UGLY LOVELY milliner Sahar Freemantle interviewed by Velvet d'Amour
VOLUP2 had the great fortune to be introduced to London-based milliner and costume designer, Sahar Freemantle of UGLY LOVELY by the wondrous Caroline at De Vallenger Design ,when she was styling our editorial PUT ON HER SOUL, which featured Kira Evans and Tulsi Vagjiani, both burn survivors. She is both a magical milliner as well as a brilliant woman, so much so, I thought we should dedicate an interview so our readers could learn a bit more.
I love that you have some of your hats made from roadkill, can you explain how that came to be?
Nature is way more amazingly complex and beautiful than anything I could create, so it makes sense to me to adorn my creations with nature, which is 'uglylovely' in essence. I won't have anything killed for my work, so roadkill or natural deaths is the way to go. In a way I feel i'm bringing the specimen 'back to life' by framing them on a hat and having them shown off in all their beauty- whether that's a butterfly, rose, or magpie.
How did you come about naming your business UGLY LOVELY?
UglyLovely was a name that summed up the style I created whilst doing my degree, a decade ago at Edinburgh College of Art. On the one hand it's rather humourous, with a sense of fun, but on the other hand, it's a deeper question of what beauty is. Take an insect - not traditionally seen to be beautiful but take a microscopic look and its easy to find the beauty in it - as it is when mounted on a lovely hat base with birdcage veil and Swarovski crystals. So when I use alternative materials like this, it challenges people - someone might initially be freaked out by an insect on their head, but can't help but be captivated by the beauty in the artwork when its being worn, as well as their own beauty and how flattering the hat is.
Whose millinery work inspires you?
I love the 1920s / 30s surrealist milliners such as Elsa Schiaparelli and Madamme Agnes - the way they mixed the art of the time into sculptural millinery is so inspiring still today.
What music do you like to listen to when you create (should you do so)?
These days I often work in silence, I'm not sure why! I think it's because I started dancing a few years ago so I find it hard to work and not dance when the music is on!! If I'm set to go out dancing in the evening I'll put on tango or blues to get me in the mood for the night-time milonga!
Have you a favorite hat that you have created?
I'm going to have to say my wedding hat; large and black with an abundance of real butterflies and beetles, Swarovski Crystals, net veil, and real roses which I've set in resin that my hubby gave me when we were courting!
Is there one person whom you would love to see wearing your designs and if so who and why?
I've always wanted to see one of my hats on Kelis, I love her style and the colours she wears, and her music too. I met her once and she was very polite despite being harassed by a bunch of fans. If I work with people, that they're genuinely nice is almost more important than if they're talented or hardworking.
You have created a workshop, HAT OVER HEELS, for women with hair-loss to come and make their own hat, tell about this and how someone may become involved?
For years I had people suggesting to me to make hats for Cancer patients. Although I thought it was a good idea, it felt a bit strange to make money from someones difficulties. One day I came up with the idea of doing a workshop especially for women who are undergoing hair loss, to make their own hat. I got funding and had amazing volunteers of professional milliners and seamstresses, so was able to offer it completely free.
What was interesting was that although it was a millinery workshop, the focus wasn't the necessity of having a hat. These women got to be in the company of others who understood what each other was going through, but without the depressive atmosphere of the cancer support groups. The value was really in the conversations that were had; forming friendships as well as having fun, being creative, and feeling feminine!
I would love to do more! If you're interested to attend, or would like to fund or host the next one, please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org