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'To me, a hat is more than an accessory,' says Tori Single. Silvia Razgova / The National
'To me, a hat is more than an accessory,' says Tori Single. Silvia Razgova / The National

A head for hats: Abu-Dhabi based milliner Tori Single talks about her artistic headpieces

Juzbi Walia Shahpuri talks to the Abu Dhabi-based milliner Tori Single, whose artistic headpieces were a success at the Dubai World Cup 2013

How was your love for designing hats born?

I got into it almost by accident and have never looked back. I have always been passionate about fashion, art, sculpture and design, and creating hats involves all the above. So, in a way, millinery was a natural fit for me. I am largely self-taught. To me, a hat is more than an accessory or an item of clothing it transforms the wearer and provides an air of confidence and panache that you can rarely get from a pair of shoes or a dress.

You have been creating hats for three years now. How is Vivienne Morgan Millinery (VMM) growing as a business?

Most of my clients come through word of mouth I get constant referrals from existing clients. So, I have never really felt the need to heavily market VMM, except on social media as it is convenient and effective. I already have a lot more than I can handle.

Im now designing my next collection of hats and am really excited about the launch. I would love to collaborate with a local dress designer and create a collection of hats to complement their designs and jointly present the collection on a catwalk here in the UAE.

Who has been your strongest style inspiration?

The three great milliners in my view are Philip Treacy, Stephen Jones and Piers Atkinson. Im an avid Vogue reader; in terms of fashion designers, McQueen, Dior and Chanel never fail to -inspire me.

The romantic, surrealist dreamscapes created by the fashion photographer Tim Walker are always at the back of my mind when Im designing a new collection. Ive been using Pinterest for inspiration recently and it is such a handy way to collate colour, texture and style ideas in online scrapbooks.

Tell us about your creative process what goes into making a hat?

Each Vivienne Morgan Millinery piece is designed from scratch, then hand-blocked and hand-sewed. It takes between eight and 20 hours per hat. Millinery materials can be quite fickle sometimes you want a piece to curl to the right but it naturally wants to curl to the left. You have to work with the materials, not against them.

I source raw materials from all over the world. You get beautiful silk in Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre in Abu Dhabi, which I like using with vintage brooches bought in London markets. I like peacock and partridge feathers for their natural patterns and colour variations. When creating a bespoke piece, I often dye feathers or materials to exactly match a clients outfit.

What are the hardships and rewards of running an independent creative venture such as yours?

There are no hardships. It is rewarding creating a hat for a client and then seeing them try it on for the first time. I love hearing my clients talk about the compliments they receive when they wear my hats to the races or a wedding. People under-estimate the power of the right hat.

Visit www.etsy.com/shop/viviennemillinery or email vmillinery@yahoo.co.uk for more information

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