Anya Morris - The Lytham milliner taking inspiration from her surroundings
PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 July 2019
One of the country's top bespoke milliners gets her inspiration from her seaside home in Lytham. She spoke to Angela Kelly
Ask acclaimed milliner Anya Morris where she gets the inspiration for her beautiful hats and she will tell you it's the sea and countryside around her Lytham home. In fact, Anya has always been influenced by her surroundings.
She was brought up in Thurso, 19 miles from John O'Groats and was taught to knit by her great granny when she was six, progressing to sewing dolls' clothes by the age of eight.
At 17, she was awarded a place at Edinburgh College of Art and, after her foundation, she I chose to specialise in fashion design and embroidered textiles although her flair for 3D design meant she was wanted by the School of Sculpture. 'I have now incorporated my skill of 3D design, along with my love of textiles, in designing headwear.'
Anya also took an HND in millinery at Leeds College of Art and Design and moved to Lancashire when she married 37 years ago. Today, she runs her own business from Lytham, where she has a studio where she designs and makes bespoke hats for all occasions. While a basic hat could easily cost from £95, the unique nature of these small works of art mean they are more likely to cost a couple of hundred pounds, reflecting the time, attention to detail and quality of materials.
Anya is no flamboyant Vivienne Westwood or Zandra Rhodes character. As she quietly explained: 'My bespoke designs are individually created to incorporate traditional millinery techniques, intermingled with contemporary styling.'
Clients come to her studio, often with a piece of material or a complete outfit for a special occasion, for a matching hat.
Materials used include felt, pari-sisal, straw and silk as well as modern materials. On one occasion, she picked out a small Perspex bangle complimenting one costly outfit and managed to use translucent film, normally employed over theatre lights, to create a novel see-through bow.
'For over two decades I have taken great inspiration from the natural world,' she said. 'I like to observe the life cycle of flowers and I'm inspired by the shapes of garden architecture such as the different designs of trellis and wrought ironwork.
'I love the shapes, forms and colours that the natural world provides throughout the seasons. I also incorporate my interest in embroidered textiles in my work by the use of beads and by make my own silk flowers. Occasionally, I add an embroidered bee or butterfly.'
This attention to detail and plainly close affinity to the natural world give Anya's hats a surreally beautiful quality that has prompted much attention.
For the last three years, she has had a hat selected and featured in the Xterrace exhibition at London Hat Week. Interestingly, the theme this year is 'World Garden' and Anya's headpiece 'Rose Anglais' has been selected not only for the exhibition but to be featured in the preview launch hosted by top fashion label Pinko in Knightsbridge.
'The trellis and roses in my garden inspired my design for this,' said Anya.
'I have depicted the different stages of bloom and there are three embroidered bees within my design to reflect their importance to our ecology.'
More unusually, a hat Anya created out of supermarket plastic carrier bags for an exhibition at Stockport Hat Museum also proved a hit with a client who bought it for her daughter to wear at her wedding!
Anya's hats are as likely to find their way to royal weddings, Royal Ascot and garden parties at Buckingham Palace. They have adorned the heads of brides, mothers of the bride and bridegroom and wedding guests and for the fashionable at race days.
Anya recognised a long time ago that having a hat specifically made for someone is highly personal, an individual reflection of their own style. 'It also makes women feel special,' added Anya. 'And that is actually what I am all about.'
ANYA'S TITFER TIPS
As a general guide, if you're small, opt for a hat with a little brim or no brim with a trimming that sweeps upwards to give the illusion of height. If you're tall, choose a style with a larger brim as it is more flattering.
Your hat should compliment your entire look so ensure you choose your outfit first. Your hat doesn't need to match t exactly but choose a colour that tones well. To pull the outfit together, think of the silhouette.
If you're the mother of the bride or bridegroom, you'll want to feel confident and comfortable while ensuring you're visible underneath the brim so opting for a side sweep style or a perching hat like a cocktail or disc style might work best.
People occasionally comment that they don't suit hats. There is, though, a style for everyone - as long as you stand tall with a smile on your face and a little bit of self-belief.