A momentous weekend at Stockport – captured in an entrancing short film.
The Making Headway catwalk show took place May 17th, in the majestic St Mary’s Church – a pivotable building in the centre of historic Stockport. Against a backdrop of 10,000 paper hats – a visual drop for the show created by the local Manchester School of Architecture – the beautifully choreographed catwalk extravaganza showcased our headpieces, and wowed audiences all afternoon. Needless to say without the combined teamwork by the Stockport Curatorial Services none of this would be possible!

To see more of the Making Headway first collection, please click (copy and paste) the link to the film of the event, read the post show press release below or visit the National Hat Museum SK3 0EU, where the pieces are now on show until October 2014, and are also available for purchase!




Hat Works Museum brought hatting home to Stockport with the Making Headway Catwalk Show on Saturday 17th May.

A new collection of 30 couture fashion hats – created by 13 of the UK’s best emerging millinery talents, was showcased at a Paris style fashion show hosted at St. Mary’s Church in Stockport Market Place.

The recently restored Church – was transformed with a jaw-dropping architectural installation created by students from Manchester School of Architecture supported by the Office for Subversive Architecture. From 10,000 paper hats suspended from an enormous fishing net, the students fashioned a dramatic, unique and stunning backdrop for the show.

An audience of 500 people enjoyed a fabulous cutting edge fashion spectacle – the catwalk show could have rivalled the runways of London, Milan and Paris. People were blown away with the quality the designs and the innovative dressing of the church. The project is ‘making headway’ in bringing hatting home and making Stockport a hub for creativity and innovative design.

Eamonn Boylan, Chief Executive of Stockport Council said

“Projects such as Making Headway really showcases the wealth of creative talent in the North West, and what is possible when the heritage of one of Stockport’s oldest industries is combined with an innovative vision for the future. We are fortunate to have been able to collaborate with high quality partners and the result is this stunning catwalk event and a forthcoming exhibition.”

Participating milliner Margaret Woodliff-Wright added:

“’Making Headway’ provided a unique opportunity to combine creative and professional experiences. The programme has been instrumental in creating a melting pot of ideas and opportunities, developing, deepening and enhancing our millinery expertise”.

Laura Sanderson, Senior Lecturer and Head of Year 01 at Manchester School of Architecture, said:

“Architecture is not something which should only be created in the studio; it is a live thing to be celebrated in the city. To have the opportunity to work with such an exciting client and within such a beautiful building is an opportunity for the students involved to create real projects for real people.”

Participating milliners were selected through – European – open competition to take part in a professional development programme resulting in the creation of two new designer collections of hats.

For those not able to catch the catwalk shows, the hats will be shown in Making Headway – The Exhibition opens at Stockport Council’s Hat Works on 24th May. For the first time all the hats on show are for sale providing visitors with a unique opportunity to purchase a handcrafted hat by an emerging millinery talent.

Participating milliners are Beth Simpson of Lady Go Red, Francisco Rico, Jane Bailey, Marina Walger, Victoria Shearing, Marie Thornton, Sue Wood, Margaret Woodliff-Wright, Marie Halewood, Melanie Lewiston, Kate Jones, Sue Carter and Rhian Kempadoo.

Background Information

– In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Stockport was the cradle of the UK’s millinery industry. Hats designed and made here were exported throughout the world. The town’s important role is celebrated at Hat Works, the UK’s only museum of hatting and headwear.

– Hat Works is the only museum in the UK dedicated to millinery and headwear. Established in 2000, the museum is a treasure trove of resources for contemporary makers offering a view of the world of millinery through time. It captures the history and value of the hatting industry to the British economy whilst providing the perfect place for contemporary milliners to showcase their work.

– In recent years, there has been a renaissance in the UK hatting industry with an emphasis on unique and high quality design demonstrated by milliners such as Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. However this is largely centred in London and the south.

– Stockport is one of the 12 towns that have recently been successful in securing Portas Pilot funding to encourage local partnerships and consortiums to come up with innovative ideas about how to transform the local high street into a social place, bustling with people, services and jobs.

– Making Headway, aims to bring together the work of milliners in the early stages of their career. 13 makers have been selected through open competition and given the opportunity to explore Stockport’s museum collections and to use this as inspiration for new pieces.

– The project is part funded by the Arts Council and Portas Pilot, Manchester Airport and Stockport Council. The catwalk show, the exhibition, public workshops and professional development programme aim to bring hatting home to Stockport’s town centre for the 21st century.

John Pasiecznik