Doncaster homecoming for Aerosmith and Stevie Nicks' hatmaker
As a child, Georgie Lambert used to look to the stars and wave at the jets in the sky over Doncaster.
It was the 1960s, and her dad was a squadron leader in the RAF, based at RAF Finningley. It was the height of the cold war, and he was piloting Vulcan bombers.
Half a century on, she is still looking to the stars – but these days she is looking at a different type.
Georgie went into business making hats – and over the years they have been adopted as on-stage headgear by some of the biggest ‘stars’ in the world of rock music. She is the hitmakers’ hatmaker.
Georgie was born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, in 1959 to a forces family. But the family moved to Doncaster in 1962, when her dad was transferred Finningley.
She fondly remembered the airshows at the base, when she would watch her dad take-off in front of thousands of people.
“When the planes flew over, I used to look up and wave, because the chances are it was my dad,” she said.
“I went to school at the airbase school, which is now Hayfield Lane School. It was an ultra modern school which had only recently been built.
“But I got a real culture shock in 1967. My parents split up, and I was moved to Beechfield School.
“If Hayfield was modern, Beechfield was certainly not. I think it was Victorian and had old fashioned desks. I got picked on, because I was called Georgine and had a posh accent.”
She went onto Doncaster Grammar School and then Doncaster Tech.
After leaving school, she become interested in Doncaster’s burgeoning music scene of the 70s and 80s, regarding herself as a goth, frequenting venues such as The Outlook, where the Doncaster interchange is now, and a church on Nether Hall Road, which hosted band nights.
She went on to get a job with South Yorkshire based record label, Native Records, doing PR work for them. Her work also saw her involved with Mute Records, whose bands included stars like Depeche Mode and Erasure.
She met many of the stars.
But she left Doncaster in the late 1980s, marrying a Canadian who was living in Manchester. The couple had a son, Silas, and Georgie combined looking after her baby with starting a small business making and selling top hats, making them at home and selling them at Salford market.
In the 90s, the family moved to Canada.
Georgie continued making hats, and also started making tailcoats. She wanted to make something other people were not making at the time. Also, she had been a big T Rex fan and saw Marc Bolan wearing costumes involving top hats and tails.
“I started doing big trade shows in Toronto,” she said. “I started refining my look, painting designs on the clothes. It was after that rock stars started to pick up on my things. A lot of them used to come through Toronto.
“The first was Steven Tyler, out of Aerosmith. One of my clients had been wearing one of my hats to one of his shows, and she threw it on stage.
“Usually, someone would throw a hat on stage, the singer would put it on for a while, and then throw it back. But this one, he left on his head, and then went on to wear it during his Cocked and Locked tour.
“It was an Alice in Wonderland hat, and I gave her a new one to replace it, as well as a tailcoat. It was great for me.”
She developed a friendship with a psychic called Miki, who knew a lot of rock stars. She took Georgie to meet and greet events, and through her contacts, singers including Stevie Nicks, Cyndi Lauper, Tom Petty and Jon Bon Jovi wore her hats. Miki has around 100 of the hats. Her designs have fetched up to 350 Canadian dollars.
Georgina’s husband died. She remarried, but split up from her second husband.
She went on to return to Doncaster three years ago to be closer to her family in the town.
Silas is now 28 and has three children. He and the children still live in Canada.
Georgie has now set up in the Corn Exchange at Doncaster Market under the name Retro G Couture making and selling her hats and coats there, and also selling them on the internet.
“It’s been great,” she said. “I’ve meant a lot of other artists here and made some great friends.”