Bettina Thomas - International Milliner
To call Bettina Thomas a globally-inspired hat-maker of the 21st Century would be no exaggeration. Bettina is a European milliner with many years’ experience who first launched her designs onto the public stage in Rome in 2008, where she was living at the time.
Originally a couture dressmaker from France - and nobody needs an introduction to the innate beauty which runs through French style - Bettina has succeeded in fusing a life of fluctuating cultures and ever-changing landscapes into a seamless vision of designs challenging enough to excite her clients, whilst also leaving them at ease with what they are wearing. “The key is to choose the right hat for the right event,” says Bettina. “And to guide the client to find what is perfect for them, to understand how it will make them feel.” With her passion for cutting, manipulating and sewing fine fabrics into garments of her own invention, her depth of knowledge in the field includes studying traditional Parisian embroidery at world-renowned Maison Lesage, now owned by Chanel. She has also made numerous journeys to London to master haute-couture techniques first used by the British court, and still handed-down today person-to-person in tiny private ateliers.
All her individual creations are infused with the passion she feels for her craft, so it is no surprise Bettina’s bespoke hats have been worn at many major events, including royal weddings, throughout Europe and America, with clients spanning Italy, France, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Monaco, the Netherlands, Turkey and the USA. And while living on three continents and speaking four languages – she is also a trained translator - has made Bettina truly international in her outlook, she has not tired of change and now has a new chapter to add to her story: “I am back living in South Africa after a 22-year absence, this time in Cape Town, one of the most multicultural and artistic cities in the world,” she says. “I couldn’t be more inspired by the range of new ideas and opportunities this opens up for me. I thrive on the excitement of not knowing what my next project will require me to envision, and the fusion of European and African aesthetics is definitely an area I am keen to develop even further.” Bettina cites among her many current influences African birds and felines, as well as the local flora and fauna, the special quality of the sunlight, and of course the beauty and variety that comes with a cross-cultural nation.
“I want to make haute couture fashion accessible wherever possible - including for men with my new men’s range launching in the near future - and I just can’t wait to write this new chapter in Africa,” she says.