The milliner to the stars shares a few of the things she’s mad as a hatter for.

‘I believe hats have the power to transform your style and mood.’ That is the guiding principle which governs everything that Jess Collett, the Notting Hill-based milliner to the great and good, creates. Having first fallen in love with hats at the age of just seven, she had an epiphany: that dressing up and donning a headpiece would give her the confidence to be the person she wanted to be. She hasn’t looked back since.

Having worked as a couture milliner for 25 years, creating hats for the crème de la crème of the fashion world, she now focuses on JCM, her ready-to-wear collection, which delivers the unalloyed joy of an expertly crafted headpiece to a wider audience. She’s collaborated with the likes of Jager, Jigsaw, Emilia Wickstead, Anna Mason and Mimi Holliday, with more thrilling partnerships in the pipeline, and her work has been featured in all the glossy fashion bibles, from Tatler to Vogue to Harpers Bazaar. We love the insouciant cool of her trilbies, which almost command you to dip them below one eye in the manner of Carly Simon.

Here she shares some of favourite things, from her dream holiday to her all-time hero – and remembers the time she got stuck in a laundry cupboard at The Groucho.

Follow Jess on Instagram here.

Favourite place in all the world?

My studio. Because the space simply makes me happy to be able create what’s in my head.

Dream holiday?

A luxury hut on the beach, somewhere sunny – but not too hot – with a warm turquoise sea and beautiful walks and ancient ruins to stumble upon. Oh, and a market to buy local artisanal crafts.

Most coveted item right now (and why)?

A MING ring – the trembling flower ring to be specific. Her pieces are absolutely incredible, and I want one!

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

I have always fantasised about living like the Durrells on Corfu. Wild, free, bohemian and surrounded by nature. So many adventures to be had. In another life…

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

At the moment I have two on the go. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings, which is a real page-turner. And The Little Book of Big Change by Amy Johnson, which is very insightful.

Best film you’ve seen recently?

Once upon a Time in Hollywood. I love Quentin Tarantino movies. They are always slightly off the beaten track, funny and they have great soundtracks too.

Best binged-watched TV show?

Game of Thrones because it was the first boxed-set I binged on and, although the ending was a bit dodge, it was worth it. I was completely lost in that world.

Top podcast of the moment?

Grounded by Louis Theroux. I particularly liked the one with Helena Bonham Carter.

Your hero?

Image: Adam Bielawski

David Bowie. He thought outside the box.

Favourite dish to cook?

Fresh pasta tortellini with parmesan and salad, because it literally takes five minutes and it’s fresh and delicious! Italian is the best.

Favourite café/ restaurant?

Image: Sassy/ Vimeo: The Lion King European Premiere

I like being invited to the Groucho Club as you never quite know who you’re going to meet and what’s going to happen after you’ve eaten. I once met Pharrell Williams, and I once ended up in the laundry cupboard – but not at the same time!

Top five dinner party invitees, dead or alive?

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*christopher*, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Catherine Tait because she is so comical. Mystic Meg; everyone loves to have their fortune told. The Dalai Lama to make everything ok with his words of wisdom. Judi Dench because I would love to hear the stories she has to tell. Mark Lamar and his record collection because I love his tunes.

Favourite building?

Image: Ed Reeve

The V&A Museum because I love what’s inside and am always inspired after a visit.

Favourite Instagrammer...

Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of the Telegraph. I always enjoy reading/ hearing what she has to say on the subject of fashion.

Your screensaver?

My girls, Eva and Scout, and their cherished friends, Noa and Lila.

What would be your epitaph?

‘Do what makes you happy.’

By Nancy Alsop
November 2021

Daisy Knatchbull, Founder Of The Deck
Savannah Miller, Fashion Designer
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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.