The Sybarite spoke to The Season Hats founders, Paul Safford and Selina Horshi, to discuss their inspirations behind the unique business, dream collaborations, and running a company as a married couple.
Designed by award-winning milliner, Paul Safford, and made by hand using the highest quality materials, London-based luxury headwear company, The Season Hats, offers casual hats, hairbands, headpieces and – their signature – folding hats for special occasions. They aim to create headwear that is simultaneously luxurious and contemporary, directional and flattering to compliment the modern woman’s wardrobe.
Providing a business mind to match his creative one is Paul’s wife Selina. Having met at Cambridge University over 10 years ago, the couple married in 2013. During their university years, Paul would create small pieces for his beau to wear to balls, training in millinery “as an escape from a career in accountancy.” Unable to fight his creative passion any longer, yet wanting to combine his creativity with his the scientific logic garnered from his Natural Sciences degree, Paul left work to do a short course at the London College of Fashion. “I loved working with the materials, the tradition and innovation of the craft and it all developed from there”, Paul says. “I ended up apprenticing with Rachel Trevor Morgan (milliner to HM The Queen) and taking a Masters in Millinery graduate degree from The Royal College of Art.”
“I really enjoy construction – seeing and feeling how materials can be best used and engineering new techniques. Each collection is an evolution of the last, experimenting with how the techniques can be pushed further, while also developing new approaches.”
Paul’s favourite design so far is the pop-up hats. “Our latest unfolding hats fold flat and unfan with a simple pull of the elastic forming flattering 3D headpieces that look great at all angles” Paul says. “This is a development of our signature unfolding pieces that fold flat for travel and storage and concertina into their 3D forms with simple snap fasteners. Beautiful and practical, we are proud to bring these innovative and flattering pieces to market.”
As a married couple living and working together, we wanted to know how they make running a business together work. “The best thing about being married and working together is that your goals are completely aligned and that you can entirely trust the honest feedback of your partner,” Paul says. “To make it work the best tip we can give is to each take responsibility for different parts of the business, although discuss and agree the final actions for everything together, especially when you are small and starting out, it aligns your ethos to ensure a clear business and creative direction.”
With the combined business and creative skills of the talented couple, the business is showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon. So what does The Season Hats have planned for the future? “Having recently got funding from the British Arts Council as part of the Headonism programme curated by Stephen Jones, we will be showing at London Fashion Week,” Selina says. “We also show in Paris and are developing our Bridal Collections further. Our androgynous leather brimmed trilbies and baseball caps are proving popular as menswear so there are extensions of that to come too.”
With their innovative approach to millinery, The Season Hats is always ahead of the curve for industry trends. So what are the key ones to watch out for? “With the sort of piece that one would wear to a wedding or a racing event, you really want to wear something that is going to look amazing now and still look amazing in a few years’ time” Paul muses. “Trends in millinery are about sticking to flattering, classic proportions. Having said that, hats are getting bigger. Don’t be afraid to try on a larger piece as it will look less large on than it does on a shelf! Hairbands are also having a moment, with The Duchess of Cambridge wearing one on the recent royal trip to Canada.”
Aside from The Season Hats, Paul’s design roles have included working in perfume bottle design for Thierry Mugler in Paris, designing hats for Misa Harada (working on both Men’s and Women’s lines), collaborating with Yiqing Yin (Paris Couture Week) and Steffie Christiaens (Paris Fashion Week). We wanted to know what the couple’s dream fashion collaboration would be in the future. “Emilia Wicksted has the femininity and modernity that we love as a style!” Selina enthuses, “I think her customers are also our customers!”
“Issay Miyake uses modern materials in a modern and wearable way” Paul adds. “The way pieces are constructed seems to stem from the same engineered and architectural approach that I employ.”
“We would love Emma Watson to wear one of our hats,” Paul enthuses, “ she’s intelligent, engaging and opinionated and would look wonderful in our pieces.”
Besides fashion, the couple’s shared passion is theatre. “We love to attend different shows each week,” Paul says. “From ballet to comedy, opera to cabaret. We both love live entertainment – the variety in London is huge. From big west end shows to arthouse theatre at the BAC it is engaging, enthralling and escapist.”
With a growing social following and ever increasing popularity in the luxury market, Sybarites better snap up one of The Season Hats’ beautiful designs to set some trends of their own. Watch this space!