A perfect partnership looks set to make this year’s Glorious Goodwood an even bigger highlight in the fashion calendar. Lifestyle editor Sheena Campbell talks to official milliner Vivien Sheriff.
Beauty and attention to detail come together in Vivien Sheriff’s headpieces and hats. Her sculptural creations saw her named as the designer who dressed the most guests at the royal wedding and this year her company was Harrod’s best-selling milliner for the fourth year running.
Now, she has been named the official milliner for Glorious Goodwood 2014 and has created a limited edition range of panamas for the occasion, incorporating classic design with the feather detailing and sense of fun seen throughout her collections.
Describing the collaboration as ‘truly exciting’, Vivien said: “It is so beautiful up at Goodwood, it is probably the most beautiful racecourse in the world.”
English scenery and nature are key to Vivien’s creations – her design team is based in the Wiltshire countryside.
“I love not being in London,” she said. “I love the fact the design team is not influenced by other people’s work. Our influence is the great outdoors.”
Although the Goodwood trilby panamas may look more simple than the distinct silhouettes seen in many of Vivien’s collections, the care and attention to detail is still there.
“They are true panamas because the material comes from Ecuador,” she explains.
“What denotes a panama is actually the straw used, it is toquila straw. It is finely woven by hand, meaning it can take up to three weeks to make one piece. They are built here in the UK in traditional shapes – we are using a 1940s shape.
“The trilby suits Goodwood very well, and it is something you can wear again.”
Indeed with their light, summery shades and classic shaping, the panamas look set to be popular for more than just the races.
“I think the lovely thing with the panamas is you don’t have to dress them up so much. You can just want one, you don’t have to have an occasion to wear it.”
The panamas are being sold exclusively at Harrods apart from select pop-up shops at Goodwood Kennels – the next one is on Thursday, May 22.
The event also offers a unique opportunity to see highlights from the rest of the SS14 collection, inspired by two very different themes – the war poets and the approaching World Cup.
The first half of the collection is made up of subtle blues, greys and creams – one of my personal favourites is the Brooke – while the second half reflects the vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro and the carnival.
“Lots of these pieces will be worn to Glorious but the trilby is something that is really special for Goodwood,” said Vivien.
There are 14 people in the Vivien Sheriff design team and creating a collection is a truly collaborative process.
“I have a team of unbelievable designers, that is why the collection is quite diverse. I have an incredible senior designer I work with very closely.”
Despite its success – the Duchess of Cornwall, Pippa Middleton and Zara Phillips are all customers – the millinery business has been running only since 2005.
Vivien was working buying and selling vintage fabrics before founding the company and turned to millinery because she wanted to create a truly quality range, where every detail – even the trimming – was perfect.
“I really started this from a desire to make far more beautiful pieces than were out there,” she said.
“I made an initial collection of headpieces and hats for Selfridge’s and they took the whole lot.”
Now, Vivien Sheriff has customers from around the world and the team has recently linked with both the Dubai Cup and the Melbourne Cup.
So, is there anyone Vivien would truly love to see wearing her designs?
“I think the first lady, I think she looks so stylish,” said Vivien.
“I would really, really like her to be seen in one of our pieces, she is so beautiful and tall and I would love to make things for her.”