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A day in the life of Jane Taylor, milliner to Kate Middleton

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Jane Taylor, 33, is a milliner. She lives in Fulham with her whippet, Lupin

At 7am. I’ll meditate for half an hour then shower and have breakfast – I’m a vegan so I tend to cook for myself and make something like porridge with seeds and fruit. For meeting clients, I’ll put on an Amanda Wakeley dress, otherwise I’ll wear jeans and a T-shirt. Lupin and I will walk to work at my shop and studio on King’s Road in Chelsea.

Every hat that comes out of the studio. Along with my team of three milliners I make around 700 off-the-peg hats a season, which are stocked in Harrods and Fenwick as well as in my own shop. I also take on around 250 bespoke commissions a year, and personally add the finishing touches – like silk flowers, to every hat. A few years ago I was commissioned to make a vintage lace and crystal-embellished mask for Beyoncé which she wore on one of her tours. And I’ve had some wacky requests; once I was asked to make a hat in the shape of a burger, I had to decline as my style is classic with an edge. Generally my clients are mothers of brides and grooms or men and women who want something unique to wear. I have one client who attends a lot of royal races and orders 10-20 hats at a time, often dyed to match an outfit.

Jane Taylor's studio

Jane makes 250 bespoke hats a year – pick your favourite ribbon here

After doing a degree in embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University. My first hat collection – of 30 vintage-inspired hats – was made in my bedroom and sold out in a day to boutiques in Oxfordshire. I decided to move to London to expand the business but for the first three-and-a-half years, I lived on a narrowboat so
I could afford my showroom near Richmond. Money was tight, but I feared teaming up with an investor would mean losing creative control. Instead, I did everything myself: design, finance, bookkeeping, advertising, sourcing materials. It was a learning curve.

Is a mix of client meetings and actual millinery. When I’m working on a piece I start by seeing how a fabric works on the hat blocks (the wooden shapes the hats are made on) then steam and pin it in place, stiffening it if necessary and waiting for it to dry. If the design has a brim then I make that out of wire, stitch it to the edge and cover it in fabric. Trims such as feathers are dyed, cut and curled into the right shape. I work seven days a week, until 7pm, though I do give myself Saturday and Sunday mornings off.

Was when the Duchess of Cambridge wore one of my pieces to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Seeing it on TV was the best moment of my life – I was at my parents’ house with my friends and we had champagne to celebrate.

Jane Taylor studio

Power tools: everything Jane needs is in her King’s Road studio

Is having to work such long hours, especially during Ascot. People demand a bespoke hat in just a few days – I don’t get much sleep.

Is the creative process. For inspiration I look at catwalk trends, I particularly love Anya Hindmarch and Fendi – but I’m also inspired by the work of people like 19th century biologist Ernst Haeckel who drew beautiful botanical plants.

I’ll walk the dog and make something like a tofu stir fry. I try to be in bed for 11pm.


My Plan B: Animal Rescuer

I’ve always loved animals. When I was younger we had dogs, hamsters, rats, fish ­— anything I could persuade my parents to take home! I’d love to have a little farm somewhere in the hills, and have an animal sanctuary filled to the brim with rescues.


janetaylorlondon.com

Words: Georgie Lane-Godfrey, Alexandra Jones
Photography: Sarah Brimley
Hair and make-up: Lou Box @ S Management

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