Annabel Allen Millinery Blog

  • Meet The Maker
  • Author avatar
    Annabel Hitchen

Meet The Maker

Go behind the scenes with Annabel...

milliner Annabel Allen hides behind a sinamay fascinator

Today I thought I would give you a peek behind the scenes by sharing an excerpt of my interview with Sophie Martin when she asked to "meet the maker" behind Annabel Allen Millinery...

mother-of-the-bride-hat-wedding-guest-outfit-annabel-allen-millinery gold-feather-headband-mother-of-the-groom-hat-wedding-guest-ascot

Today we're getting to know Annabel a little better... come behind the scenes with us and MEET THE MAKER!

~ What made you want to be a milliner and how long have you been making hats? 

I have always had a need to create things and grew up dreaming of being a fashion designer, inspired by the likes of Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. I started off down that road, undertaking a Saville Row apprenticeship course and working in the cutting rooms of both Alice Temperley and Pringle of Scotland, which I greatly enjoyed but didn't quite scratch the creative itch.  In 2010 I moved to Sydney and was working in an administrative job to make ends meet; in a bid to find a creative outlet I enrolled on an evening course for millinery and never looked back!  I loved that I could be so much more creative than when I was making clothes (or rather when I was a tiny cog in the huge garment making machine), using such a variety of skills, from tailoring to silk painting and embroidery, it can all be incorporated in one single piece. It was in 2013 when we moved back to the UK that I started doing millinery full time, firstly working with a theatrical milliner in Bristol before going solo when my first daughter was born in 2015.


~ What's your favourite part of the hat to create? 

I love millinery for the fact that I am able to make all the different parts of a hat and enjoy each for different reasons.  I do love blocking the base shape of each piece- seeing whatever material I am working with give way under the steam as I stretch it over the block to take on an entirely new form. Whilst you are able to buy ready made bases, I love both the quality and the creative control that I have in making my own.  I can manipulate the shape and size to suit the wearer and it gives me much greater freedom in the designing process.

~ Are there any processes that you find particularly enjoyable?

Whilst it might not seem like the most exciting process out of all the fun things I get to do, I actually really enjoy hand dying my own materials.  Many clients come to me having searched high and low to find an exact match to their outfit and I love that I can offer fabrics that match in almost any design they like- no compromises needed!  There is something a bit hocus pocus about it as I stand over my boiling pot of dye adding a bit of this and a bit of that to get the exact shade.  I am a perfectionist so it can take hours of tweaking and I am often surprised by what colours are needed to create a certain hue but it is immensely satisfying when it all comes together and I get my colour!

What's your favourite style of hat to make?

I created a bespoke base shape years ago that I think I have used in every seasonal collection since- I love it!  It is really flattering with all face shapes and just looks like it wants to party!


~ Tell us a little bit about your studio, what's it like to work for yourself? 

I feel incredibly lucky to work where I live and live where I do in the Gloucestershire countryside.   As anyone who has visited me will know, my studio is small and pretty secluded! It sits at the back of my house overlooking the garden and is my sanctuary.  I have a small client area at the front where I exhibit all my hats and hold consultations, and the rest is my work space, which is where the magic happens!  It's great having it all in one place as it makes it much easier for me to grab materials and illustrate my ideas to clients- my collections only showcase a fraction of what is possible!

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process? 

My process is very organic and whilst my designs often start out drawn on a piece of paper, they often evolve into something entirely different when I start making.  I find the materials I use often have a life of their own and find it much more enjoyable, and the results far more pleasing if I listen to them and let them do their thing!

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about how my designs go from my head to yours! A big thank you to Sophie for putting these questions to me... it's lovely to have time to reflect on my process and reminisce!
If you'd like to make an appointment to visit me at my studio, please give me a call on 01453 350 611.

Many thanks, 
Annabel & Team
  • Author avatar
    Annabel Hitchen