And the Mad-Hatting begins…

Last week we visited the fabulous Kingston workshop of  milliner Bee Smith. Bee has been ‘hatting’  since 2010 and now creates her master pieces for all occasions, from Royal Ascot to weddings.

She describes her style as Nostalgic Glamour…heavily influenced by vintage pieces with just a hint of eccentricity. It’s this element that drew us to Bee….we are vintage girls who love to wear all things retro BUT, when it comes to Royal Ascot, eccentricity is KEY!

Bee is going to make the hats for our first two days. These, along with Ladies Day, are the most heavily attended by the fashion and atelier royalty. The paparazzi have a fabulous time between the hours of 10am and 11am; snapping away as the well-dressed racegoers make their entrance. We’re sure they’re going to love Bee’s creations!

However, this year we’re taking our style up a notch and creating strong vintage themes (watch this space!) for each of the days. With these strong briefs in mind we headed to meet Bee…hoping she would share our vision. She did!

We’ll be spending the next month or so putting the looks together whilst our fabulous milliners get sketching, and eventually making. We can’t wait to see the finished articles but in the meantime here are some pics from our visit. If you’re attending Royal this year and haven’t thought about your head attire, get in touch with Bee! She is so creative and clever…she will take your ideas and roll with them. Plus she’s a bloomin’ lovely lady too, so you’re bound to have a wonderful time when you meet her.

Bee’s Kingston workshop is within the uber-Artsy Fusion Arts building right in the centre of town. A prime location full of creative folk…it’s a real treat to visit.

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The space isn’t huge but somehow Bee manages to fit in all of her stock, materials and blocks.
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The Royal Ascot Rules are displayed permanently so that none of her customers are in danger of making a fashion faux-pas. (We’ve seen a few over the years; being escorted out by security dressed head-to-toe in green velvet must be rather embarrassing!)

Below are some of Bee’s new Ascot creations for 2015. See something you like? Get in touch! They’re fabulous aren’t they?

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Some of the happy customers of Bee’s bridal collection and some promo shots.
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And some of the wonderful press Bee has achieved over the years.
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Spot the Tootsies! A little pic of us sporting some of Bee’s classic vintage items in a shoot last year.
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Aren’t hat boxes the cutest? We have plenty of hats from past events, we really should invest in some pretty vintage striped hat boxes for them!
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Bee’s design and inspiration wall, with fried egg addition, naturally! We love the white netted hat based on a vintage 50s original.
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Another bespoke creation featuring Bee’s aforementioned eccentricity!

Bee developed an interest in sustainable and ethical fashion in her final year at Winchester School of Art. This has underpinned her current work…she sources vintage materials (a WW2 parachute, antique lace and vintage sari silk) to add uniqueness to her collections.

Below are some examples of Bee’s trimmings.

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Florals always go down a treat at Ascot….

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…proven here by some familiar faces last year 😉

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Hats by http://www.susiehopkins.co.uk

And here was our favourite piece in the workshop. Cake. Of course.

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You don’t need to be attending Royal Ascot or Buckingham Palace to wear a hat! If you and your friends fancy a night of creative fun Bee hosts Hat Making Parties…just drop her an email at bee@bee-smith.co.uk www.beesmith.co.uk

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