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THEATRICAL MILLINERY
AND
COSTUME PROPS

I have worked professionally as a theatrical milliner/costume prop maker in-house and freelance for the past twenty seven years collaborating with many wonderful, award winning costume designers such as COLIN RICHMOND, MIKE BRITTON, GABRIELLE DALTON, ROB JONES, SIMON HIGLETT, FRANCIS O'CONNOR, PAUL WILLS, PETER MACKINTOSH and many more. Some of the companies I have worked for include ITV, LEEDS PLAYHOUSE, OPERA NORTH, LEEDS CITY VARIETIES, TUTTI FRUTTI, ZUOZ GLOBE ZURICH, BIRMINGHAM REPORTARY THEATRE, MANCHESTER ROYAL EXCHANGE, SHEFFIELD CRUCIBLE, LEICESTER CURVE THEATRE, ENGLISH HERITAGE, NATIONAL CIRCUS FESTIVAL, LEEDS YEAR OF CULTURE 2023 and BALLY WIRE MEDIA and many more.

 

I was an Associate Lecturer teaching BA Electives Millinery at Leeds College of Art for three years. I have also spent some years teaching both millinery and costume special effects at The Northern College of Costume and Hull College.

 

As a theatrical milliner I can be creating anything from period hats to fantasy headdresses. My costume prop work ranges from special effects such as blood and dirt on costumes, dyeing fabrics and shoes through to making monkey wings and everything weird and wonderful in between! Over the years I have gained many skills and can work with many different materials such as leather, thermoplastics, wire, plastazote, buckram, felt, straw, sinamay and crin. In addition I can cut flat patterns, bead, embroider, applique and dye fabrics.

 

Every project starts with a design meeting or emails/phone calls with a designer/costume supervisor to discuss ideas. It is then my job to bring those ideas to life - some projects are more challenging than others but I enjoy the creative process of bringing a drawing to life and of course the end result when it is being worn on stage. Below are just a small selection of my theatrical millinery and costume prop work over the years for theatre and opera.

'I have had the great pleasure of knowing Alison for twenty five years and worked closely with her in professional theatre for fifteen of those. In all that time she has demonstrated her exceptional skills as a craftswoman and milliner with impeccable finish, good taste and creativity and totally reliable, Alison has never missed a deadline. Since expanding into special occasion millinery and headpiece design and production as 'Alison Mary Millinery' she has further shown her exquisite delicacy of touch with wit and charm that clearly gives joy to all her clients.'

STEPHEN SNELL - Former Head of Wardrobe and Costume Designer at Leeds Playhouse

Front view on stage of a man wearing a uniform and beret
Man and lady on stage wearing a feather headpiece

SUEDE BERET -
'OTHELLO'
DESIGNER - Stephen Snell
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Donald Cooper)

FEATHER HEADDRESS - 
'ANNIE'
DESIGNER - Colin Richmond
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

Front view of a lady wearing a yellow coat and yellow hat

1940'S STYLE FELT HAT -

'ANNIE'

DESIGNER - Colin Richmond

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photos by Manuel Harlan)

'Alison is undoubtedly one of our best theatrical milliners. A joy to work with and her end product is always sublime in its finish and detail. She's a true crafts woman and artist and there's no challenge that she doesn't relish and deliver on'

COLIN RICHMOND - Costume and Set Designer

Close up view of a large black and white feather headdress

FEATHER HEADDRESS -

'TURNADOT'

DESIGNER - Joanna Parker

OPERA NORTH (Photo by Tristam Kenton)

Full length view of a witch dressed in black with a black pointy hat

FABRIC COVERED BUCKRAM WITCH HAT -

'WIZARD OF OZ' 

DESIGNER - Simon Higlett

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Richard Davenport)

Side view of a lady wearing a small black headpiece

VELVET COVERED BUCKRAM HEADPIECE -

'THE DUCHESS OF MALFI'

DESIGNER - Leslie Travers

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

View of opera singers on stage wearing large white headdresses

FABRIC AND WIRE NURSE HATS -

'THE MAGIC FLUTE'

DESIGNER - Colin Richmond

OPERA NORTH (Photo by Alastair Muir)

Front view of a russian lace headpiece

FABRIC AND LACE RUSSIAN HEADDRESS -

'THE SNOW MAIDEN' 

OPERA NORTH

Actors on a stage wearing tall cream felt hats

'Alison's work is never less than immaculate. Her attention to detail and exquisite finish ensures that every piece of millinery that she undertakes becomes a veritable work of art. Its always a pleasure to work with her and her creations are always perfectly realised'

STEPHEN RODWELL - Head of Wardrobe at Opera North

FELT HATS -

'THE HANGING MAN' 

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of a lady wearing a black and white hat and dress

1920'S TWO TONE FELT HAT -

'HAYFEVER'

DESIGNER - Mike Britton

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Keith Pattison)

Side view of a lady wearing a black dress and black and white hat

1930'S STYLE TWO TONE STRAW HAT -

'THE THIRTY NINE STEPS'

DESIGNER - Mike Britton

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Close up view of a woman in white wearing a large white, jewelled crown
Four large ivory hats decorated in flowers

VARIOUS FABRIC COVERED HATS -

'MY FAIR LADY'

DESIGNER - Paul Wills

SHEFFIELD CRUCIBLE

 

'I've been lucky enough to collaborate with Alison on a number of productions. A real artist who can take a sketch of an idea and bring it to life with care, details, making it more fabulous than you would imagine! Sensitive and thoughtful, with a huge knowledge base makes her one of our leading milliners'.

PAUL WILLS - Costume and Set Designer

Side view of a peach coloured felt hat

1940'S STYLE FELT PERCHER HAT -

'TRIAL BY JURY'

DESIGNER - Gabrielle Dalton

OPERA NORTH 

FABRIC COVERED LEATHER HIDE CROWN -

'THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Actors from wearing Alice in Wonderland headpieces and costumes

FABRIC COVERED LEATHER HIDE HEADDRESSES AND NET RABBIT EARS - 
'ALICE IN WONDERLAND'
DESIGNER - Stephen Snell and Ruari Murchison
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Close up views of a black felt hat

FELT HAT - 

'STREET SCENE'

DESIGNER - Francis O'Connor

OPERA NORTH (Photo by Clive Barda)


'Alison is a brilliant milliner and collaborator. From fancy to fantasy, demure to delectable she can conjure pretty much anything. It’s always joyous seeing what she creates.'

FRANCIS O'CONNOR - Costume and set designer

 

Two ladies on stage wearing a maids cap and large straw hat

MAID CAP AND STRAW HAT -

'HEDDA GABLER'

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of a lady in black wearing a black hat

FABRIC COVERED 1940'S STYLE HAT -

'TWELFTH NIGHT'

DESIGNER - Colin Richmond

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Side view of a straw hat with flowers on a mannequin head
Two actors on stage wearing felt hats

1930'S STRAW HAT -

'STREET SCENE'

DESIGNER - Francis O'Connor

OPERA NORTH (Photo by Clive Barda)

FEATHER  TRIMMED STRAW HAT -

'THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST'

DESIGNER - Isla Shaw

BIRMINGHAM REP THEATRE

Man and lady wearing a large feather headpiece on stage

FEATHER SHOWGIRL HEADDRESS -

'SUNSHINE BOYS'

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Four different view of a brown suede hat with pointed brim

SUEDE COVERED BUCKRAM SHAPE -

'WIZARD OF OZ'

DESIGNER - Simon Higlett

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of a blue beaded crown

SPRAYED VARAFORM HEADDRESS -

'EDMUND DE BERGERAC'

DESIGNER - Robert Innes Hopkins

BIRMINGHAM REP THEATRE

Front view of a couple on stage wearing a suit and white flower dress

'Alison has made hats for the Birmingham Rep for a number of years. Her work is always of a high quality and delivered within deadline. It's great to know that we can send her a design and that she will always work out the best way to achieve the finished item.'

KAY WILTON - Head of Wardrobe at Birmingham Rep

ORGANZA FLOWERS -

'TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE'

DESIGNER - Mike Britton

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Side view of a felt hat
Side view of a felt hat

'EDNA'S' FELT CLOCHE HAT -

EMMERDALE

ITV

Front view of actors standing on steps all wearing hats
Four ladies on stage wearing bird beaks

VARAFORM CHICKEN BEAKS AND BREAKING DOWN SPECIAL EFFECTS -

'ANIMAL FARM'

DESIGNER - Colin Richmond

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

FELT, STRAW AND FABRIC COVERED HATS -
'THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE'
DESIGNER - Francis O' Connor
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of an ivory and green hat

SILK COVERED BUCKRAM HAT -

'TRIAL BY JURY'

DESIGNER - Gabrielle Dalton

OPERA NORTH

Actor on stage wearing a green grass headpiece and matching costume

'I love working with Alison. She has made everything from countless cowboy hats to beautiful, intricate 1930's tilt hats. All done with great skill and attention to detail'

GABRIELLE DALTON - Costume Designer

VARIOUS HEADDRESSES AND PAINT EFFECTS ON COSTUMES -

'THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Two ladies on stage wearing Tudor headpieces

FABRIC AND BUCKRAM HEADDRESSES -

'AS YOU LIKE IT LIKE'

DESIGNER - Ruari Murchison

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Keith Pattison)

Front view of a large black headpiece with gold tassels and pink fabric pom pom
Front view of two ladies on stage wearing hats

FABRIC AND STRAW HATS -

'THE SECRET GARDEN'

DESIGNER - Ruari Murchison

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Keith Pattison)

Side view of a green feather hat on a mannequin head

VELVET HEADDRESS WITH FABRIC POM POM -

'L'ENFANT'

DESIGNER - Hannah Clarke

OPERA NORTH

A woman on stage wearing an a green army uniform and cap

ARMY CAP

'BLONDE BOMBSHELLS'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

STRAW HAT -

'SHERLOCK HOLMES'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of a purple feather hat

FEATHER AND STRAW HAT -

'TRIAL BY JURY'

DESIGNER - Gabrielle Dalton

OPERA NORTH

Side view of a grey silk hat

SILK COVERED HAT -

'THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST'

DESIGNER - Isla Shaw

BIRMINGHAM REP

A man and woman on stage wearing a black hat

FABRIC COVERED HAT -

'THE THIRTY NINE STEPS'

DESIGNER - Mike Britton

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of an actor on stage wearing a fruit headdress

FRUIT BASKET HEADPIECE
'PRIVATES ON PARADE'
DESIGNER - Mark Bailey
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

'Alison has worked on productions I have designed at the former West Yorkshire Playhouse, from beautiful 1920's hats to organza flowers for a 1950's wedding dress and many things in between. Always precise, meticulous and creative, her talents are only restricted by your own imagination'

MIKE BRITTON - Costume and Set Designer

Front view of a woman wearing a crab costume and headpiece

CRAB HEADDRESS -

'ALICE IN WONDERLAND'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Donald Cooper)

Four bright coloured large flower headpieces

PLASTIZOTE FLOWER HEADDRESSES -

'THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE'

DESIGNER - Rae Smith

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Side view of a red feather hat on a mannequin head

FABRIC COVERED HAT -

'SHERLOCK HOLMES'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Two actors on stage wearing large flower headdresses

FABRIC FLOWER HEADDRESSES -

'THE SNOW QUEEN'

DESIGNER - Hannah Clarke

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of dancers on stage wearing sailor outfits and hats

MEN'S AND WOMEN'S SAILOR HATS -

'ANNIE'

DESIGNER - Colin Richmond

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

Actors on stage wearing fruit headpieces

FABRIC FRUIT HEADDRESSES -

'ANGUS, THONGS AND PERFECT SHOPPING'

DESIGNER - Hannah Clark

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Woman on stage wearing a wooden corset

LEATHER HIDE CORSET -

'THE WOODEN FROCK'

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE (Photo by Steve Tanner)

Two women on stage wearing Alice in wonderland costumes and headpiece

FABRIC COVERED HEADPIECE - 
'ALICE IN WONDERLAND
DESIGNERS - Stephen Snell and Ruari Murchison
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Actors on stage wearing flat caps
Front view of a rust coloured felt hat on a mannequin head

1950'S STYLE FELT HAT - 'TROUBLE IN TAHITI'

DESIGNER - Hannah Clark

OPERA NORTH

Close up view of white reindeer headpieces

REINDEER SUEDE HEADPIECES -

'THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE'

DESIGNER - Stephen Snell

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

FABRIC FLAT CAPS
'THE SECRET GARDEN'
DESIGNER - Ruari Murchison
LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

Front view of a fabric and wire bonnet
IMG_2614.JPEG

SKELETAL WIRE BONNET

'A CHRISTMAS CAROL'

DESIGNER - Hayley Grindle

LEEDS PLAYHOUSE

WORBLA CLOWN NOSES
CARTOON CIRCUS LIVE

'Alison made some wonderful clown noses for us. Great quality and speedy/delivery. We work with a lot of prop and costume designers but Alison's service and product quality is beyond great! We look forward to working with her again for future projects'
ELLIOT ROWELL - Cartoon Circus Live / Lemon Jelly Panto's

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