We interviewed short course tutor and professional Milliner Jane Fryers about her work in the exhibition, what inspires her, and her advice for aspiring creatives.
What is your full name and what short course/courses do you teach?
My name is Jane Fryers. I teach Millinery Workshop at Central Saint Martins where even complete beginners can make at least two hats in a week, and more experienced milliners can learn new techniques.
How did you come to work in Millinery?
I made my first hat on a Saturday course 20 years ago at London College of Fashion and fell in love with millinery. In 2005 I was awarded a scholarship by the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust to study with Rose Cory MBE, the late Queen Mother’s milliner.
Tell us about your work.
I have always been drawn to working with recycled materials. My Rechauffe Collection of hats with a past brought a stream of clients with pre-loved items of clothing that they ask me to turn into couture hats. I won Capelli nel Mondo with an old Costelloe jacket and came second in the Feltmakers Competition with two tatty felt hats which I sculpted into roses.
Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
Materials usually inspire my work, for instance I was asked by a film-maker to create a hat for her to wear to Ascot. I used a traditional millinery braiding technique to fashion a hat out of 35mm film. She made a film as I created her hat.
I stay inspired by meeting lots of people from many different backgrounds and being open to working with them to create something they want to wear.
What are you working on at the moment?
One of my favourite clients is an artist for whom I have designed several hats. The first, Vintage Bohemia, was made from tiny off-cuts of striped stair carpet trim, which is possibly the most difficult material I have worked with. My client now has dread-locks, so her head-size has increased. My hat-stretcher has done all it can…so I’m working on a plan!
Tell us about the work you submitted to be featured in the Central Saint Martins Short Courses exhibition.
My passion is fish leather. I came across it many years ago and have been using it to make couture hats ever since. I travel the world teaching milliners how to work with this fabulous, versatile material.
The work I have submitted is a version of a hat I made to be included in a book of 100 craftspeople that is being published later this year. I used a combination of a relatively new thermoplastic along with the more traditional buckram to make the block (the form used to produce the hat). Keeping the shape simple allows the beauty of the fish leather to shine. The emerald green leather is Indonesian Tilapia fish, the purple flowers are sculpted from Chilean salmon and the silver green stalks and leaves are made from Icelandic cod.
Which piece of creative work, in any discipline, do you think everyone should see and why?
For me it has to be the timeless Michaelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery in Florence. The crowd of spectators around you melt away as you look at his simplicity and strength.
What is the best bit of advice you have ever received?
My millinery tutor advised me to apply for a QEST scholarship that totally changed my life.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?
Follow your heart, and always remember that you can learn something from everyone you meet.
If you want to keep track of Jane’s work, you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram (@janefryersmillinery) or visit her website.