Royal Miliner Says ‘Hats-Off’ to Former Students - Ideal Carehomes

Royal Miliner Says ‘Hats-Off’ to Former Students

89-year-old Royal milliner and honourary member of The British Hat Guild, Shirley Hex, felt ‘honoured and proud’ when she visited her former student milliners at the Hats Made Me exhibition in Luton.

Shirley, who lives at Thorn Springs care home, became a junior milliner at the age of 14 in 1947. By 1976, Shirley became the head of the millinery department at couture fashion house, Lachasse, and later moved on to become Chief Milliner at Freddy Fox.

Whilst working with Freddy Fox, Shirley had the honour of designing hats for the royal wedding of His Majesty King Charles and the late Princess Diana. Shirley said,

‘The royal family all loved hats! I enjoyed taking part in Princess Diana’s wedding, they all looked fantastic. My favourite style of hat was the Fedora or large brimmed.’

Shirley retired shortly after the wedding and made the decision to pass on her wisdom as a lecturer at the Royal College of Art, teaching many famous milliners like Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones. Shirley continued to design hats for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during her time as a lecturer.

After hearing of Shirley’s illustrious career at a royal milliner, the staff at Thorn Springs care home asked Shirley if she would like to visit the Hats Made Me exhibition at Stockwood Discovery Centre, where her former students would be displaying their latest designs.

Thrilled to see her former proteges, Shirley spent the day admiring the display of hats from across four centuries, telling the Thorn Springs staff members all about what it takes to be a milliner. Shirley said,

‘I had a fabulous day which I will never forget. I can’t wait to speak with my students about some of their pieces, and I am so proud of everything they have achieved.’

Katie Hughes, the Home Manager at Thorn Springs, added,

‘It’s very important to us that we get to know each of our residents so that we can give them special experiences like this. Shirley showed such passion and confidence whilst touring the exhibition, it was truly incredible to listen to her talk about her career as a royal milliner.

‘You could really see the pride in Shirley’s eyes when she saw her former students’ work, it was such a pleasure to be part of.’

To find out more about Thorn Springs, please call 01582 218560 or email

Opened in October 2022, Thorn Springs is a luxury residential and dementia care home operated by Ideal Carehomes. With 66 en-suite bedrooms and attractive décor, Thorn Springs is proud to offer person-centred care in a dignified manner, promoting independence as far as possible.