As part of our designer series we are talking to both Lovehat’s established and upcoming milliners to give you the inside scoop, who better to interview next than Sophie Beale; named as ‘Britain’s hottest new milliner’ and recent winner of Grazia Magazine’s national Hat Factor competition, judged by Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones (Sophie can be seen in the image above, working in her studio).
Years of strict academic millinery education and a job in the couture department of Stephen Jones has led to Sophie developing her signature style with space and lightness at the heart of her designs and the vibrant and captivating head pieces having a wistful delicacy which is an aesthetic respected from her many socialite and high profile clients.
- How does the design process start when beginning a new seasons collection?
The process develops in various ways; I find sources of inspiration all the time and I keep a list of these to refer back to; from a shell by the shore, a patch of oil on the road, or it could be a poem or piece of music, moments of inspiration occur in many different places. I like the challenge of using these widely varied subjects and moulding them to fit my brand. I play around with these shapes and ideas which results in lots of pieces until they begin to form a story and eventually the perfect headpiece.
- Is there one perfect customer (celebrity or other) you would like to see wearing your designs?
Any women who feel empowered by my headwear are my favourite, somebody who can embrace my hat and work it with their personality. But in terms of just one person, Marlene Dietrich is the ultimate style icon for me and often used as my muse.
- After so many huge achievements, which has been the most important for you so far?
Grazia magazine’s ‘hat factor’ has been a superb platform from which many other great things have happened, so this should be the most important. Also it was so national and so directly related to my career, you couldn’t beat the feeling.
- How was the experience working for Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones?
Working for two such inspirational milliners was hugely insightful, it really helped me refine my detail the quality and finish of my work. So if you invest in a Sophie Beale headpiece you know that its over-all lasting quality is on top form.
- Where is the next step for the Sophie Beale brand?
I aim to develop the brand image further, creating a strong sense of style that blends the avant garde with chic wearability, avoiding gimmicks and fuss. I would eventually like to expand supply to overseas markets, now that I’m supplying boutiques in Hong Kong I’m learning to tailor my pieces to suit the needs of a wider range of customers. I began my career in performance, so i would also hope for a new opportunity to blend my creations back to where i began.