Alexandra Harper is a milliner based in Angel, Islington. She blends traditional and contemporary materials, making statement headwear for London’s super-duper best dressed.
One of the most stylish Aussies in London, Instagram says it all, Alexandra gives the lowdown on where to go for a totally idilic morning in her neighborhood (she knows good coffee), and gives you the soundtrack to boot.
1. Where do you call home?
Angel, London (on the Regent’s Canal, a wonderfully green and interesting part of Central London)
2. Your ideal Saturday morning
With a toddler in the house, a sleep-in is out of the question, so up early to start a coffee crawl around the neighbourhood – starting at our local: The Coffeeworks Project (best lattes in London), then on for a stroll along the canal to Caravan at King’s Cross for a cortado and epic brunch, ending with a walk to Gail’s or Briki at Exmouth Market for an espresso and pastry.
3. Best place to dine solo
Nobu, Shoreditch. While also great for date-night or Friday night with friends, it’s perfect for dining alone. Either at the sushi bar or in a comfy booth, Nobu Shoreditch is a very comfortable place to quietly relax over some of the best sushi and cocktails in London. (I could eat there EVERY day.)
4. 1 hour to get lost
There are so many options in London! Parks, museums, shops…but to get truly lost, I’d say head to the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve been there so many times, but there’s always something I can’t believe I haven’t noticed before, and the quality and range of the changing exhibits is second to none.
5. A moment when London caught you by surprise
At least once a week I’m struck by the kindness of a total stranger in London. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced, head-down, single-mindedness of Londoners, but very frequently, I am so pleasantly surprised by some random act of kindness like someone holding a door, or going out of their way to return something lost, or feeding a squirrel!
6. Your soundtrack to London
These are probably way too obvious, but for me there are certain artists I will always associate with the absolutely varied London vibe: The Rolling Stones, Adele, Queen, Lily Allen, Mumford and Sons, Paloma Faith, Amy Winehouse, oh and The Spice Girls.
7. One piece of art not to be missed
Oh this is hard, there’s so much to see – in both the major galleries and museums, as well as the multitude of independent galleries and collections across London. I would say you can’t miss the V&A or the National Gallery generally, but if it was just one thing, I’d probably go and see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National, or whatever is currently on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar square or in the Annenburg Courtyard at the Royal Academy!
8. Best place to discover materials for your hats/headpieces
Berwick Street, Soho (and Soho/the West End generally). Some of the best fabric and trimming shops (which also supply the theatre industry) are in this street and area. The Berwick Street Cloth Shop is my favorite for silk.
9. Your most exciting commission
In 2018 I was selected to showcase as part of the Royal Ascot Millinery Collective, in association with Royal Ascot and Fenwick of Bond Street. It was an absolute thrill to be part of this esteemed collection and platform celebrating the very best British-based milliners. My piece was a lilac, sparkly, sculptural headpiece and it was a real pleasure and honor to collaborate on the project.
10. London hotel you recommend to your nearest and dearest
Claridge’s. I was lucky enough to stay earlier this year and the service and quality is thoroughly impeccable – with none of the stuffiness you might expect of such a London institution. And in the perfect location!
11. Favorite place to escape for the weekend
Paris. I’m originally from Australia, and it’s still a novelty to have the whole of Europe at my doorstep. When it’s so easy for me to catch the Eurostar from King’s Cross, it’s very hard to think of a better weekend mini-break.
12. Ideal travel buddy
My husband, Michael. We have travelled together a lot and are both so happy to walk and walk and walk when we’re in a new place. We’re both big fans of art, food and wine, so we rarely disagree when it comes to travel!
13. First thing you do when you get back to London
Have a coffee at The Coffeeworks Project!