Made in Hackney: Noel Stewart makes ‘hat dreams come true’ from his studio in Ridley Road
- Credit: SS15 by Matthew Shave
Each week, the Gazette takes to the streets to unearth something being manufactured right here in Hackney. This week we visit Noel Stewart at Dalston’s Ridley Road Studios where he “makes people’s hat dreams come true”.
Keira Knightly, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch and Kylie Minogue are just a few fans of Noel Stewart’s hats.
He was studying for an arts degree when he made his first hat for a friend to wear to a wedding.
“I made it like a lampshade out of wire and tissue paper, but it was really beautiful,” Noel, who is based in Ridley Road Studios, told the Gazette.
“Vivienne Westwood saw the hat and thought it was amazing, and it spiralled from there.”
He took an evening class, went to work for a milliner, studied his masters at the Royal College and then set up his own label in 2002.
“I love the craft of it, and working with my hands, and collaborating with other people who have interesting and new and exciting visions of how we dress and present ourselves in the world,” he said.
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“I like that one day I can be making a hat for Michelle Pfeiffer to wear in a film, or red PVC bat ears to go with Victoria Beckham’s legendary cat woman outfit.
“When I started hats were very much on the wane. It was about the fascinator and these small jokey numbers, but I’ve been drawn to the chic elegant, clean, classic, dramatic styles and I’m lucky the people I work with have been up for that.”
His hats range from £22 for a “little hair band” to £5,000.