Milliner Keely Hunter isn’t like most hat-makers, oh no, her head-worthy creations are made entirely out of wood.
She even makes lightweight baseball caps, would you believe.
“New build for me was all about not only pushing the boundaries of millinery, but also about challenging the idea of what a hat should look like, how it should be worn and what a hat should look like” explained Hunter.
“Wood is such a beautiful, clean and versatile material. In this collection I have tried to explore that, by using different types of wood – for example a paper-thin flexi type of wood that I shipped over from Finland. It’s beautiful and so light. It was an interesting challenge to me to present something that’s usually seen as flat, heavy and hard and re-contextualise it within the realms of fashion.”
The London-based designer used to work as a tailoring buyer for the Arcadia Group, before deciding to train as a milliner at Kensington and Chelsea College.
“Buying tailoring gave me a great commercial background, and my role also covered product development so the job offered me the chance to look at everything from range planning to the ins and outs if garment design and creation,” she explains. “I often see a lot of the rules of tailoring echoed in my work now.”
With many of her designs commonly seen at Ascot and bought by Fenwick, Keely believes that engineering, sculpture and architecture are the three main inspirational factors behind her millinery visions.
“Fashion is art and if you break that down millinery is the sculpture,” says Keely. “I love working on something that’s three-dimensional, that you can hold in your hands and that keeps its shape. A garment, although beautiful, remains flat until you put it on the body – a hat is always 3D. My mum is a hairdresser and my Dad is an engineer – I think I get my love of construction from them.”
With a love of construction and all things bespoke, it seems Hunter has high hopes for her future in the design industry.
“I ultimately want to contribute something new to the industry in terms of ideas, technique and design,” she says to Vogue UK.
“I’d also love to partake in designer collaborations and London Fashion Week. I want to provide a bespoke service to my customers that looks at how we can explore new ideas together, and also gives them a piece that inspires and that they love wearing.”
Keely Hunter is definitely one to watch.