As I sit here typing up my June blog post for the ever so wonderful Crystal Parade I find myself reminiscing about a few things.

The day of the official Royal Ascot Style Guide shoot was last year, during December, and it was a bit of a manic few days for me. The hats selected had to be in London, Thursday, during a tight window and one of them had to be sent directly to the Royal Ascot racecourse and dropped off at their PR office.

This hat, dropped off at the offices, would be the one that made it into the guide but was also the one not originally chosen for the shoot by the stylist. I feel for the stylist as they can sometimes contend with up to 100 choices of millinery for the shoot.

So my Thursday went a little like this. The night before I packed up the hats selected and labelled their destinations. Due to the short notice, I wasn’t able to rely on a courier service. Thursday I woke up super early and, with my hats in hand, as well as the hats of a fellow milliner from up north, I boarded the train and the madness began. The delivery window was tight for London but I made it and dropped the hats off. And breathe!

That day I also had another separate call in, which had to be dropped off. Then it was off to Royal Ascot by train to drop off the hat called, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” I managed to find the drop-off point within the racecourse and on my way out took a moment to appreciate the vast expanse and how quiet it was. During that moment, I got excited. Little did I know.

Back home I went to face a busy Thursday night. It was showtime. December is always a busy period with Christmas shows been on every day of the month. Most days in December blur into one and I never know who I am, Chris, Julian, or Madame Mu Mu.

Friday I arose, Royal Ascot Style Guide shoot day, with another busy schedule, trying to complete an order for Fenwick on Bond Street and then off to work at Mu Mu’s. I was tired but it was only going to get worse. That’s what chasing your dreams is really all about.

The pickup time for the hats that were shot Friday, was on Saturday, and the window was 8 am to 10 am. I live an hour out of London by train and from Victoria to the shoot location it was about 25 minutes by tube. This meant, having finished work at 2 am the night before, in bed by 4am. I would have to be up by 7am, on train by 8am, in London by nine, arriving at shoot location to pick up hats with half an hour to spare. I was shattered and cold.

I arrived and now had an extra hatbox to deal with as well as dresses that needed to be dropped off at a pub around the corner from Victoria for designer Claire Mischevani. Check her dresses out, they are beautiful. With now three hat boxes in hand and a clothes carrier I made my way back to Victoria, dropped off dresses, peered into Philip Treacy’s boutique on Elizabeth Street, and made my way to get a giant coffee. To say I was tired was an understatement but I always repeat to myself, “you can sleep when you die.” Morbid but it helps. That Saturday I had another Christmas show.

On the way home I thought about hard work and what it means. Building foundations for your business to be successful. The above is a scratch on the iceberg of what is truly involved. I was super excited when I got the heads up that my hat, “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, had been chosen for the Official Royal Ascot Guide 2020. Two years in a row, I had made it. The styling was beautiful, happy, and the model, so gorgeous. It was going to be a great year 2020.

New Year’s Eve came and went. The news kept talking about this virus that was affecting so many in China. I had an inkling that plans were going to be changing very soon. Low and behold, lockdown. Royal Ascot 2020 cancelled as a public event. Businesses ground to a halt. All businesses were suffering, big and small. What does this mean? My outlook in life is when you are given a hurdle that you can’t necessarily jump, you find a way around it.

For me, as I have mentioned before, time is such a valuable asset. We have been given a hurdle but we have also been given time. Time to reflect and look back at what we have done and my goodness, look at the pace we have been doing it. Running on little sleep to chase something that isn’t guaranteed. Is that what hard work really means? Going forward do we take measures to avoid this rat race we find ourselves in for our own sanity and wellbeing? Reflection is a great way to take stock and it does you a world of good.

So I am going to look back at the past three times I attended Royal Ascot and enjoy the happy moments but also the lessons learned as each year brings a new busy schedule.

The first year I attended Royal Ascot it was wonderful. My partner and I were dressed in our best and off we went with a hat made by me. I wearing a big white hat with sequined eyes embroidered into it and my partner sporting a pop of pink and trimmed with colourful feathers. We met up with fellow milliner friends and discussed trade and then took in the fashion. Top tip; find a seat outside the Royal Enclosure entrance and enjoy the sites. Some choices are bold and beautiful, and some are darn right ugly.

The second year, this time with the gorgeous burlesque starlet, Jeanie Wishes, we found ourselves stuck in traffic just outside the racecourse. Poor Jeanie was sat in the back of our small car, head titled to avoid the feathers of the hat made for her by myself.

Hand-dyed feathers to create an ombre effect and then embellished with SS10 crystals in tonal shades. This style was adapted and became a signature piece of my labels collection, the Jeanie, and later, 2019, worn by HRH Princess Beatrice of York.

Both pieces are embellished with Preciosa Crystals in tonal colours supplied by Crystal Parade.

My partner and I wore hats embellished with a lizard and mine, a beetle. It was a great day.


The third year, my labels busiest year to date, was a really great time. The first time my headwear was in the Official Royal Ascot Style Guide, my hats worn by Autumn Philips on two separate occasions, my first Vogue editorial (all be it blurred, that’s fashion for you), sports and weather presenters appearing in my pieces. All this can be seen on my Instagram @JulianGarnerHeadwear. I guess I was on a high. We laughed uncontrollably and the day flew by.

The gang in florals, pastel shades and vibrant prints even made it into The Sun, Daily Mail, Telegraph, Express and Evening Standard. Jeanie, my partner Rob and myself all wore pieces made by me and crystals from Poppy and her team, Crystal Parade, were used throughout. Jeanie’s headpiece consisted of handmade organdie cotton roses that were hand-dyed and then had SS10 AB crystals and clear crystals amongst the petals. 2019 was certainly fill of sparkle and may it continue.

This year the tone is certainly different. A lot of brands are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either making new collections or not. There is a sense of not wanting to waste time or money and unfortunately thinking, “What is the point?”

The fact of the matter is, you adapt. We learn and continue. Creatives need to create. It doesn’t matter if your collection is big or small. What matters is that you are not filled with creative frustration.

Hard work is rewarding and sometimes we have setbacks, but what is important is that we continue to chase our dreams, fight the good fight and on the way add a whole lot of sparkle.

Write soon…xoxo

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