Behind the luxury brand Oscar & Willow Millinery is award winning hat designer and milliner Fleur Curtis. Millinery initially started out as a hobby for Fleur who previously worked in the NHS for 22 years. Her career started out as an auxiliary nurse in her hometown of Cambridge. She went on to be a Medical Herbalist, and then re-trained in 2007 as a Physician Associate, working in Cardiology across hospitals in Birmingham and then Shropshire. She went on to retrain as a milliner completing a 12-month course with Katherine Elizabeth, a designer milliner based in London. She has also been fortunate to attend workshops with several other distinguished milliners and will continue to do so.
In May 2021 Fleur won the craftmanship award in the Worshipful Company of Feltmakers Design Awards – a prestigious industry competition whose panel of judges included Rachel Trevor-Morgan, one of the Queen’s milliners. In the same year Fleur was also shortlisted in the HatTalk Magazine competition.
2022 and another shortlisted hat! Fleur entered the Bes - Ben Millinery competition run by the American Milliners Guild which was judged by prestigious milliners inlcuding Stephen Jones, OBE. Her hat was exhibited in the Texas Fashion Collection, in the NorthPark Centre, Texas, Dallas. It then went on to be exhibited in The Garment District of New York City.
January 1st 2023 it was announced that Fleur had been awarded the British Hat Guild Award! This exciting recognition and opportunity will see Fleur receiving mentorship throughout 2023 from two of the Guilds members, Sarah Marshall of John Boyd's Hats for couture millinery techniques, and milliner Beverley Edmondson for her business expertise. Finally, it's a Hat trick! Fleur has gained her third award with the Commercial Appeal prize in The Feltmakers Design Awards 2023.
Fleur uses both traditional blocking techniques, as well as modern freeform sculptural millinery techniques. Each hat and headpiece are sewn by hand in the Shrewsbury studio. Diligence to detail, quality, creating unique designs and getting to know her clients is what Fleur adores about millinery. Mostly Fleur loves to help people feel confident and look their best.
Fleur states “It’s so satisfying to see someone’s whole demeanour, posture and confidence change when they try on a hat or headpiece that expresses who they are, or how they would like to feel. It’s like creating a wearable piece of magic!”
There are always new techniques to be learned in millinery, which keeps Fleur inspired and passionate about what she does. She also feels it is so important in this age of advancing technology and machinery to keep traditional craftmanship alive.