The newly established John Smedley Craft Prize, launched in partnership with The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (or QEST), seeks to inspire and nurture British craftspeople with exceptional talent. Their aim is to value and understand craftsmanship on a wider scale, and to help continue the legacy of traditional workmanship. Entries, accepted from any discipline, have been carefully whittled down to five by an expert panel of judges from both John Smedley and QEST, but the final vote to select the winner now lies with the public!

Sahar found her love of millinery - the design, creation and sale of hats and headwear - whilst studying for her degree in Costume Design at the Edinburgh College of Art. After graduating, she decided to set up her millinery labels in London; Sahar Millinery and UglyLovely. Inspired by her degree, Sahar has also worked in costume millinery for high-profile productions and individuals such as Downton Abbey, Katy Perry, and Paloma Faith. Sahar's understanding of her craft shines when she speaks about how a when "the client has the right hat, they stand tall and glow with confidence." Whilst her works are often compared to pieces of art, she also understands the need for a hat to made from high-quality materials and constructed with comfort and the wearer in mind; as she notes "there is nothing so inelegant as a lady fiddling with her outfit because it is ill-fitting or uncomfortable."

Examples of Sahar's millinary work on award-winning hit series Downton Abbey

Sahar finds millinery a "wonderful delight of old and new", finding inspiration in traditional methods and practices, as well as coming up with new ideas and experimenting in her own way. A common motif in Sahar's work is inspiration from the natural world, in the form of insects. She mixes the traditional British craft of taxidermy with her millinery, taking butterflies (who all died naturally) and incorporating them into her designs.

An example of one of Sahar's finished hats

Sahar's workshops bring all her millinery experience to her students, teaching them how to make their very own hat. Speaking about her classes to John Smedley, Sahar said "When I teach millinery, my method is to teach the traditional ways first, then allow and encourage experimentation in my students later.' Her Vintage Felt Hat Class - think perchers, cloches or trilby hats - teaches students how to use different blocks, techniques like trimming, and materials to create the vintage-style hat of the maker's dreams. Her other workshop focuses on making Fascinator Hats, complete with birdcage veil and feathers! Using Sinamay, feathers, net veiling, gems and more, students construct their hat from start to finish under Sahar's expert guidance.

A selection of hats made during Sahar's Fascinator Hat Workshop 

If you want to support Sahar's nomination for the John Smedley Craft Award, you can vote for her here!

Book with Sahar on Obby

Want to know more?

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