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At the ANZAC Day Service at Westminster Abbey last week, the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in an elegant teal headpiece designed by the royal family’s go-to milliner, Rosie Rubin of Rosie Olivia Millinery. Her creation, called the “Varick,” featured pheasant- feathers, which Rubin individually hand-curled, and matched the hat’s felt fabric as well as Kate Middleton’s coat dress from Catherine Walker & Co.
It was a full-circle moment for Rubin, who told a tabloid two years ago that designing for the Duchess would be a dream come true. In an interview with ELLE.com, Rubin quickly dodges questions about her new client, whom she calls a “prime” patron, but says she looked absolutely “elegant” in her design, and loved that her hair was pulled back in a bun, which, “really made the hat stand out more.”
The Liverpool native’s chic headpieces are a favorite among the U.K.’s rich and famous, including Kate Middleton’s younger sister, Pippa Middleton, who’s been donning Rubin’s hats since 2013.
“When someone has a hat on, it’s the first thing you look at,” Rubin tells ELLE.com. “It’s an accessory. But it is kind of a piece of art that so much thought and so much work goes into.”
The Varick is the first hat Rubin has created for Kate, but Rubin has a long-history of working with both Zara Tindall, and Princess Beatrice. She was introduced to the royal family after completing the Prince’s Trust Enterprise business course in 2011, a program started by Prince Charles to offer loans and mentorship to young entrepreneurs. It was at a Prince’s Trust event that Rubin met Princess Beatrice for the first time.
“I introduced myself, and a few emails later, I eventually got a hat on her,” she says. Pippa Middleton, Zara Tindall, and now the Duchess of Cambridge have all followed suit. “I am so honored that they want to wear my creations,” Rubin says. And her clients’ admiration is genuine. Rubin doesn’t have a contract with the royal family, instead they reach out when they have an event on the horizon.
“Some are bespoke, and other hats have been from the collection and they’ve seen it and they ordered it,” she says.
Rubin meets with her clients in one of her show rooms in London or Manchester to go over sartorial concepts. It’s especially important to consider a client’s face shape when designing for them, Rubin says, because, “different shapes do completely different things to people’s faces.”
“People who have round faces don’t necessarily look good in a fedora,” she explains. “If you have a very narrow, long face, a hat that’s going to give you height is just going to elongate that and make you really tall.”
They spend hours trying things on, going over potential trimmings, and re-designing concepts. It generally takes a month from when you order a hat to when you receive it, but with the royal family the timeline really varies.
Rubin feels lucky her work has caught Kate’s eye, but the royal family’s very formal events don’t exactly allow her much room for creativity. “It is great fun creating bespoke hats that are wacky, colorful and stand out from the crowd” she says, adding that she loves designing hats that look likes, “works of art.”
She’s especially keen to work with people in the music industry. Her dream client? Lady Gaga.
Of course, like the Duchess of Cambridge, the A Star Is Born actress would have to go through the proper process. “I would want to know the event and the outfit,” she says. “I would want to know what she wanted out of it.”