When portrait artist Lorna May Wadsworth and esteemed milliner Victoria Grant, purveyor of bold and often whimsical hats, were first introduced two years ago at The Groucho Club by artist Antony Micallef, they quickly became firm friends. Now the pair are staging an exhibition, The Milliner, on February 9-18 at Philip Mould’s Pall Mall gallery, where contemporary art, cutting-edge hats, and 18th-century portrait miniatures coalesce.
East London-based and Yorkshire-born Wadsworth is perhaps best known for her striking portraits of political and establishment figures including the late Baroness Thatcher, as well as her daring, large-scale works, such as her interpretation of The Last Supper that features a black male model, Tafari, as Jesus and other male models as his disciples. Grant, meanwhile, is renowned for her dazzling hats that have adorned the heads of rock and pop stars as well as socialites and fashion designers.
The idea for this collaboration was born after Grant sat for Wadsworth – a portrait that features in the exhibition – posing in a three-piece suit in front of a wall bedecked with her cocktail berets, hats and headpieces. For the show Grant has created a typically heady collection of millinery (£500-£3,000), including top hats and berets ornate with feathers and jewels, inspired by both Wadsworth’s work and the intriguing and beautiful collection of 18th-20th century portrait miniatures from Mould’s gallery. Some particularly standout hats (£5,000 to £17,000) are created using a bespoke silk print featuring Mould’s miniatures. The hats are displayed alongside the portrait miniatures – all surrounded by frames of pearls. Wadsworth, meanwhile, has designed a series of silk art scarves (from £220), one featuring a print of her Grant portrait.
Held just ahead of this year’s London Fashion Week (February 16-20) the exhibition promises to be a seductive melting pot of art and fashion.