Hats and racing go together like a horse and carriage, and there’s sure to be a parade of exquisite hats at the July Festival in Newmarket next week. For those inspired by the hats on show, the National Horseracing Museum is excited to announce that it is now home to the only hat block library in the world, due to a new collaboration with Yvette Jelfs, one of the top British hat designers who creates bespoke hats for Royal families and celebrities alike.

Yvette has one of the largest metal and wood hat block collections in the world, with some of them belonging to royal and famous clients, which you can see in the Hats and Horses display in Palace House. Mentored by master hat-makers Fredrick Fox and Graham Smith in the 1980s, Yvette founded her business in Luton, the millinery capital of the UK. She and her daughters now live in the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire area. She designs and creates bespoke and couture hats for private clients as well as producing hats for exclusive boutiques and wholesalers. Present at all the major equestrian events, from Royal Ascot to the Longines Global Champions Showjumping Tour, she has been a BBC fashion correspondent and more recently, an interlocutor between Chinese Cultural ministers and the UK textiles industry. Yvette Jelfs is a recognised British lifestyle brand in China, with over 42 million followers on social media.

The semi-permanent display of Yvette’s work explains, step by step, the heritage craft of hat making, with a selection of beautiful hats and fascinators also on sale, along with some of the hat blocks that are on display.

Yvette will also be running a series of hat and headpiece-making courses. Costing from £80pp, no experience is required to participate, just an enthusiasm for hats. During the courses, Yvette and her team will teach guests to block their own Panama or create their own headpiece with flowers and feathers. There are three dates, each one on a Saturday: 27 July 2024 and 7 December 2024 and 8 February 2025. The course lasts from 11 am to 4 pm, with an option to have time for lunch at the Tack Room.

All hoods (paper Panama or wool felt) and head bands and trimmings are included, as are the use of cottons, needles and other equipment. The July course is ideal for a summer Panama style; the December course for headpieces to wear at Christmas events, perhaps a chic veil of feathers or velvet flowers; while the February course will herald the Cheltenham Festival, with felt fedoras, with a ribbon band and bow or a feathered headpiece.

Officially launching at the Tipster Breakfast in the Rothschild Yard on Thursday 11th July, come and see Yvette and her team as they model a selection of the new season’s hats with outfits styled by Hardly Ever Worn It (HEWI),the biggest sustainable luxury company in the UK.

For further information or to book your class, take a look below:


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