an enthused Liz.
She first started making hats fifteen years ago. Initially they were for her daughter, then for friends and after a short while for clients. As time went on she became more daring and creative.
Liz's talents soon had her selling mini masterpieces in a nearby Reading hat boutique. She then decided to study millinery at the London College of Fashion.
On finishing the course, she felt the time was right to set up her own millinery business. Liz Felix Milliners was born.
To be a milliner, you need an artistic mind, strong work ethic and a very steady pair of skilled hands.
For Liz, making hats for her clients is a democratic affair. Giving them what they want is at the heart of every creation.
"My clients range enormously. They can be anyone from the lady down the road who's going to her daughter's wedding right the way through to people who go to Ascot every year.
"It's really wide ranging, which makes it all the more interesting."
No stranger to the rich famous, she has designed hats for many of the top names. However, there are still several people she would like to design headwear for.
"Ruby Wax is very outgoing. I think I'd be able to be very creative with her designs. She'll be able to carry it off because she’s a fun, larger than life character.
"Also I'd love to design something for Helen Mirren. She's very elegant, stylish and sexy. She would look great in an elegant hat".
It may require several consultations with a client in order to get things just right. Liz asks them to bring along everything they intend wearing with the hat, right down to the earrings.
Measurements need to be precise and trimmings have to be discussed. After a short design assessment it’s down to work.
Most of the fabrics Liz uses have been specifically dyed to match the clients outfit.
She’s a firm believer in the versatility of sinamay (a straw like material). This fabric is incredibly malleable and holds its colour extremely well.
"Physically making a hat takes a long time. You have to soak the straw and it has to dry. You then have to iron it, varnish it then stiffen it so it can take the shape of the hat
"All of these things take time, you can't make a decent hat overnight."
So, if you're deciding to get a hat made for next year's Ascot it's a good idea to get your orders in early.
Click on the link below to see photos of Liz’s creations and explanations on how the hats are mad:
Visit Liz's website for more information on millinery:
last updated: 01/07/2008 at 16:21