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Last month I had such an amazing opportunity to work alongside the amazing talent that is Sara Gadd Millinery. Sara has been making hats for over 15 years and happily calls herself 'the mad hatter', however once you see her creations you'll see there's nothing mad about her - more like just pure beauty!

Sara contacted me asking to do a shoot to help her relaunch herself, and show the world all the variety of hats and headwear she can create. She felt like she'd got in a rut and really needed to show off her talents again and create a new Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter line. We set a date and Sara started designing and creating the most beautiful headwear I've ever seen!

Let's fly by another few weeks to the day of the shoot and Sara turned up with her car overflowing with hat boxes, and once we carried everything up to our base room at The Forest Side, I really got to see her work. And WOW! I was blown away at the beauty!

I photographed 33 items in total that day and what a whirlwind it was! For now though, this is where I'll leave you and pass on over to Sara and the many beautiful photographs of her new collection.

1. What made you fall in love with making hats and how did you start in the industry?

I fell in love with hats I have to say by accident. I was studying at The University of Cumbria when I made my first hat; I’d always loved fashion and colour and enjoyed creating three dimensional pieces and my tutor, Angie Wyman suggested I make hats for a project during the second year. My love for hats came after this; I immersed myself into the history of the hat and into contemporary designers such as Philip Treacy and through this began to develop my own sense of style.

2. What are the different types of headwear/hats you create?

I mainly specialise in ladies occasion headwear, I love the sense of excitement that comes with an event. Especially when I have been asked to create a statement piece for a client to wear to a race meeting, this allows for a more creative approach! The styles range from feather fripperies to classic cocktail hats, headpieces and elaborate creations on a band, there are also half hats, as well as stylish, elegant full hats. In addition to occasion, I also make wool and fur felt hats for winter and straw style summer hats, as well as contemporary bridal headpieces made from lace, silk and feathers.

3. What’s been your favourite piece to date that you’ve created?

I’m often asked this question and it is so hard to choose! I have created some wonderful pieces. There was one hat I created for a lovely Mother-of-the-Bride, it was quite an elaborate piece in sinamay, with pleated sinamay bows, and feather sprays, in a lovely dove grey colour that I had partly hand dyed. The client kindly sent me an image from the day and you could tell that she was just beaming, she looked amazing! There is nothing nicer than knowing you have helped a little towards making people feel special on such an important day! I also created a little black felt cocktail hat for myself to wear to my grandfather’s funeral, it was trimmed with full coque feathers that have a lovely green, almost petrol tinge to them. I loved wearing the hat and even though it was a sombre occasion it felt fabulous to wear. I knew being a stylish man that my Grampy would have approved! It is this feeling that I like to pass on to clients when I create a piece for them.

4. How do you come up with a design? What type of inspiration do you look for?

I am always inspired by the intrinsic beauty of flowers in nature. I love the colour combinations, the tactile stamens and petals and I love to create my own silk flowers. I am also inspired by fabric manipulation and simply looing at different fabrics and materials together. Ideas just some times jump out! It’s also important to me to keep an eye on my contemporise and to look back at hat styles from days gone by. I am very influenced by styles from the 1940’s and 50’s. I find outfits very inspiring, I can envisage what hat will look good with the overall look and this has often been a good starting point for me.

5. If someone wanted a bespoke hat/fascinator/any type of headwear made, how do they go about contacting you and what are the steps you take with them to create their dream?

Firstly when clients are looking for a special or every day piece of headwear, our details can easily be found online via the website at on the Sara Gadd Millinery Facebook page and on Instagram. Sara Gadd Millinery caters for all sizes of hat and types of headwear, from the simplest of combs to attention grabbing race day headwear! I am available Monday – Saturday by appointment and people can call, email or send a message to arrange a visit. Clients often bring their outfit with them when they visit as it helps to see everything together and ideas for their headwear again come to my mind. Equally ladies are welcome to come before choosing the outfit as it can be just as effective choosing headwear first! From here we will try on examples from the collection to get a feel of what the client suits and likes, I will then designs the chosen creation in their choice of colour. Bespoke pieces can be created from scratch and if a client has ideas before hand about their perfect headwear, it helps if they are able to bring inspirational images, although this is not essential. Once they have placed the order depending on the complexity of the design it may be necessary to have two, three or more fittings and if a piece is quite straight forward it may just take one visit!

6. What’s your 2018 must have colours for anyone looking for a hat this year?

I adore colour! I love the muted colour choices that are popular this season, nudes, silver blues and pinks. I always think that a tonal colour pallet works well. Using just one colour in several shades can be extremely stylish for a wedding or occasion. In contrast adding a shot of vibrant, splash colour with this tonal look also works well and creates an added edge to the look. I always love classic black and off white for an elegant look too. I really enjoy mixing unusual colour combinations, using nature’s colours are a wonderful inspiration for this.

7. You’ve been in the industry for a number of years now, what’s on your 5 year goal list for your business?

Having worked in the industry for over 15 years and still feel there is so much to achieve. I would love to build on my success in the next five years, expanding to offer Sara Gadd Millinery online and in exclusive boutiques throughout the UK, maybe the World! I always intend to keep that personal touch as I feel meeting with clients and working with them closely offers a unique service away from the high street and that is important in today’s society. In the past I have created hats for theatrical events and I would like to do more of this work. I would also like to create a collection of work, inspired by my work as millinery, which can be exhibited in a gallery collection. I really enjoy collaborating with like minded individuals as well and would love to seek out more opportunities to do this….There's lots going on!

To contact Sara about creating your new headwear, you can email her at


Shoot credits:



Where are we going next?

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