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Hilperton WI back in hats!

August Meeting for Hilperton

Marrison Millinery - Debs Marrison-Wood

Thursday 5 August 2021

Report by Monika Heaton

When we walked into the village hall we were greeted by Debs’ display of hats and fascinators. She had brought a big box of magic – enough hats for everybody to choose one to wear.

Debs’ talk started with a summary of how she became a milliner. About ten years ago she

was made redundant and looked for an alternative career. As she had always liked sewing, she went on a millinery taster course and liked it so much that she enrolled on a ten-month course at Lackham College. Apart from learning all the necessary skills she was exposed to the work of very well-known and influential milliners such as Jane Corbett (who makes hats for HRH the Duchess of Cambridge), Edwina Ibbotson and Ian Bennett, and through them to a range of different styles.

She worked from home, but after an unfortunate incident when her cat took too much of an interest in one of her hats, she moved to a workshop at Paxcroft Farm. Debs showed us a range of materials used in hat-making and the different tools used to shape the hats and accessories. Very important are the wooden blocks which determine the shape and size of a hat. Debs makes hats that a client can buy or hire. For her, it is important to get to know the

character of her client, the occasion when the hat will be worn and the outfit it has to match or complement. She wants the client to feel comfortable and confident when wearing the hat, and the client has a lot of input into the design of the hat.

Debs admitted that sometimes hat-making can be physically demanding and that after ten

years in the business she felt that her hands are starting to suffer. It was touching to hear that at times she does not see the beauty of her creations, only the hard work. But when she then sees the hat on a catwalk or being worn by the client, she thinks “Doesn’t that look wonderful?”

Her business was, like many others, severely affected by the pandemic – no weddings, no

special days at the races. Compared to mass-produced hats, Debs’ creations are very good value for money. And we hope that her clients will quickly return once we get back to a more “normal” way of life. She has plans to expand into menswear and children's wear, and she is working with chemotherapy patients to develop turbans which are easy to wear, but also comfortable.

This report does not really do justice to the interesting evening we had, our experience of

seeing and wearing all the beautiful hats, and Debs’ enthusiasm, skill, knowledge and creativity.

Report by Monika

- Submitted by Jean Mills, Reports Secretary Hilpertonwise WI


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