GNP Exclusive: At London Fashion Week, I met the Queen

“This afternoon, at London Fashion Week, I met The Queen …” was the caption the star struck hat designer Harvy Santos had on his Facebook page when the Queen of England visited his display showroom at the ongoing London Fashion Week.

Santos an emerging talent in the London fashion scene was one of the designers booths handpicked by British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush for the Queen to visit.

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The 91-year-old monarch admired Santos’ display of hats which included a red leather studded headpiece based on Queen Victoria’s travelling crown. (GNP) had an exclusive chat with Harvy Santos and he shared with us his once in a lifetime experience.

GNP: What was it like meeting the queen in person?

HARVY: It was quite surreal at first but when the conversation get going it was fine.
I just imagined it’s the television talking to me and I answer back! She is very soft spoken, calm and composed and she is genuinely interested.

GNP: What did she tell you when she visited your showroom?

HARVY: After greeting Her Majesty good afternoon I introduced myself saying ‘my name is Harvy, I’m originally from the Philippines’ and she politely interjected ‘oh yes’ in acknowledgement, and told her ‘I used to be a ballet dancer and now I found a new passion of millinery’.

She replied with ‘that must’ve been a great leap!’ And gave a sweet small chuckle! So you see, she’s not as uptight as most people think— she’s got a sense of humour!

GNP: What is she like in person?

HARVY: When she entered she had this calm commanding aura. Quite a quiet joyful presence and her smile could literally light a room! We’ve seen celebs come into a room and immediately get the flash of paparazzi and screaming and shouting but this is the complete opposite. Everyone marveled at her in great big smile and respect and everyone spoke politely and the smiles are just huge!

GNP: What did it feel like as she was approaching your booth?

HARVY: As she approached, I almost fainted!
Her majesty was introduced to me by the British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush and she introduced me as one of the new talents involved in the ‘Headonism’ initiative that promotes new and upcoming milliners and are given mentoring and some financial support during London Fashion Week. If Caroline was not there I would’ve fainted!

GNP: Where you expecting her to visit your showroom?

HARVY: There was no announcement of her visit but we were told to tidy up our stands as we have a VIP coming. No one had a clue. Rumours did spread that it could be the Duchess of Cambridge but she’s already done a fashion event. I was whispered a clue that the ‘VIP’ likes hats very much and I thought oh, who? Lady Gaga??? And nope, it’s a much bigger star!!!

GNP: What has been the reaction on social media to your photo with the queen?

HARVY: I never had so much likes on one photo on Instagram. And the chain of well wishes from Facebook is just overwhelming.
I woke up this morning and the first thing in my head was— did that meeting with the queen really happen?

GNP: Does the Queen or any of her relatives have one of your head pieces?

HARVY: I have no royal clients yet, nor ladies in waiting or any one from the royal household but yeah that’s the dream. Maybe one day…
I did tell the queen that I made a headpiece that is modelled after Queen Victoria’s travelling crown— I hope she was amused!

Santos is a London-based milliner who creates hats and couture headpieces that fuse traditional techniques with new materials and timeless elegance with 21st century fun.

Born in the Philippines, Harvy began his career as a professional ballet dancer in Hong Kong; he then studied millinery at Kensington and Chelsea College and has worked for The Royal Opera House, Noel Stewart, and Stephen Jones. His classical training, both on stage and in the workshop, continues to inform his elegantly energetic work.

Winner of multiple awards for his work, Harvy was named The HAT Magazine’s Hat Designer of the Year in 2013. His hats have appeared in The Telegraph, Brides Magazine, The Financial Times, Vogue Japan, Vogue Turkey, Vogue Netherlands, Harper’s Bazaar China, Arena Homme Plus, Cosmopolitan, W Magazine, Elle and T Magazine.

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