Borderers are keeping a head of fashion in millinery race

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And they’re off…

Ladies’ day at Kelso Race course is on the May 26 this year and in anticipation of this hotbed of fashion, I felt that we should look at uber fashionable millinery and share the top trends and advice for making a statement in 2013.

Photographer-Ian Georgeson-07921 567360'Borders based Hat maker and designer Yvette Jelfs (Right) in her Hawick Studio, Yvette is producing hats for Jaeger in the new Regent street Boutique gallery

Photographer-Ian Georgeson-07921 567360'Borders based Hat maker and designer Yvette Jelfs (Right) in her Hawick Studio, Yvette is producing hats for Jaeger in the new Regent street Boutique gallery

Millinery is no longer just about hats but is now being described in terms of couture, with made-to-measure, individual designs that reflect the personality of both the client and milliner.

Ladies’ days at race courses from Ascot to Kelso, are showcases for fashion expressions that reflect the adventurous band of women who go to the races, to make a strong directional fashion statement.

Recently the focus of couture millinery has shifted to Scotland, with two leading exponents of the art having a strong Scottish Borders connection.

The “grande Dame of Hat Making”, milliner Yvette Jelfs describes in her biography how, as a young child, “I would make hats from sticks, feathers, flowers, mud and even leaves that would be so dead they only had a trace of the veins on them.”

Shehas recently set up her design headquarters and a retail presence in Hawick. From her new base in the Borders she designs and creates a beautiful range of couture millinery that will make you stand, quite literally, head and shoulders above the crowd.

Yvette’s trends and advice for a successful ladies day statement are: “The new styles for ladies’ days are bright colour. The midi and side sweep are very favourable as they don’t give you hat head [the line which goes across the forehead].”

Yvette also suggests: “For shorter ladies, wear a smaller pillbox with high trims to give you extra height.”

William Chambers is the other fascinating Scottish milliner with a strong connection to the Scottish Borders.

William has twice been voted as Scottish accessory designer of the year and trained at the Heriot-Watt University, School of Textiles in Galashiels. He passed with a first- class honours degree in textile design.

William then took a course in millinery and set up his studio in Glasgow where he has built an impressive client list including pop stars, Joan Jett and Suzi Perry. He has featured in prestigious fashion magazines, including Vogue and Elle and has supplied beautiful Scottish millinery across the globe.

William’s trends and advice for the season are: “Try on as many hat shapes as possible, this way you will find the one that suits you best.

“Don’t match all your colours, or the overall look will end up looking quite bland – or if you’re wearing a bright colour, a bit gaudy.

“I encourage my customers to try repeating their outfit colour in just the trimming of the hat or to be daring and go for a complete contrast. A beautiful, brightly coloured hat looks fabulous with a simple neutral coloured dress.

“Please avoid fascinators. They have now been banned from the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. If you are going to the races, treat yourself to a proper hat – it’s all part of the glamorous fun, and you won’t regret it.

“Remember a hat can do many things: you can either hide behind it or use it to accentuate your personality. It’s the exclamation mark to any outfit!”

William’s top trends for 2013: “2012 was the year the hat came back, and it looks like this year it’s here to stay.

“The Katherine Middleton effect is extremely evident – hat sales have dramatically increased since she started wearing them. She’s inspired some classic and chic looks which you’ll see more of this year – think small, simple, perfectly formed hats and headpieces that are not overly adorned.

“Because of the fascinator ban, I also expect to see more and more large, fabulous, luxurious hats at the races.

“Key colours for this year in my collections are ivory or white teamed up with metallics and black. Other popular colours include coral, midnight blue and magenta.”

So not only do we have a wealth of millinery talent with Scottish Borders connections, we also have a great opportunity to show off the results of that expertise, at the ladies day at Kelso races, and I look forward to seeing the results.

○ Mark Timmins is a designer and co-owner at Dizzymafella and is a former director of fashion at Heriot-Watt University school of textiles and design. He is a member at Creative-Borders