Emma Yeo’s haute couture hats carved from wood

British designer Emma Yeo’s distinctive headwear blurs the boundaries of art and fashion.

From an aesthetic and a production point of view, Emma Yeo’s wooden headpieces are a skillful balance between old and new. The British designer’s finely carved hats are reminiscent of ancient Chinese bamboo fans yet their complex forms and abstract shapes make them avant-garde. Regardless of the designs’ style, it is the cut-out patterning that draws the eye in, emphasising the designer’s dexterity as a skilled craftsman.

With qualifications in multimedia textiles and jewellery design, Yeo has explored many artistic avenues including textile installations and paper sculpting, but it is her love for craftsmanship and fashion that has led her to the art of millinery.

Her most recent headwear collection combines the earthy textures of wood and brass with architectural silhouettes crafted by hand as well as laser-cutting technology (a recent addition to Yeo’s design process).

In only her first year of business, Yeo started winning an assortment of accolades including the Ascot “Queen’s Hat Award" and the coveted IT'S NINE YKK award. Her early success caught the attention and praise of fellow designers and publications such as Vogue, which led to comissions from art collectors and celebrities. After her debut appearance at London Fashion Week in 2012, Yeo won the Emerging Designer award at trend forecasting giant WGSN’s Global Fashion Awards.

Today Yeo creates her collections and commissioned-based work from her studio in London, where she is also a member of Headonism – the local initiative that celebrates a new wave of milliner talent.