We interviewed professional Milliner and short course tutor Judy Bentinck about her work in the exhibition, where she finds inspiration and her advice for aspiring creatives.

Judy Bentinck – Hitomi 1. Photo © James Champion

What is your full name and what short course do you teach?

My name is Judy Bentinck, I teach the Millinery Workshop.

How did you come to work in your field/discipline?

I originally trained as a textile designer (printed textile design) at Liverpool College of Art. After college I worked in period costume design and making, both for theatre and film. It was working with pattern-cutting that made me interested in thinking and creating three-dimensionally. Later I trained in the craft of millinery with Rose Cory, who was the Queen Mother’s own milliner. With Rose I learned the secrets of traditional couture millinery, gaining an appreciation for true craftsmanship, well-balanced design and exquisite detailing.

Judy Bentinck – Hitomi. Photo © James Champion

Tell us about your work.

I specialise in bespoke hat commissions for events as diverse as royal garden parties, investitures, race days and weddings. I enjoy producing a wide variety of hat styles, including large brims, cocktail hats and delicate headpieces. My hats are both beautiful and accessible, and with over 18 years’ experience in creating special occasion headwear, I can provide expert advice to complement my client’s chosen outfit for the day.

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?

My current collection is inspired by a recent visit to Japan, in particular textile motifs and repeat floral patterns seen on traditional and contemporary kimonos. Such a rich and exciting visual resource, I expect it will inspire many more collections to come! The visual exploration of gathering textile samples, sketching and collaging is at the core of the hat collection.

I do travel regularly and experiencing new cultures is always a great source of inspiration.

Alexandra Burke wears hat by Judy Bentinck

What are you working on at the moment?

This season I’ve completed several hat commissions for Royal Ascot. One of them was a bold black sequinned fabric and sinamay headpiece for singer/performer Alexandra Burke, who looked stunning as she presented the Trophy during Ladies’ Day for the Norfolk Stakes to jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Wesley Ward.

Tell us about the work you submitted, being featured in the Central Saint Martins Short Courses exhibition.

I chose two contrasting hats in order to showcase the range of classic millinery techniques which will be taught on the millinery workshop here at Central St Martins.

  • An organza parisisal button cocktail hat with three dramatic upright curled Lady Amhurst  feathers and small pheasant feathers.
  • An exuberant emerald green sinamay cocktail hat, decorated with sculptural Calla lilies and peacock feathers.

Judy Bentinck – Fuuna. Photo © James Champion

Which piece of creative work, in any discipline, do you think everyone should see and why?

I think everyone should see J.M.W. Turner’s paintings up close – they can be seen in the collection of Tate Britain in London. The lighting and his vision, his use of colour and paint are incredible. By looking at his work, each individual will experience a distinctive mood and emotion.

What is the best bit of advice you have ever received?

My father told me that when creating a piece of design, if you think a line doesn’t look right, then you should trust that instinct. To this day I still adhere to this.

What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?

Focus on your goals, be persistent and tenacious!

Judy Bentinck – Harumi. Photo © James Champion

Judy Bentinck – Michiyo. Photo © James Champion

Judy Bentinck – Sanae. Photo © James Champion

If you want to keep track of Judy’s work, you can follow her on Twitter (@judybentinck) or visit her website.


Feeling inspired? There are still a few places left to book on Judy’s Millinery Workshop course starting at the end of July. Act fast before it’s too late! View all upcoming short courses on our website.