From his exclusive store in London milliner to the stars David Shilling talks hats, design and being exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Young talented and successful, David Shilling creates the most sought after hats in England. Celebrities, aristocrats and the super-rich regularly purchase his one off creations.
From the age of twelve he designed hats for his mother to wear to Ascot which drew the attention of the press. When he left school he worked by day and designed hats in his spare time, opening a shop on London's fashionable Marylebone Street in 1976.
This is a man who makes millinery look easy, but living and working in the seemingly frivolous world of fashion goes hand in hand with a certain set of pressures.
Designing is terribly serious, and it's not just a matter of thinking up a pretty hat...I have to not let my customers down.
Works of art by Noel Coward and Andy Warhol decorate the walls of David Shilling’s shop on Marylebone High Street. The designer himself is no stranger to the world of art, as his hats have been exhibited in both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
In an era when paintings by old masters are being purchased purely as investments, perhaps the decorative arts are now coming into their own.
Hats are a rather nice form of art, and certainly worth looking at.
Unlike other designers, David Shilling takes a hands on approach to each hat that leaves his workshop. He starts by sketching ideas for his collections which are passed onto his small team of milliners. Each hat is then trimmed personally by him,
Everything that leaves here...I oversee it.
All accessories for the hats are made in the Marylebone workshop. The one type of hat David Shilling finds a challenge to design is a fur hat. If they are too big and heavy they tend to look old, which he does not like, as
I like to take ten years off a woman's life.
This report for 'Summerhouse’ was broadcast on 26 August 1980. The reporter is Vincent Hanley.