David Shilling

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David Shilling
David Shilling

(1949-06-27) 27 June 1949 (age 69)
London, UK
EducationSt Paul's School, London
Parent(s)Gertrude Shilling (deceased, 1999)
Ronald Shilling(deceased, 1988)

David Shilling (born 27 June 1949) is an English milliner, sculptor, fashion and interior designer[1] synonymous with designing extravagant hats and clothing displayed on Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.[2]


David Shilling was born in London in 1956 and attended St Paul's School, London.[3][4] He began to design hats and outfits at the age of twelve for his mother, Gertrude, until she died in 1999.[5] The hats were designed for Gertrude to wear to the Ascot horse races. At the age of thirteen he began selling toys to his local toyshop, before moving on to sell clothing accessories like scarves to major retailers (for example Fenwick's, Fortnum and Mason's, and Liberty). He left St Paul's school with the decision to pursue design.

Early days[edit]

David Shilling opened his first store in Marylebone High Street in 1976; two days after its opening the store received an order from a rock star's wife for twenty four hats.[6]

His first collection was purchased in America by Bloomingdale's and other stores began selling his creations soon after. In the late 1970s one business, called Bergdorf's, charged up to $3000 for hats created by David Shilling.

The present[edit]

David decided to stop the wholesale branch of his hat-making works and focus entirely on made-to-order products.

In 2007 David Shilling displayed the first of an expected ten collections of hats (each priced at £1,000,000) at Top Marques, Monaco.[7] In November 2009 he held his first show in mainland China at the Ritz-Carlton, in Beijing.[8]

Notable events[edit]

- In 1988, the USSR invited Shilling to show his hats during the first Miss CCCP Pageant in Moscow, the first live TV broadcast throughout the USSR, which was allegedly viewed by 200 million.[9]

- In 1990 he headed a mission for the United Nations in Ecuador which was hugely successful and led to other projects as an art and design ambassador with the UN in Africa and Asia.

- In 1994 David was invited to design the emblem for Britain's Festival of Arts and Culture; due to this he became a driving force behind the new 'Cool Britannia' rebranding of Britain.[10]

- In 1998 his designs for theatre, opera, ballet, film and TV formed an exhibition at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.[11]

- A hat with diamonds created by David in the late 1970s was nominated by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive hat in the world in the 21st century.[12]

- In 2012 David Shilling held a preview of a collection of hats designed for men at the Monaco Embassy, London.

Charitable works[edit]

His charitable works include:

- Designing the logo for Consortium for Street Children

- Organising a millinery course in H.M. Prison The Mount

- Being on the British 'Number One' record "You’ll never Walk Alone"

- Supporting The Stroke Association, Action on Addiction and the Jewish Deaf Association

- Work on behalf of children in Brazil, India, the Philippines etc.

Work on show[edit]

David Shilling is now a respected Fine Artist, and is represented by the Redfern Gallery in Cork Street, London and Ferrero Gallery, Nice. His works may also be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum, The Louvre (Paris) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).

David's exhibition "David Shilling - The Hats" made an appearance at the Ulster Museum in 1981 during the tour of the UK; the exhibition was allegedly more popular than the museum's Rodin exhibition.

One of David Shilling's three-dimensional white canvases is in the British Government Art Collection and can be seen on their website.[13]

In 2005 David's steel sculptures were on display throughout Regent's Park and are now on show at Holdenby House, Northampton.[14]

Shilling's "Why did you get that hat" Exhibition has broken attendance records at:

The National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket (2001) International Museum of the Horse, Lexington, Kentucky (2002) National Museum of Scotland, Dumfries (2003).

An up-to-date list of past and present shows is available on David Shilling's website.[15]

The Media[edit]

"David Shilling’s special talent is a combination of design flair , meticulous eye for detail and a touch of the theatrical" The Observer

Stars linked to David Shilling's creations include: Raquel Welch, Kylie Minogue, Shirley Bassey, Cybill Shepherd, Joanna Lumley, Lauren Hutton and Chrissie Hinde.

David's hats have been photographed by Sir Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, Lord Litchfield, Lord Snowdon, Norman Parkinson, and Mario Testino.

A film on David Shilling, for BBC TV's 'Arena' was produced by Alan Yentob and directed by Nigel Finch in 1980.


  1. ^ Pearson, L. (4 April 2003). "A head for design". The Scotsman. Retrieved 25 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Freedman, L. (2010). "Vintage hats". BBC Worldwide. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  3. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/david-shilling
  4. ^ http://www.davidshilling.com/development.html
  5. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/david-shilling
  6. ^ http://www.davidshilling.com/development.html
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2009-11/23/content_9021921.htm
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ http://www.davidshilling.com/uptonow.html
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/search/Object.asp?object_key=10136
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ http://www.davidshilling.com/

External links[edit]