I’ve spent the last six weeks working with a bride and her mother to design and hand craft a bridal headdress. A thoroughly delightful and entertaining pair, our collaboration has been a very happy and successful one.
At the final consultation to check that all was well, they agreed, over coffee, to talk about how they felt about the experience.
I began by asking what they had thought at the beginning about commissioning a bespoke headdress.
C. I knew I needed something to wear on my head and…
M. …we’d looked in the shops but everything was very ordinary, no style and not at all appropriate for the dress. I knew of Deborah’s work so we made an appointment.
C. People aren’t used to having bespoke clothes…or bespoke hats, for that matter… so I was a little nervous before the first consultation.
M. We thought she’d just make something but Deborah ‘investigated’ C as a person and found out about her and her wishes.
C. It was slightly embarrassing, talking about myself, but the questions helped me to identify exactly what I wanted. Once I’d got into it, it was fun!
One of the lovely things about bespoke hat making is the opportunity to meet so many different people. I enjoy designing hats that are right for my clients and use a series of questions to get to the heart of their wishes. (It’s my own secret formula ….but I’ll give C’s answers at the end.)
C. I felt I wouldn’t offend Deborah if I said I didn’t like something. The wedding is so important, things have got to be comfortable and feel normal…not awkward. I tried on lots of different styles, picking out details I liked or didn’t and she made notes about my choices.
In this way, we were able to separate the samples into those that pleased and those that didn’t. This gave me a very clear idea of what C was looking for. I now had the basis for her headdress, then came the details.
C. There was a wide variety of materials to choose from and I loved looking through the boxes and finding my favourite pieces. I particularly liked the floaty feathers and sparkly bits.
As C said, I have a large stock of fabrics and trimmings and it is useful to begin to select the materials that could be used in the hat or headdress. We spent about an hour experimenting, rejecting or deciding exactly what to use as we began to build up the basis of the headdress and get an idea of how it would look as a finished piece.
C. Deborah would suggest things to try and show us how it would look…making sure we were happy with everything. I hadn’t thought of a little veil till she showed me how it would look…and it was perfect!
M. I looked forward to the consultations and seeing how the ideas developed. At the end of each meeting, Deborah would tell us exactly what she would do next, send us written details by email and then images of the work she had done. We felt fully informed and part of the process ..and I had pictures to show my friends!
This reassures the client and helps build the excitement – a bespoke hat or headdress IS exciting as it’s a unique expression of the wearer…a very personal work of art.
And now C’s bridal headdress is finished and has gone home with her where she can practise wearing it until she becomes used to the feel of it on her head.
C. The idea of a bespoke hat was daunting -‘What have I got myself into?’ But it was fun. It’s exactly what I wanted – but even better! More than I’d hoped for.
M. We’ve been made to feel very welcome. I’m proud of the way my daughter looks; it really suits her, makes her look elegant and the style is perfect for the dress. I’m looking forward to seeing her in all her glory on the day. And, it’s good value for the money!
Some answers to the secret formula
Reserved, steely, enigmatic, Chanel, pretty not frou frou, Keira Knightley.