Fascinated with fascinators: 11 milliners you need to know about for (royal) wedding season

Inspo for getting your head in the game.

Inspo for getting your head in the game

(Source, left: Instagram/@joshuawerber, right: Instagram/@piersatkinson)

According to English royal protocol, women must wear hats to all official occasions, which explains why they're centre stage at holidays and special events. And on the eve of a royal wedding, it's hard not to get swept up in fascinator fever. Just because Canadians don't share the same traditions doesn't mean we can't get in on the action. With spring wedding season in full swing, there's no reason you shouldn't don an interesting headpiece too. We've tracked down 11 milliners you need to know about to keep your head in the game.

Joshua Werber

An artist and flower designer by trade, Brooklyn-based Joshua Werber transforms bouquets into beautiful crowns and headpieces (if you don't follow him on Instagram, you should). He finds as much beauty in a single stem of orchids as he does an entire arrangement of anthurium, a neat row of chives or a spray of laurel sticks. Recently profiled by the T: The NYTimes Style Magazine, he also collaborated with Rihanna's stylist to create the floral hair clips she wore at this year's Grammys.

Kirk Maxson

I first came across Kirk Maxson's work when I interviewed him about his collaboration with Victoria's Secret for the Shanghai show. They discovered him via Instagram where he posts selfies wearing crowns he creates out of brass oak, laurel and olive leaves. Having worked as a metal artist for 30 years, his fascination with Greek myths and art is clear. So convincing are the leaves and flowers he hand-cuts that you have to do a double take to make sure they're not the real thing.

Eugenia Kim

Firmly planted among the new guard of modern milliners, Eugenia Kim seemed destined to design hats. Following an unfortunate haircut, she made herself a feathered cloche as a disguise, but instead got noticed by the buyers at Barneys who immediately placed an order. Shortly thereafter, she opened her first storefront and the brand was born. Now one of the most sought-after contemporary hat designers, her witty designs (like the sunhat embroidered with 'do not disturb') garner instant must-have status.

Jane Taylor London

Jane Taylor is known for her blue-blood clientele. A favourite of Kate Middleton's (she wore white Taylor creations to both George and Charlotte's christenings), her classic British designs have been seen on princesses and duchesses across Europe, as well as stateside on Queen Bey. For wedding guests, her pillboxes and brimmed hats are the perfect addition to any outfit, but if you're really looking to splash out, she'll create a custom bespoke hat with a clutch and gloves to match.

Maison Michel

Established in 1936, Maison Michel earned its stripes for its couture collaborations with Christian Dior and Christian Lacroix. In 1996, Chanel bought the house to add to its stable of heritage craft workshops. But the aesthetic really changed when Karl Lagerfeld appointed Chanel's head of accessories to take over the creative direction. Since then, veiled cat ear headbands and pearl-trimmed boaters have upped the cool quotient. It doesn't hurt that it's a fashion model and movie star favourite with everyone from Katy Perry to the Kardashians spotted in their styles.

Piers Atkinson

It was the charming cherry headpiece first seen on Japanese Vogue editor (and street style darling) Anna Dello Russo that catapulted Atkinson to fame. Now at the beginning of every new season, he crafts 50 fresh styles in his London studio to be shown during fashion week and often collaborates with other designers for their runway presentations. His whimsical designs include everything from exaggerated leopard bowlers and pompom festooned veils to headbands decorated with plastic fish and fuchsia feathered caps.  

Benoît Missolin

French born Benoît Missolin began his career at some of the most prestigious fashion houses in Paris before finding his passion for headwear and launching a millinery line. At once daring and approachable, his playful designs have appeared on the couture runway at Alexandre Vauthier and been worn by both Kate Moss and Bella Hadid. While you may not want to wear one of his ruffled ball caps to a wedding, you could certainly get away with a silk turban headband or an oversize lame bow.

David Dunkley

You would be hard pressed to find a hat that wasn't designed by Toronto milliner David Dunkley at the annual Queen's Plate thoroughbred race. So popular are his designs, that he was named the official milliner of the event in 2013. His taste veers towards the traditional, which makes sense given he trained under the Royal Milliner to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and his collection of hand-carved wooden blocks are often his jumping off point. Look to this Canadian for everything from Easter bonnets to fascinators made from feathers, fur and flowers.

Lilliput Hats

Karyn Ruiz is among the best-known milliners in Canada. She has adorned the heads of notable Canadians including Gord Downie, Rachel McAdams and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau with her hand-made hats. She's also a darling in the editorial world having crafted headwear for photo shoots and celebrities for almost 30 years. Imaginative and architectural, some of her most stunning designs are those with delicate veils. And if you're a bride-to-be, what could be chicer than an ivory headband filled with leather-tooled flowers or creamy French netting piled into an elaborate fascinator?

Wilhelm NYC

There are flower crowns and then there are the petal-inspired pieces Megan Guip whips up for her headwear collection Wilhelm NYC. After a chance encounter at a dinner party, her designs started to get noticed on Instagram It-girls and shortly thereafter she left her 13 year career at J.Crew for a fresh start in accessories design. Her heady mix of lush flora and fauna conjure up the headpieces worn by woodland princesses straight out of a storybook.

Jennifer Behr

Jennifer Behr isn't the first name that comes to mind when you think of fascinators but her collection of barrettes, bows and tiaras deserve to be highlighted when it comes to headwear. A trained sculptor, she honed her skills in a small New York millinery shop before striking out on her own. Crystal-covered bobby pins, fragile-looking floral tiaras and silk turbans spun into rosettes have caught the eye of scores of celebs and established her aesthetic in the realm of the ethereal.

Caitlan Moneta (@caitlanmoneta) is a Toronto-based fashion editor, writer and stylist. She's a firm believer that there's nothing a little retail therapy can't fix.