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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

An interview with Misa Harada, designer of the hat which inspired our 2023 signature brooch

by Alexa Copson

    Renowned for her hybrid of functionality and ornate elegance, couture milliner Misa Harada’s main goal is to encourage more people to wear hats on any occasion. Her signature whimsical style hats, such as her ‘Love’ hat which provides the inspiration for our Wear A Hat Day 2023 signature brooch, are tweaked with her couture essence and she has caught the attention of artists such as Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston and The Rolling Stones. Misa’s collections are sold in more than 100 retail outlets across 15 countries.

    This Valentine’s Day, we caught up with Misa to find out more about the ‘Love’ hat which inspired this year’s signature brooch, her best millinery moments and how you can find the perfect hat.

    What inspired you to become a milliner? 

    My interest in millinery began as a happy accident. I was studying fashion design at Surrey Institute of Art, and millinery formed part of the course. The tutor was Shirley Hex, a legendary milliner, who also taught at the Royal College of Art (Phillip Tracey trained under her at RCA). Shirley’s larger than life personality, her passion for the art and her innovative and creative approach was so inspirational and I fell totally in love with millinery. After that, my goal was to get to the RCA to pursue millinery under Shirley’s tutelage, which is exactly what I did.

    When have you been most proud to see someone wearing one of your creations?

    One of my proudest moments was watching the Queen wearing a hat I designed for her at the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002. I was born in Japan, but the UK is my adopted home, and I was honoured for my hat to form a tiny part of such a landmark moment in history.

    Which public figure would you most like to design a hat for and why?

    I would love to design a hat for Lizzo, to reflect her strong sense of self and unrelenting positivity. I could imagine a firework display of colour and texture to capture her unique style and energy.

    One of your goals is to encourage people to wear more hats on any occasion. What are your top tips for choosing the perfect hat and styling it?

    The main piece of advice that I would give for choosing the perfect hat, is to just have fun and try on every hat in the shop until you find one that suits your face shape and colouring. There are so many options that it is like finding the perfect pair of jeans – it is only by trying them on that you will find the perfect match for you. My styling tip is to dress down when wearing a more formal structured hat, but when wearing a more casual hat, dress it up with some glamour!

    Which of your designs has had the biggest impact on your life?

    Not long after launching my first collection, one of my hats was featured in ID Magazine.  Janet Jackson’s stylist saw my hat and got in touch and Janet wore the hat in one of her high-profile music videos. I was then commissioned to design a range of hats specifically for Janet to wear on her ‘All for you’ tour. This had a huge impact on my career and opened the door to a number of high profile clients in the pop, rock and roll, TV and film.

    Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?

    The hat that I am most proud of is the ‘Love’ hat, which provides the inspiration for your 2023 signature brooch. It was technically challenging to incorporate the neon lighting and battery pack, but without compromising the flow and line of the hat. I am also proud of the message behind the hat which is one of inclusion, celebrating our differences and loving ourselves as we are. 

    What does it mean to you to support Brain Tumour Research? 

    I am honoured to be chosen to support such an important charity, and to help raise awareness through the joyous, positive and liberating activities organised, such as Wear a Hat Day and the launch of the brooch which I hope will make people smile.

    Why would you urge people to get involved in Wear A Hat Day? 

    To raise awareness and show support for a very worthwhile cause, while also having fun and showing your individualism through my favourite fashion accessory – a hat!

    And finally, what hat will you be wearing on Wear A Hat Day? 

    I will be wearing my current favourite hat which is a piece from my latest collection which will be launched in Paris in March 23. It’s a large lip-shaped headdress in burgundy velour felt clustered with black Swarovski crystals. It’s a real showstopper piece that makes me feel a star!

    You can purchase our Wear A Hat Day 2023 signature brooch inspired by Misa’s ‘Love’ hat via our shop or by calling our team on 01908 867200.

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