This morning Grazia opened its HQ to a winding queue of marabou feathers and glue gunned jewels as contenders for the ‘Hat Factor’ – Grazia’s very own competition for budding millinery designers – got ready for their moment in the spotlight. With a judging panel including Britain’s top milliners Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy as well as Grazia’s Editor In Chief, Jane Bruton and Style Director, Paula Reed, the contenders are facing a big challenge. But with an opportunity to play a key part of the Cultural Olympiad (details to be revealed later in the year), for many of the aspiring hat designers – some of whom had been camped outside Grazia towers since 4 AM (!)- it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
As ever Grazia Daily was there to get the inside scoop from designers who had travelled the length and breadth of the country for the chance to win The Hat Factor.
Florrie Clarke – Fashion Blogger and Part Time Student, travelled from Stafford, arrived 9am.
Florrie Clarke’s bubblegum pink hair immediately caught our eye – as did her pretty floral veiled concoction – inspired she told us by the British countryside. “I really wanted to keep my hat design pretty and fresh. I’d describe my style as an odd mix of classic British ladylike, rococo Marie Antoinette and Japanese street style influences – especially the Lolita look.” The chance to win the hat factor Ms Clark tells us would be “so great – I would love the chance to sell my accessories.”
James Faulkner – Budding Milliner, travelled from Edinburgh, arrived at 8am
Faulkner’s background in taxidermy helped plant the seeds for his interest in millinery. “A friend of mine kept asking for help with choosing a hat to wear until in the end I just said that I’d make her one. I turned a roadkill magpie into a hat, and I thought that was the end of it – but then people started to ask me to make hats for them and that’s how it started’. With the support of his friends who “got together to help put me on a millinery course” Faulkner’s creations have caught the eye of the Scottish fashion industry and his pieces have received local media attention. “I make hats for small theatre productions and photoshoots, but would love to do more,” James tells us. So what inspired his hat for the hat factor? “The starting point was the zero in the 2012 Olympic logo – and its ended up being a mishmash of tweedy English country style and a mohawk/punk/centurion helmet – basically all of British history rolled into a hat!”
Natalie Ellner - Medical Prosthesis Sculptor, travelled from Hackney, arrived 7am.
It wasn’t exactly hard to spot the giant peacock outside Grazia Towers this morning. 30 year old Cornwall-born Natalie told us, “We’ve just named him in the queue, this, is Claude!” What a suitably jolly name for such a striking piece. “He took about five days to make and it’s sculpted out of silicone.” So her job came in handy there! Shy and retiring customers need not apply, “In a dream world, Grace Jones, Helena Bonham Carter and Paloma Faith would all be wearing my hats!”
Loren Wood – A Barman from Bristol who managed to pull everyone’s headphones out on his tube journey.
"The curly twisted willow was definitely getting in the way this morning!” Loren said of his macabre creation that he’d like to see Bjork wearing. “I’m really inspired by the Edwardian and 1920s crossover period, the fall of the upper class and the oriental fashions of that time.” You could easily see that in the eerie lacquered wood and little red birdies perched atop. So, where does such creativity come from? “My great grandfather was a gamekeeper, so I’ve always had a curiousity about zoology and taxidermy.” Loren’s creative side has seen him making and giving hats for the past four years now, “I’d actually love to be a runner up; it’s not about winning for me, just getting the chance for people to finally see my work.
Hayley Marsden – Art Teacher And Part Time Milliner, travelled from Liverpool last night.
“Look closer!” Hayley told us after we were drawn to her gigantic hat extravaganza. “It has an iPad in it, so you can watch a film of the Olympic buildings going up!” Well! We weren’t expected a piece of technology in Hayley’s hat, but we were concerned for her health. “My neck is starting to hurt now, but I’m almost at the front of the queue – and it’s worth it!” It certainly is when you’ve been working on something for days and nights consecutively – and were making tweaks up until this morning. “It’s a big ambition of mine to take my millinery further – I’d love to make a career out of it.”