Gem Rey

VLMillinery Photoshoot

Earlier in the year I was approached by my good friend Leslie Edwards to see if I was interested in donating a photoshoot to raise funds for the charity “Help 4 Ukraine”. I loved this idea. There was a charity ball on 28th April 2023 at the Richmond Golf Club and the party auctions took place. The event was a great success raising £37,000.00 for the charity. This is how I came to know the beautiful and talented hat milliner who won the photoshoot in the auction. Veronika Lazareko, otherwise known as VLMillinery.

Veronika Lazarenko

Veronika is the creative energy behind the VLMillinery brand.

“Bespoke headpieces for occasions that matter”.


Here is a bit about what and who VLMillinery represents:

London and Hampshire based, Veronika is a contemporary milliner who looks to the future but
respects the past. Veronika uses traditional couture millinery techniques with a combination of modern
methods and materials to make unique and luxurious headpieces. All the designs are
handmade and hand sewn to produce sophisticated couture headpieces.
Her designs are inspired by nature, art and traditional ethnic costumes. She is particularly
passionate about traditional Ukrainian embroidery and art.
With a background in sustainability, she always makes an effort to preserve resources,
reusing and recycling where possible. Veronika likes to find vintage fabrics and trimmings
and incorporate them in her designs.


She has been trained by Katherine Elizabeth and continues to develop her craft by learning
from other leading British and international hat designers. Veronika takes part in international
competitions, her designs shaped by modern trends. 


With her firey red hair and piercing blue eyes, it was a pleasure to photograph this stunning young woman and her exquisite hats. I was interested to learn more about how the VLMillinery journey came about and how she ticks…

What made you want to become a hat milliner?

I have always admired past eras where women wore hats every day for etiquette and fashion,
not just for special occasions. Unfortunately, nowadays there are less and less occasions that
require the wearing of headpieces. Hats have become commodity pieces: worn only to keep
us warm or to hide from the sun.
My love affair with hats started when I decided to buy a small headpiece for my wedding
ceremony. It was a very small and short gathering, therefore I wanted to have something
special but on a budget as a bigger celebration was still to come. After doing my search
online I realised that all the hats that I liked were priced from £400 upwards (I know, I have
an expensive tastes ) and this was definitely over my budget. So, I had a crazy idea to try
and make a headpiece myself. I had no clue what I was doing, where to get the materials
and how to put it together. The only thing I knew: I wanted something small in a 1940s style.
I found a shop in London’s Marylebone that sold hats and trimmings and got all my pieces
for my future headpiece from there, together with nuggets of knowledge and advice. I even
had to ask a lady not to undo the ribbon she folded for me in the shop, because there was
no way I would put it together in the same way again. It was a great success. I managed to
make my headpiece for the ceremony and have it nicely complement both my hairstyle and
wedding dress! I still return to that shop for inspiration and to admire the hats that they sell


After this creative adventure the Universe sent me an advertisement in Facebook about
millinery online academy which is run by a successful London based milliner, Katherine
Elizabeth, and I did not think even for a second before signing up!


How long have you been creating hats for?

….Hmm, good question. Let me think for a second.
It is actually almost 5 years since I started my millinery journey. Wow! Time flies. I studied a
lot over the last 5 years: practising, doing headpieces for myself, taking part in online
millinery challenges, participating in workshops from leading UK and International
After a few disturbing years with the pandemic and war in my country, I have decided to take
a next step and start taking commissions and show my creative creations to the world. 
Do the hats each have a story behind them?
All the headpieces are born as a result of some inspiration or as a work on a topic for a
challenge/competition piece. 
The fascinators (light headpiece attached to a comb, hair clip or hair band) that you
photographed is part of my “Midsummer dream” collection and were inspired by my
favourite colour – purple. Therefore you can see flowers and playful waves on the
The beautiful black veiling piece that you have seen as well, was designed specifically to
match a dress and was created for cellist, which she wore for a wedding that took place in a
prestigious members club in St James’s London.  
When designing a headpiece it is very important to look, not only at the colour, size and
whether it fits the client, but also where she is going to wear it: what is the occasion and the


Is there a particular type of fabric or medium that you like to work with?

There are so many different types of medium which you can play with when it comes to
making a hat. From palm leaves fabric (‘’sinamey’’), straw, felt, to modern polyester and
plastic. Moreover, each year brings new sustainable fabrics, like fish skin leather or
alternative materials – thermoformable felt, film. The list is endless.
At the moment I like to play with ‘’sinamey’’’, as it gives me a huge scope of possibilities
when it comes to designing a hat. It has a square like texture with a lot of gaps which make it
really interesting to work with. I have also developed a new technique of embroidering it,
so that is something I would like to develop further.   
In addition, we are lucky here in the UK to have access to vintage trimmings and fabrics and
that is another aspect that I am passionate about. I love to incorporate vintage trimmings to
my designs. This way I am not only helping the environment by being sustainable, but also
 make my hats truly unique.


What has been your most exciting part of your millinery journey so far?

This year was full of interesting projects and beginnings. 
One of my headpieces was sold by auction at a charity ball to support and provide
ambulances to Ukraine. It was a piece that I specifically designed for the event, in the blue
and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag, with beautiful cut feathers that were resting on a

I also had an amazing opportunity to visit Ascot last summer and to create not one but two
headpieces! In addition to my own, I created a headpiece for a race goer that I am
particularly proud of. The Ascot piece for a beautiful lady was hand manipulated to create a
freeform swirl, which then had lots of pheasant and ostrich feathers come shooting out from
For the last few months I have been working on competition pieces for International
Millinery Competitions, which give me inspiration for new and interesting collections. So if
you interested in seeing the embroidery on the palm leaf, come visit my creative space in a
few months time. Who knows, what else I will come up with!


Anything further that you’d like to mention?

I am now focusing on developing my brand further and incorporating more everyday pieces
into my shop. In keeping with the festive season, I have my Christmas capsule collection
available in a rich vintage velvet fabric. A great option for a gift or a treat.


Thank you Veronika. It has been such a pleasure to photograph you and get to know you.

May you all have a fabulous festive season ahead of you.


Gem Rey x

You can follow Veronika Lazarenko / VLMillinery on Instagram

Website :

For more information on how you can donate to Help 4 Ukraine please check out their website.