|Royal Warrant to the Queen, 2014|
Early life and career
The hat designer Rachel Trevor-Morgan was born in Stourbridge, West Midlands. Her father was a vicar and, as a child, she loved seeing her mother wear hats to church. She was a pupil at The Alice Ottley School in Worcester and, aged 19, moved to London intent on learning how to be a milliner.
She wrote to British milliner Graham Smith – hatmaker to Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins and Princess Diana among others – asking if she could see how he worked. He interviewed Trevor-Morgan and offered her an apprenticeship. She learned the trade for three years, as one of a workroom of 14 women in his studio near Oxford Street, then working for another royal hat designer Philip Somerville between 1988–90. Trevor-Morgan has said of her training with two of London's most celebrated milliners that Graham Smith taught her how to get the hat right and Philip Somerville taught her about "people relations". She has also described Smith as remaining her "mentor" when she needs advice.
Trevor-Morgan set up in business in 1990, initially selling her designs in the market at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. Soon she was supplying Fortnum & Mason; Harrods and Selfridges followed and, in 1992, her business moved to a 17th-century studio in the prestige location of St James's. By 1998, her reputation had grown to the extent that a feature in The Times included her in a list of go-to milliners in London, alongside much more established names such as Frederick Fox and Stephen Jones.
Trevor-Morgan began making hats for the Queen in 2006 – initially she was invited to create six sketches for review and then some designs were made. The first of her models was worn by the Queen at her 80th birthday church service at St Paul's Cathedral. The Queen then chose another of the designer's hats – a beige shot silk model – for her birthday lunch at the Mansion House – inspiring a Times journalist to note that Trevor-Morgan had now become: "a new recruit to a tight little band of royal headwear designers".
Trevor-Morgan works closely with the Queen's design team, including fashion designer Stewart Parvin and the Queen's senior dresser and assistant Angela Kelly. There is close liaison on colours and fabrics, with notable successes including the emerald green Parvin outfit and Trevor-Morgan hat – the shade chosen for its symbolic value – worn by the Queen for the first day of her 2011 state visit to Ireland. More recently, Trevor-Morgan hats have also been worn by other members of the British Royal Family, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
Trevor-Morgan still supplies London stores such as Fortnum & Mason as well as creating hats for private clients. All designs are bespoke, with fabric and straw dyed in the St James's studio. Trevor-Morgan has said she prepares her dyes in a saucepan, cooking them up to achieve exactly the right shade.
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