Whist at Royal Ascot 2011, Eclipse Magazine’s Fashion & Beauty Editor Karen Grace spied an eye-catching black and white hat only to find the wearer was self-taught milliner Ilda di Vico – who kindly agreed to a quick chat:

Tell me about the outfit you are wearing today.

“I started thinking of the design and began work on the hat months ago.

“I bought some Chanel fabric from Joel and Son in London [England’s leading couture fabric store] and asked my local tailor to create a Dioresque suit. I then trimmed my hat with frayed pieces of the same fabric. The hat is made from Sinamay, a type of straw and costs around £900.”

How did you get started in the millinery business?

“When attending events like Royal Ascot, I could never find a hat design I liked, one which had the wow factor and was a bit different. So I started making my own hats and found it came naturally to me. Other women noticed my designs and also wanted me to make theirs.

“In order to become a qualified milliner, I took evening classes at the Chelsea and Kensington College, and finished with distinction. I now own a boutique in Sunningdale.”

How much is the average hat?

“A small hat starts around £65 and the more expensive can go up to £1000, but the average is around £400.”

Are your hats mainly off-the-peg?

“There are about 200 styles of hats on display which can be bought off-the-peg. But the majority of my clients want more of a made-to-measure hat, so we change the colour to match their outfits, add extra embellishments  and tweak the designs around their requirements.”

Have you had any celebrities wear your designs?

“Both the mothers of the bride and bridegroom at Amanda Holden’s wedding, Lizzie Cundy, Melanie Mar wore one of my hats this year to Royal Ascot and Sofia Hayat, the Bollywood actress.”


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