All pictures by Anya Campbell Looking around Siana Yewdell's North Devon studio at the array of beautiful, covetable hats of every imaginable colour and shape I find myself wondering why I have neglected this most unique form of dress. For there are hats here like works of art, cloches, head-dresses, fascinators, and then the imminently wearable and every day Harris tweed baker boy caps or berets.
Siana says she cannot remember a lightbulb moment when she suddenly decided to become a milliner, more the desire was always there, buried deep. In her twenties she trained with Rose Cory, the Queen Mother's milliner, for 3 years and soon after that had a collection snapped up by Barney's in New York. Nowadays she combines millinery with family life in North Devon, making hats for a growing range of private clients. 'Sometimes people will just send me a photo of a dress and I'll create something to go with that. But I'll never make the same hat twice, I want people to have something very special and unique." She describes her style as quite vintagey but with a twist. So you'll find a delicate cloche hat (very Agatha Christie), sweet little perchers (very 60s), feather head-dresses, felt turbans, a hat shaped like a poppy. What she does brilliantly is classic but with a serious streak of fun and quirkiness. Siana grew up in Kenya and the influences of her childhood are easy to see. She says she is obsessed with guinea fowl, a native bird, and many of her favourite creations feature the bird's feather. "I often come back to guniea fowl, it's a little bit of Africa I suppose." She has also started working with the Samburu tribe, where the women make stunning primary coloured beading. A line of stetsons featuring the bright beading is in the pipeline (festival head gear sorted). Nature in general and flowers, feathers and leaves in particular, also inspire her designs. There's a stunning blue percher with a bright red felt feather that would transform any wedding outfit. The detail on these hats and headpieces is painstaking. First the hats are stretched and moulded to the right shape over a hat block, then Siana concentrates on the flowers and feathers, each hand-made. On a head-dress or fascinator, as seen below, the detail is intricate and the pieces will take several days to make. A smart hat or head-piece will cost between £250 and £300. Siana also makes bridal head-pieces and on occasion she'll make the bride's dress too (she created the beautiful, floaty wedding dress for friend Catherine Fitzgerald when she married actor Dominic West). Consultations and fittings take place at Siana's North Devon home or in London though once a client knows her work, often she'll simply mail a photo of something she plans to wear and chat through ideas over the phone. Her designs, always beautiful, eye-catching and unique, are also immensely wearable. Find Siana at sianayewdall.com and more information here