Graham Smith (milliner)

Graham Smith (born 19 January 1938 in Bexley) is a milliner from Kent, England. Beginning his career at a time when hats were an everyday essential for fashionable women, he worked with leading couturiers in Paris and London, later establishing his own brand and also working with mainstream fashion brands such as Kangol.

Graham Smith
Born19 January 1938[1]

Early life and careerEdit

Smith was educated at Dartford Grammar School before studying at Bromley College of Art (1956–57), and the Royal College of Art (1958–59).[1]

He began his career at the couture house of Lanvin in Paris, working with then head designer Antonio Castillo.[2] Returning to London, he joined the London couturier and Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers member Michael of Carlos Place, working at the studio for seven years.[1] By 1965, he was appearing under his own name in the fashion press – the launch collection of couturier Clive Evans (known as Clive) in 1965, was described in The Times as featuring a notable hat. by Graham Smith. This had been customised so that it could be worn with 'Space Age' sunglasses.[3][4]

Eponymous brandEdit

In 1967, Smith established an eponymous fashion label. He soon attracted high-profile clients, including Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand and Joan Collins. His designs were also showcased in the collections of leading British designers, including Jean Muir and Zandra Rhodes.[5][6]

While British millinery was in decline from the 1960s on, Smith (alongside Philip Somerville and Frederick Fox) is credited with keeping the craft alive during the 1970s, thanks in part to the tradition of hat-wearing events such as Royal Ascot and the custom of the British Royal Family.[7]

Kangol and other mainstream brandsEdit

Smith was appointed consultant design director at Kangol in 1981, helping to turn around the company's fortunes during the following decade.[1] Among his most photographed hats of this era was Diana Princess of Wales' military-style design, worn with a Catherine Walker suit, during a visit to Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1987.[8][9] Kangol's profile rose even more with the rise of the sportswear trend and the kangeroo logo (introduced during Smith's tenure), appeared on bucket hats worn by the likes of Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys.[10]

Smith also produced mainstream lines for BHS during the 1990s.[1]


Graham Smith was among the designers featured in a 2009 Victoria and Albert Museum millinery exhibition Hats: An Anthology, curated by Stephen Jones.[11] The hat chosen for the exhibition originally appeared in the 1986 Pirelli Calendar and was donated by Wenda Parkinson.[12]

Smith has helped to train other leading milliners, notably hatmaker to the Queen Rachel Trevor-Morgan.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Flux, Alan J. "Smith, Graham". Fashion Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  2. ^ Polan, Brenda (23 May 1985). "Head Lines". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Study in dress contrasts" (56227). The Times. 23 January 1965.
  4. ^ de Prada, Cristina. "Graham Smith and the Woolmark Company collection". Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  5. ^ Holmes, Rosanna (15 June 2010). "Vintage Hats". Homes & Antiques. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  6. ^ Chico, Beverly (2013). Hats and Headwear Around the World. ABC-CLIO LLC. p. 155. ISBN 9781610690638. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  7. ^ Sterlacci Purvin, Francesca; Arbuckle, Joanne (2008). The A to Z of the Fashion Industry. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780810870468. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Visiting the Royal Military Academy". Xfinity. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  9. ^ "A beret good show: 70 years of Kangol". The Scotsman. 26 November 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  10. ^ "The Exhibition". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  11. ^ "The Pirelli Calendar 1985". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
  12. ^ Pearce, Antonia. "Fit for the Queen". The Luxury Channel. Retrieved 20 September 2014.

External linksEdit