When I looked at a Lady Sharma hat for the first time, I immediately saw a work of art. I was intrigued by the beauty, intricacy and styling, each one individually custom created. I wanted to learn more about the story of the talented woman behind these art pieces.
Lesley Sharma established Lady Sharma Millinery in 2013. In just a few years, she’s become synonymous with colorful cocktail and large statement hats. Her creations have been sought out by clients from all over the globe and her designs have even appeared in London Fashion Week. When not on the catwalk, Lady Sharma hats can be spotted at a range of events from horse races, weddings, cocktail parties, dinner balls, theater and concerts.
She gets inspiration from her love of British gardens and harkens back to memories of childhood and of her mother – a talented woman herself, who would hand sew embroidery and who also had a huge garden with the gift of a green thumb.
“Whilst my siblings would be out and about enjoying their teenage life or blasting 80’s music in their bedrooms, I, the youngest of 8 with my wellies (boots) on would be experimenting on flowers, plants, weeds and all sorts of garden species,” said Lesley. “It is a memory I have whenever I see gardens and a design creation I will always have in my collections – flowers!”
Her craft takes place at her home workshop in Warwickshire, located in the West Midlands region of England. It’s a focused and relaxing place where she can escape and it allows her to pool her ideas and inspirations from travels. In her workshop, you’ll find rolls of straw and several wooden blocks to hand block the bases of her hats. Her hats are mostly decorated with a British look and are inspired from the vibrant hues and views out of her window onto her garden as she sews.
“From front to side and back, I have a landscaped garden where there are several colours that sit vibrantly together, often my hats represent this,” said Lesley. There is no denying the beauty of these hats but I had to learn more.
Danny: It’s always struck me that women in the UK love to wear hats, any ideas why?
Lesley: It gives each lady that special feeling when dressed with a hat. The general public of young and old women adore the elegance of the royal fashion icons, from Princess Lady Diana to the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, women can relate to their fashion. Even her Royal Majesty the Queen stands out at every occasion with the perfect colour co-ordinated outfits, my mother certainly still admires her whole style. [line]
Danny: Are there certain occasions when a hat is a must-have-accessory and are there rules for what women can/can’t wear?
Lesley: There are definitely different hats for different occasions. Throughout the year would be weddings, christenings and funerals. At these occasions you would not want to upstage everyone, especially the bride and groom! Therefore, one would usually wear a traditional classic brim and crown hat, pillbox hat or a fascinator head piece to complement your outfit and for respect in dressing smart for the occasion. Summer weddings could be more colourful and winter weddings would be a heavier weight, felt fabric hat and maybe darker fall fashion colours, with sparkly head pieces for evening.
For summer Horse Races such as Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, these are the times you will find that ladies can dress as extravagant as they wish. Some hats are designed only for these occasions and not something you would wear to a wedding. The height, decoration and size are so flamboyant but you would not feel out of place as the event is full of ladies trying to out-do each other. A day for fun, fashion, food and Champagne! There are winter races too in which the perfect winter long, wool coat outfit is dressed with a felt hat either cloche style or beret decorated with small feathers or veil netting. This is the traditional style of British Millinery.
The social events also includes Henley Royal Regatta boat race, Polo Gold Cup, Wear a Hat Day and more. [line]
Danny: How would you encourage more U.S. women to wear hats?
Lesley: I have quite a few clients in the U.S. actually and one who has bought from me the most beautiful and tallest hat I have made — she wore it to a horse show in Pennsylvania. However, I would love more women to wear hats no matter which country, but since the U.S. has the most wonderful weather, more women should give hats a try. Try a hat for a vacation – the perfect time to wear large brim hats. There are also garden parties and wedding functions – the best times to glam up with a decorated hat. At an evening dinner ball or theatre, these occasions would best suit a sparkly headpiece or cocktail hat. These are all great social events to wear hats and without the need to worry about rain like we do in the U.K.!
There are also plenty of daily events such as lunching with the ladies in a large floppy sun hat, or tea party with a headpiece, evening out for drinks with a cocktail hat. Believe me it certainly adds a finishing touch to your outfit. [line]
Danny: Any last words of advice to our female readers?
Lesley: I would say always try something new and daring. You do not need to explain yourself to anyone you don’t know who passes you by, although you might make heads turn, and you will bound to inspire the people around you that you do know. I went out for a casual evening meal and drinks in a nice London restaurant with my husband and wore a small beret hat decorated beautifully with sparkles but just with my jeans and a nice top. The amount of compliments from other ladies and pairs of eyes staring was unbelievably funny.
Yet there are often times when I am rushing to the post office to send a hat parcel to clients, dashing out of the door with a hat on to hide my scruffy look from being in my workshop all day. Surprisingly each time, I get complimented by people in the queue, they love my hat…
Whether you are making an effort in going out or to disguise for any reason, nobody knows except you that the hat makes you feel good and all they see is the beautiful outfit you have created.
Boost your confidence with a Lady Sharma hat, my hat is my Crown!