Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery ~ An Interview…

I have taken great pleasure in interviewing those involved in the Absolutely Beautiful Weddings event and I am particularly excited about featuring today's interview, not least because the designer I'm profiling rarely gives interviews – and doesn't, yet, have a web presence, so unless you are lucky enough to have visited her Battersea based boutique or meet her at one of the UK's more exclusive wedding and bridal exhibitions, then obtaining information can sometimes prove tricky. 

Edwina Ibbotson is one of the UK's most talented Milliners designing today.  She has been creating hats and head dresses for 23 years and has had her own business for almost 19 years with an established boutique in the heart of Battersea, London. I fell in love with her work when I saw it at the Designer Wedding Show in February this year -  exquisitely beautiful, couture millinery really doesn't come much better than this.  I also recall my friend Lisa, one of the two amazing designers behind the Magpie Vintage brand of jewellery, first telling me about her; "you have to see her work, it's unbelievably delicate and exquisite ~ and the hand-stitching is so fine you can't even see it."

"My bridal designs are feminine and fresh, perfect for the stylish modern Bride who loves beautiful things.  My work is very detailed using silks, laces, beaded fabrics, feathers and hand made flowers (which I/we make by hand).  Many of my pieces have a slight vintage feel to them, but comfort is the upper most important; you need to put on your headdress or hat and forget its there, so you can enjoy the day!"

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery – All Imagery kindly provided by Edwina Ibbotson

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery... Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

How did you start out?..."I was doing Photography and film/video at college, and my boyfriend at the time always took a better photograph than me, so decided to give something else a try.

I have always been crafty since I was small and did a lot of making things with both my Grandmothers and would spend hours and hours pestering my poor father to help me make more furniture for my amazing dolls house…"

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Qualified or Self Taught?…A friend of mine said she was joining a millinery class, and I ended up going instead of her! I went on to obtain some millinery qualifications from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, but I was also taught at The London college of Fashion."

Edwina (below right) fitting one of her designs on to her Assistant…

Photograph below Copyright (c) 2010, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Do you have a Muse?… "I don't have a muse, though I can think of many women whom I would love the opportunity to make something special for.  My clients include Countess's and Ladies, to the everyday Brides and race goers, all of whom who understand that what is on her head is as important as the dress she wears.

My collections are divided up into samples suitable for brides, mothers of the bride and groom, other wedding guests and a large part of my work is for other social occasions such as Henley, Ascot, The Derby (other race meetings) and The Queens garden parties as well as Charity parties.  More outrageous pieces are designed for fashion shows etc…"

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery... Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Can you describe some of the processes  you use?…"I hand make everything, starting from the dying all my fabrics (apart from winter felts).  I make make my own blocks by sculpturing them out of Polystyrene, or mould them from a very traditional millinery fabric called Spartrie which is almost impossible to get hold of now.  I block the basic shape using very different methods depending on what fabrics I am using.  Once the shape has been blocked, it is stiffened and pressed so that it keeps the shape, then I sew all the components together and make and dye everything for the trim. The trim alone can sometimes take 3 days to make and sew onto the headdress/hat.

I work with a huge amount of fabrics, silks, laces, tulle's, veiling's, beaded fabrics, feathers, flowers (which we hand make) beads, crystals, straws, felts to name but a few, my favourite things to make are hand blocked felt hats; they mould so beautifully in your hand…"

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery... Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery... 

How did the collaboration with Magpie Vintage come about?…"My collaboration with Magpie Vintage came about after meeting Lisa and Tania at various shows.  We loved each others work and they asked me to make a collection of head pieces to incorporate some of their vintage jewellery.  So we did – and the pieces are very much my work with a little sparkly bling added!

I have loved working on all the pieces I have made for them so far, some pieces are made from vintage flowers that I have collected over the years (and they have found), some from feathers but all have pieces of jewellery attached in one way or another."

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Can you describe the Edwina Ibbotson experience?..."I have a shop in Battersea, London and my workroom is also there  This is really the only place that I sell from, although I do have samples of my work in a couple of couture designers showrooms; so clients come to me in Battersea for appointments, through I do get recommended to clients by lots of designers who I work closely with. 

When clients come to visit me, after an over enthusiastic greeting from my two dogs, they can expect to have a fun time trying on as many pieces as they like…"   

Photograph below Copyright (c) 2010, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery... 

 "I will seek to obtain a short description from each client of what  kind of dress/outfit they will be wearing, the occasion and time of day (wedding, races etc) and the style of venue.  I will have picked up some idea of what they are looking for and hopefully an idea of their character and what I think would suit them best. 

Hopefully I have something similar to the ideas we both have for them to try on; I take ideas which they like from various pieces and then create something totally individually designed for them; 95% of my clients order the 1st piece that they try on.  A few come to me and order a hat/headdress,and then go and find an outfit to match; they are the real hat lovers."

Edwina at work in her studio…

Photograph below Copyright (c) 2010, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

"Once the client has decided what design they would prefer, a fitting will take place.O  nce the piece is finished and the client is very happy with it, we practise putting it on together to make sure that the design can be worn at the correct angle and position, and that the client is 100% comfortable with attaching combs etc. Hopefully the whole experience is really enjoyable and fun – after which, simply buying a ready made or off the peg hat will never be good enough again!"

Photograph below Copyright (c) 2010, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Plans for the future?..."My plans for the near future are to at last finish setting up my Website, and to work more with my favourite designers – also to continue to grow with Absolutely Beautiful Weddings. Longer term, I plan to keep my shop and workroom in Battersea but to have an other smaller showroom in west London."

Can you provide a Price Guide?..."For my own Edwina Ibbotson Millinery, my prices range from £280 -up to £1400, but the average price is between £680/£690-£730.  

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

Final Words of Advice?…."When choosing your headdress think about whether you will still love it in years to come, so when you look back at the photos of your wedding day you would not want to change a thing!  For the Mother of the Bride/Groom, always choose a hat that will not give you shadows!  It's not a great look in the photos; an asymmetric and turned up off the face hat is always good (if suits), then at least you have one free side for kissing other guests. And asymmetric is very flattering to most people. Always choose a piece which compliments you and your outfit and does not take over, unless you are having an incredibly simple dress/outfit and can wear something a lot more dramatic."

Edwina also holds hen parties for clients…

"I like them to be approx ten in a party, it takes a whole day from 10:00 – 18:00, with lots of hard work on the day and before from myself and my team!!! But its great fun and everyone finishes with something  really beautifully made which they love and can wear to the wedding."

Photograph below Copyright (c) 2010, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Edwina Ibbotson Couture Millinery...

And Edwina's trend predictions for 2010? …

"Trends for 2010 are simple, clean smaller pieces, with silk, a little sparkle and lots of silk tulle".

Edwina's Millinery shop can be round at 45 Queenstown Road, Battersea, London, SW8 3RG ~ by appointment only {Monday to Saturday, 10am – 6.30pm}, telephone +44(0)20 74985390, or email Edwina directly.  As well as the Absolutely Beautiful Weddings event, Edwina will also be exhibiting at October's Designer Wedding Show.

Edwina, thank you so very much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to talk to Love My Dress.



Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.