Best of British
Milliner Rachel Trevor-morgan lists the Queen as one of her very VIP clients
Visiting Rachel Trevor-morgan, milliner to the Queen
RACHEL TREVOR-MORGAN’S atelier is at the end of a little winding passage in London’s St James’s area and up the creaky staircase of a higgledy-piggledy hatmakers’ building, which has been at the site since 1765. It feels like stepping into a Dickens novel.
Trevor-morgan opened her millinery workshop in 1990, after training with royal hatmakers including Graham Smith and Philip Somerville, and is now in Her Majesty’s small circle of go-to milliners. She has held the royal warrant since 2014 but began making hats for the Queen in 2006; she has worn them to Royal Ascot, her 80th-birthday celebrations at St Paul’s, her diamond wedding celebration at Westminster Abbey – and there is every chance that at today’s royal wedding, the Queen will be wearing a Rachel Trevor-morgan.
Sitting in an elegant little fitting room, filled with her latest confections – colourful clusters of handmade silk flowers, artful combinations of feathers and straw twists, and jaunty saucers with intricate bows – Trevor-morgan explains that her love of hats originated from watching her mother dress up in them when she was a child. ‘I always love looking back to the ’40s and ’50s when everybody wore hats all the time and they where just part of your outfit,’ she says. Now her signature look has ‘quite a soft feel’. ‘It’s very feminine,’ she says.
She makes her hats using traditional techniques with the help of three assistants. ‘I’m extraordinarily lucky because one of my assistants has worked for me for 25 years and another for 10 years, and they are utterly brilliant,’ she explains. ‘We hand block our hats and make our own flowers. I’m very hot on the hand-crafting and the finish. By making our own trimmings we can do something that other people don’t. If a client comes in with a beautiful print dress, we can make the flowers to match, which might involve dying three or four colours and putting them together to make a spray of flowers.’
She loves to wear them herself. ‘I will always wear one if I’m going to weddings or banquets, not that I go to many.’
She adds, ‘I love being in my workroom out of hours and just working on my own; for me, there’s nothing nicer.’ racheltrevormorgan.com
Clockwise from above Trevor-morgan in her studio; a mood board in the workshop; the Queen wearing some of Trevor-morgan’s designs. Interview by Bethan Holt. Main photographs by Alice Whitby