Ornate, stylish, and effortlessly captivating, Suzanne Gill Millinery is a bespoke headwear brand that fuses vintage designs with a modern elegance. Since her graduation from Leeds Arts University in 2010, Suzanne has worked with a myriad of acclaimed brands such as LK Bennett, the Royal Horticultural Society, and Moloh. Prior to her upcoming debut at York Fashion Week, we sat down and spoke with Suzanne about her passion for sustainability, architecture, and love for the Yorkshire landscape.
According to Suzanne, hat-making wasn’t always what she intended on pursuing. “I fell into millinery almost completely by accident … I wanted to find a skill that would fit around family demands.” It was when she started an evening course in millinery at York College that she began to realise her passion for the form, and decided to take the HNC millinery course at Leeds Arts University - where she achieved a distinction for her highly talented work. Suzanne has gone from strength to strength since, winning best hat at Cheltenham ladies festival and an International Hat Award for creativity. She was even invited as an upcoming designer to the embassy in Paris for an evening during Paris Fashion week, an experience that she describes as one of the highlights of her career. “It was pretty daunting trying to find something to wear,” she jokes, “but you realise these top designers are normal people like the rest of us. They just want to create something for people to enjoy.”
At home in the Yorkshire moors, Suzanne finds inspiration in the tranquil landscape and surrounding local wildlife. “The beauty of living here is that you can see the seasons changing. Whether I’m out with my dog or with my horse in the local area, I like to pick up on the colours and environment around me.” Suzanne’s experience of living in Azerbaijan also takes centre-stage in her work, where she translates her fascination with the country’s unique architecture into painstakingly crafted structural pieces. Her collection for York Fashion Week blends both these influences with design ideas inspired by a recent trip to the palace of Versailles in France. “While we were looking around I noticed a beautiful rose garden, where they had stunning pagodas made out of ornate lattice work.”
Suzanne takes pride in being sustainable, and her latest collection wants to make the most out of preloved materials. “There's so many old hats sat in vintage and charity shops just waiting to be reused again.” With this in mind, she carefully selects her fabrics as well. “I also use surplus materials from the upholstery industry and other textile companies, which I then incorporate into my designs.”
When asked what she’s looking forward to most about York Fashion Week, Suzanne explained that it’s the opportunity to support the best local talent. “Sadly the fashion industry in the UK is so London-centric. We’ve got so much creative talent in our area ... There’s so many young designers who don’t get the support they deserve and it’s important to be able to celebrate them”
Written by Maya Bewley