Having a Ball of a Time – with Rachel Trevor Morgan
We sat down with expert milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan to discuss her craft and ask her one of life’s most searing questions – what headdress does one wear to a ball?
Talk us through what you do
At Rachel Trevor Morgan we create exceptional millinery, offering both bespoke and off the peg hats and headpieces from our showroom in St James’s in the heart of London. We work closely with our clients to design special one off pieces for lots of events - we are passionate about our craft.
How long does it take you to create one of your pieces?
Millinery is very labour intensive involving many hours and a lot of patience. Each piece is made using traditional techniques, for example, creating a beautiful spray of flowers involves many processes; the silk is hand dyed, each petal individually cut, rolled and tooled all before the flowers are put together…that’s where the magic begins.
When designing a new item, what inspires you?
I have always drawn inspiration from the 1940’s and ‘50’s and Hollywood glamour but really inspiration can come from anywhere and anything; a beautiful bunch of flowers (colours is key!) or an interesting line from a piece of architecture. I keep an eye on the colour predictions of the season ahead and runway shows too.
How did you approach your project for Penhaligon's Portraits Pleasure Ball?
This is a such a fabulous commission. We wanted to make a beautiful headdress but one that wasn’t too serious. We researched headwear from the 1870’s as a guide but with our own take. We took inspiration from the beautiful colours of the characters’ surroundings and translated that into an eclectic headdress of exquisite flowers. A raised band of climbing roses with gold stamens and leaves, trailing flowers and vintage silk velvet ribbon bows.
You've somehow managed to capture Duchess Rose's character in your design. How on earth did you do that?
Duchess Rose is the Belle of the Ball and as such she is the centre of attention. What better way to illustrate this than with the most fabulous of headdresses. Her great beauty is admired by all and her delicate, yet striking headwear reflects her character. The style is bold and yet still has a soft feminine sensibility.
Do you have any top tips for finding the perfect piece of headwear for a Grand Ball?
Be bold and stand out! It’s not every day that you are invited to a Grand Ball so make the most of it and make a statement. Opt for a striking silhouette to make sure that you are noticed and remembered.
What tool or item could you not be without when working on a project?
A milliners Dolly. This is an essential tool of the trade for any milliner; it is a life size mannequin head covered in fabric which allows you to pin your idea together and see how it works in 3d. Millinery is all about balance and silhouette, it is critical to keep your eye on both.
Do you like to listen to music when you work? If so, what is your music of choice?
My music taste is eclectic and my choice often depends on the task in hand. I listen to podcasts and the spoken word while getting on with general sewing. If I am designing, my music will reflect the mood. Currently I am very much enjoying Jazz funk which I have come to via my son Louis. It’s energising and, well, Funky.
We've seen your beautiful line, Ella, an ode to your daughter. How did this line come into being?
This was very much a lockdown endeavour. Doing a ready to wear line of hats was something I had always meant to do but somehow had never found the time for. With no events and everyone shopping online it seemed to be the perfect time. I am so pleased we got it launched, it has enabled us to offer more everyday playful hats – beautiful simple panamas, berets and stylish everyday felts.
Looking back, which piece of work has proved most satisfying?
It really is impossible to pick one piece! I have been in business for 30 years and every year I produce 2/3 collections. Each year I fall in love again with a new design.
What are your plans for the future?
The landscape that we all knew seems to have shifted over the last few years. We moved premises 2 years ago and have been growing into our new surroundings which have allowed the business to flourish. I want to continue to build a sustainable and strong brand, keeping millinery relevant in everyday life.
Peruse Rachel’s work on her various social channels and website below:
Pinterest @racheltrmorgan https://racheltrevormorgan.com/
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