For our latest millinery interview, we took to the the heart of the Wiltshire Countryside where Vivien Sheriff is based. It’s from this natural setting in the beauty of Downton, where Vivien Sheriff started her multi-award winning millinery label and where now, a large creative team create signature designs in sculptural form for the likes of the Royal Family. As you can probably already tell, Vivienne Sheriff’s brand is different to many London milliners and here’s why…
There are many points that differentiate Vivien Sheriff’s label but the first big difference she pointed out was her location, “My work is different being based up here [in Wiltshire]. We aren’t influenced by what other designers are doing, we don’t copy what other designers are doing. We are influenced by our own surroundings and own lives. When I see what other designers create – i think it’s fascinating but often there are similarities to each other.”
Anyone interested in this industry would think one downside of being based in the sticks is a lack of accessibility but for Vivien that’s not the case, as well as online stockists such as LoveHats – there are other options, “We’re not in London so it’s true you can’t just pop in. Yet… people travel from all over the world to have a hat made by us – it’s quite hilarious. Lady’s come down and want an incredible hat made for them or their family, people get on trains before racing seasons and for some buyers – we’re on their map. We had one buyer who was going to Moscow, Paris, London and then to us in Wiltshire.” We can understand how the magic of the location, which fits well into Vivien’s own aesthetic – can make people want to travel for this, it’s an experience.
So when you purchase from Vivien Sheriff, you know your hat has come from the adorable countryside but who’s made it? “None of our team are trained milliners. All milliners have come from diverse background. Therefore the team learn in a different way and we completely change millinery into new directions. Me? I have no millinery training either – i’m an entrepreneur. It started by me creating one off headpieces and then I realised I could create wonders and something far more beautiful. It was interesting and then my label was born.”
This unique outlook on millinery has taken Vivien far! She was worn by British Royalty and many celebrated heads, Vivien Sheriff is top of the list of designers who dressed the most Royal Wedding guests in 2011 (as reported in The Times newspaper); since then, Vivien Sheriff has been representing the Best of British in headwear fashions around the world. There couldn’t be a better form of acceptance and Vivien is happy for it, “Regardless of my training, the industry has accepted me in – millinery industry is free spirited.”
So whats next for the brand? Vivien made a bold statement on this, “I want to be the go to millinery brand, not just for the best of racing hats for the best millinery of all”