Inspired by Hong Kong’s electric skyline, lights, colours and graphic architecture, famed British designer Victoria Grant creates a special collection for the Sasa Ladies’ Purse Day
British milliner Victoria Grant
recently designed a collection of headwear for the Sasa Ladies’ Purse Day
– a glamorous race meeting jointly presented by The Hong Kong Jockey Club and Sasa International. The event – one of the oldest races in Hong Kong – attracts thousands of ladies dressed in their finest every year.
The renowned designer tells Perspective that the collection was inspired by Hong Kong. “The last time I was here, I was so excited by the electric skyline, lights, colours and graphic architecture,” she explains.
Some of the highlights from the collection include the “Architectural” piece, which is formed from sticks of red representing bamboo crisscrossing across the face in a sort of organised chaos and dotted with red crystals that dances on the catwalk under the lights, as well as the “Skyline Feathered Headdress”, a fun couture piece that has a tribal element and depicts the skyline of Hong Kong.
Grant is known for being experimental with materials, but she only works with materials of the finest quality. For this collection, she used Swarovski crystals to emulate the glistening effect of the lights. “Their rich colours and sparkle emulate the magic of the Hong Kong skyline at night,” she says. Besides the Swarovski crystals, she also used fine millinery materials for ascot and couture events, straws, fine feathers, jewels and rich fabrics, which she says “reflect the opulence and high style of Hong Kong”.
To complement Grant’s headpieces, models also donned on costumes designed by local designer Kev Yiu
, who studied in England’s Amersham & Wycombe College. Yiu says that it was a “great pleasure” working with Grant and that he feels “connected and familiar” with her works. He adds that their aim is to “show and reinforce the colour and the energy of Hong Kong”, and they both used “feathers to represent the elegance and movement of the energetic side and crystals to represent the glamorous side of Hong Kong”.
While Grant is now a recognised figure in the industry of hatmaking, the designer tells Perspective that she actually got into hatmaking by “accident”. “I was styling a photoshoot and realised it was missing a final touch, so I customised a hat with pearl buttons; in doing that, I had a flash of inspiration for hats and made a collection,” she explains. “The collection was immediately sold and when people called me a milliner, I quickly set about experimenting and exploring the art of making hats. I am self-taught as I prefer a more exploratory style of learning. This, I think, ensures that my hats are truly unique.”
While headpieces might not be commonly worn by the people of Hong Kong, Grant says that hats are suitable for everyone. “There is definitely a style to suit everyone, it is just about discovering what suits you,” she says. “Aesthetically, it is all about balance. If you have a rounder face, choose angular hats that perch on the side of your head. If you are tall, you can wear elegant wide brims tilted at a jaunty angle. If you are small and demure, choose delicate shapes in petite proportions.”
And it’s not just about matching the physical appearance; hats can also portray different personalities. The designer says, “If you like to have fun, you need a VG light-up hat. I am often thanked for the new friends made and invitations extended when my customers wear these hats!”
For those who are demure and mysterious, Grant recommends her crystal veils, which are an elegant and seductive addition to one’s wardrobe. But for the designer, her signature hat is the Kiss beret, which she sculpts by hand. “This style just seems to look fabulous on everyone,” she enthuses
Grant says she feels that no outfit is ever complete without a hat. “It doesn’t need to be a large statement hat, it can be a small percher, but just a hint detail on the head completes a properly tailored look,” she says.
“Headwear is an opportunity to bring out different sides of your character and express yourself. It is a chance to be really unique.”