With London Hat Week approaching, we chat to millinery sensation and LCF grad Monique Lee of Monique Lee Millinery about the exciting exhibition she has curated for this year’s event.
1) Tell us about London Hat Week and your exhibition!
London Hat Week was founded in 2014 by the lovely Georgina Abbott, owner of Atelier Millinery and Becky Weaver, editor of HATalk e-magazine. I was honoured to exhibit my hat designs in the first LHW exhibition that year. London Hat Week is a collection of hat related events, including talks, workshops, studio visits, supplier fairs, parties and exhibitions across London, celebrating the art of hats in the city that is home to some of the most talented hat designers in the world.
I’ve had the privilege of being the curator and organiser of the official London Hat Week exhibition since 2015 with my fashion platform X Terrace. Last year’s theme was “21st Century Hat Exhibition” where we showcased 75 hats made with innovative techniques and the latest technology such as 3D printing, interactive sensors and LED lighting. This year’s theme is ‘Milliner x Artisan’ where we celebrate the collaboration between milliners and artists. The exhibition aims to showcase the most creative, innovative and cutting edge hats from milliners across the globe. We selected the finest 130 hats made by milliners from 20 countries (UK, Japan, Sweden, Australia, USA, Spain, Russia, and others) to be showcased at the exhibition. You will be able to see the beautiful hats inspired by artists, architects, musicians, and scientists, David Bowie, Zaha Hadid, Picasso, Monet, Frida Kahlo, Gaudi, Lady Gaga and many more…
The exhibition will be held on 7-12th October 2016 (11:00–18:00 daily) at Coventry University London Campus, 109-117 Middlesex St. London E1 7JF in the heart of the east London fashion district, close to Liverpool Street and Spitalfields market. Get your tickets online!
2) Why do you feel there needs to be a separate hat week from fashion week?
Hat culture has been a long tradition in the UK. The great hat design masters including Philip Tracey and Stephen Jones have made London the capital of millinery art. The Royal Family’s impressive hat collection has also made fashion lovers around the world link Great Britain with millinery.
Hats have never been absent in London Fashion Week shows and exhibitions as the accessories to make the visual effect more exciting. The British Fashion Council also initiated ‘Headonism’ curated by Stephen Jones, celebrating the new wave of emerging British milliners. It showcases emerging British milliners within an installation at London Fashion Week every season. This year Stephen Jones will be joining us as a special guest to have a live conversation with the renowned fashion journalist Hilary Alexander at an evening drinks reception. See the London Hat Week full schedule at londonhatweek.co.uk.
We truly believe that the beautiful hat designs made by thousands of milliners deserve a bigger platform and a whole week of fun and creativity for the public to enjoy. You are invited to see the wonderful 130 hats at the Milliner x Artisan exhibition and to be inspired!
3) Who are some of your biggest milliner inspirations?
I am an admirer of Philip Tracey and Stephen Jones’ hat designs. Their precision of perfection in details and beauty always inspires me to make more hats. The architectural shapes of their designs are so powerful and breathtaking.
4) Tell us a bit about your work as a milliner
I am a big fan of Muccia Prada and her take on art inspired fashion. I admire her passion and her talent in bringing very beautiful art-like collections to the world. I love traveling and have travelled to 24 countries, I love being inspired by the local culture, people, nature and architecture.
I founded my hat brand Monique Lee Millinery 3 years ago. My hat was chosen by Vogue Italia senior fashion editor Sara Marino and the public as the People’s Choice award winner in 2013. Fashion consultant Gok Wan chose one of my hats as the most beautiful hat at Royal Ascot when he presented for Channel 4 and my hats and headpieces have been featured in Tatler UK, Vogue Italia, Schön!, L’Officiel, The Evening Standard, Royal Ascot, Hat magazine and the amazing Pigeons and Peacocks!
I have been very lucky to have worked with so many talented people in the past, creating hats for editorial photoshoots, and I have enjoyed the creative process so much that I started my own platform X Terrace, where we help EU fashion talent to link with far east fashion company clients on paid projects, such as campaign photoshoots, talent scouting and showroom and fashion event organization etc. Fashion photographers, designers, stylists, models, MUAs, hairstylists, bloggers, retouchers, video photographers can sign up for free at xterrace.com.
5) How did you find studying at LCF?
I am proud to be a graduate of London College of Fashion, I met many creative friends there, even though many of them have left London and we don’t get to see each other very often, they are still an inspiration to me. The one-year spent completing my MA degree has given me the courage and vision in creating beautiful objects which do not exist yet or have not yet been explored fully. I was trained to be a womenswear designer, so the fashion design techniques and ideas I developed during my studies have been a great help in my hat making journey. As I never trained in millinery, my approach to hat design has been unconventional and I absolutely enjoy the freedom of exploring all kinds of materials, and ways of constructing the forms!
6) Advice for other young milliners?
Make the hats you truly believe are beautiful, and don’t be afraid of trying new ways of making. Be nice to people who you meet and collaborate with and never forget to give them credit on social media.
The exhibition will be held on 7-12th October 2016 (11:00–18:00 daily) at Coventry University London Campus, 109-117 Middlesex St. London E1 7JF in the heart of the east London fashion district, close to Liverpool Street and Spitalfields market. Limited £9 tickets are still available online. For further information please visit xterrace.com.