Interview: Uma Turan - Milliner

I discovered Uma Turan's website a while ago and was instantly captivated by everything I saw. Of course, my very first idea was to do a post about her. But then I thought maybe I should try asking for an interview instead? So imagine my happiness when she agreed to answer some questions from me. Work related, but not only. I hope this will be as inspiring for you as it was for me.

♠ How do you see the relation between a hat and the rest of an outfit (clothes, shoes, bag, attitude)?
What you wear and how you wear an outfit tells all about you and your attitude and clothes and accessories of course complete each other. I can see how wonderfully cut black dress, pair of stilettos and a little black beret with bow would look fantastic. If you are in a mood of walking around the town but just want a little space from the crowd of people, wear a big floppy felt hat. You can be noticeable or discreet, it is your choice! Also great hat would make an ordinary outfit look like a million dollars. Whenever I wear a luxurious hat I always feel very special and complete.

♠ You first began studying theatrical millinery. How is it different in terms of requirements or freedom to create?
Theatrical millinery teaches you a lot of different techniques and of course you have a better understanding of how the modern pieces are based on theatrical pieces and how they were structured. My first collection was based on Elizabethan Period where I used my theatrical millinery knowledge. If you are trying to create an exact copy of a theatrical piece you have to be quite precise about the style, size and the most importantly the fabric which reflects the period.

♠ What is the most important thing you have learned while working with Stephen Jones?
When it was production time where I had to replicate pieces, I actually understood and adopted the technique. Also Stephen Jones collaborated with so many great designers, it was a fantastic learning experience in terms of understanding the application of style. Also working with many different kinds of materials you do remember the next time how the fabric is going to behave! I learnt a number of and tricks that you don’t get to learn in college. Mr Jones himself has always been an inspiration for me with his wonderful personality.

♠ How do you build a relation with your clients so that their wishes are fulfilled but also put your creative vision into it?
I always let my clients explain what they actually want. I show the materials, hat blocks, jewels, and the pieces (hat pins, broaches, vintage beads and laces,etc.) that I collect from the antique markets bit like a magpie! Sometimes they just look at my hats and say they quite like this or that style I have on my large collection but with the fabric of their choice, I am very honest if I think they would not suit to the style they want I would tell them straight away. So far I had some fantastic clients and they have mostly come back again with a friend.

♠ Where do you get inspiration from?
I do get inspired by anything that makes me happy and excited or sad and thoughtful. Love, emotions, friends, art, travelling, history, flowers, objects, (particularly special jewels and gold work), photographs, opera, music and more ... it can be anything to be honest. Sometimes I would find a shoe buckle or scrap material and start the piece with that. Then the chain of thoughts and materials add on to each other. The other day I lit my fig scented candle and the smell of the candle made me think of my long wonderful summer holidays in Turkey where I born, when I was seven years old and had my little sister with me sitting by the sea and we found a real pearl in a shell. Extraordinary! I just got up and found my pearl box and made a little headpiece with pearls.

♠ Who do you admire the most, in or outside the industry?
Stephen Jones. I admire his technique, his sense of style and his great personality. It was so much fun working with him. Outside, I have quite a few favourites as you can imagine. I do love details so I think Christian Louboutin’s shoes are absolutely gorgeous.

♠ What do you do in your spare time?
I love visiting romantic cities, photography, making jewellery and spending time with my friends in my spare time.

♠ Do you have a personal hat collection? If you do, tell us about it.
Yes, I do have a little collection of vintage French felt berets and some hats with lace. Also I have couple of fur hats that I love.

♠ Does your personal style influence what you create? If so, in what way?
My personal style is quite minimal but I have another Uma in my thoughts sometimes who would be Marie Antoinette or who would be in her 1950’s Balenciaga outfit. Therefore I do have mixture of very minimal hats as well as rather over the top pieces.

♠ What would your advice be for someone who wants to do what you do?
I would suggest them to have a little corner where they collect lots of fabric, feathers and bits and pieces and try to create something they love. There are some wonderful evening and part time courses available to explore the world of millinery. I would suggest trying out a few classes at those before studying millinery full time.
photo credits:

Sweet treats,


  1. I love hats! I have just finished a course in millinery and I find it so rewarding! It is relatively easy to make the basic shape and then it is all about your imagination! Uma's hats are amazing!

  2. This is a great post! I love hats so much, I wish they would become more mainstream again like the 50s. Thanks for the awesome interview!

  3. Hey, Jessica! I am so happy you enjoy the post!

    Hats are one of my biggest guilty pleasures. They make people recognizable by drawing attention to the face while also being a fashion statement. How could we not love them?

  4. Well, getting a customized hat for you shouldnt be a problem I see. Many designers are simply not ready to tackle the world's biggest and most wicked problems.

  5. anna, you are so right! most designers just choose the easy way out. millinery is such a great job to have, and it certainly must be very rewarding too!

  6. I thought the post said Uma Thurman.. sneaky one!

  7. Many designers are simply not ready to tackle the world's biggest and most wicked problems. search engine submission


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin