The Business of Millinery: An Interview with Moody & Farrel

Moody & Farrel

If there was ever one thing I would take with me when I die it most certainly be my hat.  "Live your life, do your work, then take your hat," Henry David Thoreau is oft quoted.  From biblical times to the 21st century - we have always worn a cap upon our weary pates. The eternal chapeau! A true, refined wardrobe is never complete without a proper cap. Some of our most everlasting cultural icons are not complete without it. Moody & Farrel, based in London, is a totally unique, millinery worthy of some attention. Moody and Farrell just released their Autumn/Winter 2011 collection - "Inspired by the Powell and Pressburger film, 'I Know Where I'm Going!', [and] the Scottish highlands' rich colours and shapes. Materials are diverse- from oak (sounds heavy. Isn't) to wools and leathers." Pas Un Autre got a chance ask Eloise Moody of Moody and Farrel a few questions about her beautiful, often times surreal, but completely wearable creations.

Who is Moody and who is Farrel? And how did you get into the millinery business?

I am Eloise Moody and Farrell is my dead grandfather- Michael John Farrell. A most keen and the only hat wearer in a bare headed family. An inspiration who never saw me make a hat. I thought he'd be pretty pleased to have his name in so many hats.

You use some very unusual materials, or unorthodox materials I should say, - fabrics I don't usually see in traditional hat design or hat making, like oak, pig skin, lurex, and pony. Can you brief me on that - on some of the fabric choices?

My design process works best for me in this way: Find fabrics; work on shapes; finalise designs. The fabrics are fundamental to finding what shapes I will make and what processes I will use. I also think that there are only so many shapes people actually want to wear on their heads. Where you can make the final item more interesting and appealing (as well as more stimulating from a designers point of view) is by using more unusual materials.

Your hat designs seem very cinematic, but with a certain historical context - you mention that the fall collection is inspired by the Powell and Pressburger film, "I Know Where I'm Going!" - as well as the color and shapes of the Scottish Highlands. Can you talk a little bit about your inspirations?

A have a slight background in costume and still do make costume hats, so I've come across and had to make quite a few unusual pieces. Most elements of past fashions are recycled at some point so looking into historical hats provides a wealth of ideas. In general I like my hats to have bold characters. Inspiration does come from all sorts of areas- buildings, films, the amazing hour between being very tired and being asleep is awash with possibilities.

You also make bespoke hats. Do you have any special or notable bespoke stories? Any commissions you've been most proud of?

There are all sorts of commissions. At the moment I'm making a lampshade hat with a light-bulb inside that will turn on. Ping!

Moody & Farrel is available at the Shop at the Savoy and also Wolf and Badger in Notting Hill. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper.