Simon Meanwell-Ralph, the founder of 'Marvellous Millinery' has been making bespoke occasion wear hats for discerning customers since 2011 in his rose garden studio at his home in Winchester, UK. He is happily married and has three loopy yellow Labradors. Hats have always been his passion. His hats have been worn to many elegant weddings all around the world and graced the covers of glossy magazines. He has also designed hats for the British Royal Family.
Simon Meanwell-Ralph working in his studio in Winchester
“I have always had a flair for the dramatic and a hat 'completes' an outfit perfectly like a flamboyant bow at the end of a magnificent recital onstage. It also, (pretty much) always draws attention to the wearer - a certain amount of 'look at me' because most people nowadays don't wear hats. Personally - I'm never seen without one - they're what I'm known for!”
His hobby is Amateur Dramatics - in particular Musical Theatre, and he often gets involved with helping with the costumes or set design as well as performing. When it comes to going to university, his degree was in jewellery design from where he gained many transferrable skills from his time designing wearable objects in precious metals, to now designing and creating 'jewels for the head' which often feature crystals and wires.
MIXED BERRY COLOURS COCKTAIL HAT
ROSE GOLD FLOATING BOW HALO HEADBAND
How did you start your millinery journey? What are your sources of inspiration?
"I have been making and trimming hats for my mother and sister for as long as I can remember - when I was in my early teens perhaps? Then, as the years went by, I was asked by other family members and friends to make hats for weddings until I was lucky enough to be able to take my passion and make it my everyday job - I love what I do for a living!"
Image: A childhood memory of Simon and his sister (aged 5 and 3)
"My inspiration lies squarely in two places - the beauty of flowers (particularly roses) which I grow in my own garden and also see when I visit National Trust gardens - particularly Mottisfont Abbey near where I live which as luck would have it, houses the national collection of old-fashioned roses - delightful! And the second inspiration comes from working with materials and objects that I amass in certain colour combinations - I then start 'sketching' ideas with my hands at my bench and see what blossoms from there. Every day is a new challenge - which I revel in."
Image by: kateizakphotography.com - The roses in the garden near his studio are his constant inspiration