Here is the second featured millinery interview. This month it’s Isabella Josie.
In one of the millinery groups on Facebook, somebody asked “Who’s your millinery idol?” I kind of wanted to answer: “Everyone.” There are so many milliners out there I’ve never heard of. If a hat is beautiful, I admire the maker — regardless of how famous they are. Isabella Josie makes lovely hats. So she’s worth sharing here.
How long have you been a milliner? How did you get into millinery?
My millinery journey started with a wedding. I wanted a hat but could’t find the right one for my dress. I’ve always been a crafter and it felt a natural step to find out how to make a headpiece.
I was really luck that Rose Cory was still teaching so I spent some time learning traditional couture techniques which has given me a great foundation for my millinery work. I’ve only been making handcrafted hats and headpieces for clients for 4 years and I’m still developing my own style.
Is millinery your primary occupation or a side job?
I am a part-time milliner as also work as an education adviser. My dream is to have my own hat shop with a space where I am able to run millinery workshops to help people develop their confidence, and self esteem. Create something with your hands that you can wear and express your personality through is so good for your emotional health and well-being.
What is your favourite material or technique and why?
My favourite thing about millinery is that it incorporates so many different techniques and materials, from hand blocking, french beading, flower making to feather cutting. It has become a bit of an obsession and there are so many exciting techniques to master. Whether you start with piece of sinamay, lace or felt, it is the ability to play with different materials and techniques to create something truly unique that really makes my heart sing.
What is your favourite style/shape of hat to make and why?
At the moment I love creating sculptural headpieces, it is something about the sweep of the headpiece and how it plays with the line of an outfit. I also have a passion for the elegance of vintage fashion and like to think that all my hats have that touch of style.
What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring milliner?
Be a sponge! Absorb as much information as you can and then play and practice with the materials to find out what they are capable of. I have attended workshops with milliners such as Ian Bennett, Edwina Ibbotson, Dillon Wallwork, Tracy Chaplin, John Paul — each with their own way of doing things. This can feel a bit confusing to start with but you just need to try out all the different techniques that you learn to find out what suits you and the materials best.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking for a hat to buy?
Try on as many different hats and headpieces as you can — there is a hat that suits you! You know when you have found the perfect one as it somehow makes you ‘stand a little taller’. There are different rules about face shape and hat styles, but like any rule, it’s Ok to break these, hats are about having fun!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Never be afraid to learn something new, I think we all need to be lifelong learners. My millinery adventure did not begin until my early 40’s and it can be difficult to balance everything. “Aim for the moon, if you miss you’ll end up amongst the stars” and “Hats are like halos of happiness” are two of my favourite quotes!
Where can people find you?
I have a website (www.isabellajosie.com) with lots of photos of my millinery work, the ‘shop’ button that links to my Etsy shop. I also write a free newsletter about my millinery adventures which you can sign up for here.
If you are in the UK, some of my ready-to-wear hats and headpieces are also available for sale at a local arts and crafts centre called Bosham Walk in West Sussex and through my home studio.
If anyone wants to find out more about my millinery work please email me on [email protected] or follow me on one of my social media channels.
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