After the incredible success of Grazia’s Fash Factor competition last year, we decided it was time we gave a big nod to the ever-growing fashion craze for marvellous millinery. Everyone from K Middy to Rihanna will finish off an outfit with a hat these days, so we put a call out to find the next big thing in British hat design.
A whopping 93 contestants lined up outside Grazia towers for the first ever Hat Factor – some arriving as early as 4am – with all types of traffic-stopping creations atop their heads. It’s no wonder our crowds were so keen; we had two legendary British milliners – Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones – on our judging panel. They were looking for something unexpected and individual, and as Stephen Jones told us, this was a competition with no boundaries: ‘You can pick up anything and make a hat out of it!’ So we witnessed giant peacocks taking flight, Olympic race tracks, floral beefeaters, spooky bird’s nests and more than one homage to Lady Gaga.
Hat Factor champion Sophie Beale with her winning creation
So, after weeks of anticipation, we can now reveal that our victorious Hat Factor winner is Sophie Beale, 29, from London. Sophie’s elegant bird creation was inspired by the British seaside and watching seagulls against the sky. ‘Hearing I’d won almost gave me a heart attack!’ she told us. ‘I really want to pursue a career in millinery – I’m waitressing to support myself while I study it – and winning this is amazing!’ And Sophie’s prize? Well, we STILL can’t divulge what she will be doing, but you’ll hear more details nearer the Olympic Games date.
A big thank you must go to everyone who was involved in the project – we simply adored seeing your designs.
And The Runners Up (in no particular order)
Sinead Considine, 38, Dublin, almost toppled over from the sheer height of her brilliant black rosette-covered Bearskin hat. It was a fun twist on the style traditionally worn by the Royal Irish Guard, and quite the statement piece.
Jo Miller, 37, London, was inspired by ornithology, and her bird-embellished fascinator had a section for birdseed – to attract the real thing. A modern-day Mary Poppins!
Annelli Clarke, 38, Norwich, wowed the crowds with her very modern take on a laurel leaf headdress. Her neon acrylic number wouldn’t look out of place on many of the hat-wearing popstrels we so adore.
Loren Wood, 22, Bristol, used twisted willow branches and taxidermy for his macabre bird’s nest. He was inspired by the ’20s trend for chinoiserie – also one of next season’s big trends.
Harvy Santos, 37, London, took the idea of the pentathlon to new heights with his masked design. Working on costume design means he knows how to make a piece with stage presence.
Emma Yeo, 28, London, kept her caged and feathered piece – created for designer Corrie Nielsen’s A/W ’12 show – under wraps until the moment she presented it to our judges.
To see all Hat Factor entries, check out our mammoth album on Grazia UK's Facebook page!