What It's Like To Be A Hat Designer

26/01/2015 13:30 | Updated 20 May 2015

There aren't many designers who can claim to have made an accessory for the Queen, but Emily Baxendale is one of them.

The milliner and mum of three daughters creates ready-to-wear and bespoke hats; from classic styles to hair accessories and bridal pieces for her label Emily London.

emily london

Her encounter with royalty came as an apprentice for the Royal milliner after graduating from the London College of Fashion. Emily launched her own label in 2008 and has been loved by her loyal clients ever since - particularly as she's a pro at doing the one thing many deem as impossible - making headgear wearable.

So, what's it like to be a milliner? Emily takes us through her day below:

6.00am - My alarm goes off early and the morning rush begins - at times it feels like mobilising a small army through breakfast, dressing and out of the door... I have twin girls who are two and an older daughter who is four.

7.30am - I do the school and nursery drop off, and then on days when there is time I love to squeeze in a quick run in Richmond Park before work. I love being outdoors and find it exhilarates and inspires me for the day.

8.30am - After a quick shower I go to the showroom. We have recently moved to a bigger space in Wimbledon and I am still putting the finishing touches together, like resin antlers on the wall and hanging a bowler hat lamp over the counter. The first thing I always do is check my emails, go through new online orders and then sit down with the team with coffees and pastries to go through the day's schedule.


10.00am - Although we see clients out of hours, we officially start appointments at 10.00am. Today a bride and a mother of the bride have booked in for their final fitting consultation. The bride has had a stunning silk tulle veil made which is attached with removable grips to a hand-beaded crystal and feather headpiece, so that she can take the veil off but keep the headpiece on for her evening reception. She tries it on and her mother has a few tears! She herself has had a traditional pillbox made in beautiful shades of tonal blues and silver made to work wonderfully with her classic Amanda Wakeley ensemble. Working with brides is one of my favourite elements to the job. It's a real privilege creating unique and personal pieces for such a special moment in someone's life.

11.30am - After the appointment I spend time adding the final touches to some new hats being collected this weekend. Our A/W14 collection has included a range of statement crescent headbands with lots of embellishment, texture and jewels - perfect for the party season. This is also the time in the day when we do all our hand-dyeing for our bespoke pieces. Natural daylight is essential for this and we therefore can't leave it until after our last evening appointment, no matter how much pressure that puts on the day.

1.00pm - I grab lunch en route to the studio of my photographer and friend, Corina Bankhead. This afternoon we are shooting the second half of our S/S15 look book. Hats are very difficult to shoot well and the right angle is crucial, so each shot can take a long time to style. It is a long process but I am always so pleased with the results and I can't wait to share them on our website and social media.

3.30pm - Back to the showroom for a meeting with a fashion brand who we are collaborating with next year. I can't say much more about this at this stage...but it is an exciting new concept and the creative juices from both sides are flowing!

hair accessories

5.00pm - We just have one more client appointment today before I dash off to pick up the girls who have been with their Granny since nursery. The next couple of hours is precious time spent with them. My eldest calls my basement office at home 'Mummy's shop' as it has nearly as many hats in it as the showroom, and she loves trying them on, which is fine as long as I am nearby keeping a close eye on her... Otherwise everything would be felt-tipped and sequinned in pink... She wants to be a milliner when she is older but I think my husband may suggest another career path!

8.00pm - After the girls have gone to bed my husband and I catch up on our days over supper and a glass of wine. There is usually one final email check before bed, and if I can I will also try to slope off again into my basement 'shop' to play around with a few new ideas before morning...

Emily recently opened her shop at 195 Replingham Road, Wimbledon London SW18 5LY. See Emily London's collection in full here.


Fashion News
Suggest a correction