Laura Apsit Livens

Photography by Fabio Esposito.

Laura studied BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories at LCF, graduating in 2011. She launched her eponymous millinery label after working for other designers and opened a bricks-and-mortar store for her brand in London's Mayfair in early 2014. Her designs have been worn by royalty and pop stars including Rita Ora, Paloma Faith and Jessie J.

What is your current role? 
In 2012 I started my own luxury hat brand of the same name. I now have my own studio in North Mayfair where I am working as a Hat Designer and collaborating with incredible designers.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?  
I wanted to be in the epicentre of the industry, LCF was the only place I wanted to study. I wanted a Degree, and LCF offered a course where I could specialise in millinery for some of the projects and graduate with a BA degree in Accessory design. I was very lucky to be offered a place on my course internally through LCF as I had just finished my foundation at CSM.
What skills did you learn and are using now?
Research was one of the most important things that I learnt. How to research the inspiration, subject and also the customer.
How would you describe the course?

The course was really eye opening as it really made you think about who you were designing for, something that is so important to me now. The technicians were lifesavers. They were the ones teaching us the craft and helping us with any problems. The current tutor Lindsay has been incredible, she has been so helpful and supportive even though I had graduated before she started.
What did you do for your final project?
I based my final project on Skin. I wanted to fuse together what I had learnt from working with leather with my millinery skills to create a hat collection using unusual materials such as Vellum and veg tan leather.
What have been the biggest challenges, if any, in building your career within the industry? 

So far I have funded my brand myself, but day-to-day the financial challenges are sometimes the hardest. It took me ages to realise that there was no set route and that everyone’s journey is different, so if something isn’t working I try not wasting time trying to force it.
Tell us about an average day at your job?

My days are really busy.
I get into work and normally tidy my table, set up my computer and reply to as many emails as possible. There is a lot of problem solving at the moment, making sure that components are on the way and manufactures are doing the right pieces first. In the afternoon I try to do most of my making, whether its blocking, cutting or sewing, you can guarantee by the end of the day my desk looks like a tornado has hit it.
To be honest as a small brand no day is the same, I could be in a chaotic workshop one day and at the Dorchester for a fitting the next. What I love is no day is ever the same.
How would you define your creative style?
I really enjoy combining classic shapes and creating them in really unusual materials and bright rich colours. For me traditional production techniques are really important, so I get the highest quality product.
What is your top tip for people who want to get into roles like yours? 
Interning. I wish I could have worked for more milliners, as I feel that the more people you work for, the more of an individual style you will develop. And save some money for when you graduate. You will need it! It was a shock to the system when I realised that there weren’t many jobs for milliners specialising in leather.