Monthly Archives: December 2010

Best hats of 2010

As another year comes to a close, everyone is counting the best (and worst) of 2010 and headgear of course, deserves it’s own list! After all, hats and fascinators have had a moment this past year, that I hope continues evermore.

Sooo, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Millinery Moments of 2010 in a snazzy little slideshow. Included are not only the greatest hats of the year (too many of those to choose from!), but the seminal moments in millinery.

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There are only five because I am in a mad rush to finish my New Year’s Eve millinery creation, more of which you will hear about soon… or next year even!

Happy New Year everybody, thank you for reading and see you again soon for more millinery stories!

xx

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Like Cloche-work, Vol I

Soooo, a few weeks ago I had a lesson from the legend that is Rose Cory. For those that don’t know, Rose is a master milliner who has made hats for everyone, and was appointed as the Queen Mother’s milliner for whom she made hats for 20 years. An inimitable Rose Cory design, with the signature upturned brim and feather alongside is alongside. The Guru once told me the story of the side feather on the Queen Mum’s hats. Apparently, when one of her hats was being finished in Rose’s workshop, someone got overenthusiastic with ironing the brim and burned the side of the hat minutes before it was due to be collected. In a panic, Rose placed a large plume over the burn in hope that the error wouldn’t be visible. Representatives from Clarence House took the hat away, and days later informed Rose that the new style was the Queen Mum’s favourite yet. (Somehow I don’t think my errors in hat-making would end up with a Royal seal of approval, but hey ho.)

Queen Elizabeth I, courtesy of Life

Rather than go the Queen Mum direction with my hat, I chose to slip into my favourite decadee, the 1920s. This was a special time in millinery, perhaps one of the most creative eras for headgear ever. So many styles we reproduce today originate in the 20s, and if you, like me, don’t have the figure for a flapper dress (yes, I have CURVES) the elegant headdress will always save the day.

Hoping to use the lesson to make a hat that I can show off on a regular basis, I opted for the cloche. Rose had this amazing book that I went through, and here are some pics I used as inspiration.

 

1920s cloche, from the book 'Authentic French Fashions of the Twenties', edited by Joanne Olian

Cloche-hatted French ladies on a shoot

It was agreed that as I only had limited time with Rose, it was probably best to make a classic cloche without the upturned brim. We started with choosing some fabric; Rose encourages you to only work with 100% natural materials, and the fabric I chose was this one, a French millinery cotton velvet, in my favourite shade of blue. Rose advised that this fabric was authentic millinery fabric, as you can tell from the very narrow width of the material; apparently, that’s how they produced it way back when (in Paris of course).

French millinery velvet

Fabric chosen, we measured my head (I won’t go into how big it is, sigh) and cut a strip on the bias. The key to this is to get as wide a bias strip as possible (within reason) at the length of the head circumference (so the bias line should be the circumference of your head).

Strip cut, I pinned the strip to the block, turned it insided out and machine sewed the seam as neatly as possible (another first for me, very exciting). Turning the now cylindrical piece of fabric back to right-side out, I placed it on the dolly for blocking.

As with all blocking, I placed the seam so that it was neatly diagonal at the back of the head shape, and placed pins in a cross shape pattern at the top, starting at the back (pic to the right).

Blocking the top of a cloche

The bottom of the crown was then blocked, using the usual – rather painful – method of hand-inserting pins. A useful tip for those who find this a bit difficult is: tread carefully. If you find a lot of pins breaking and consequently stabbing your fingers, mind you don’t bleed on your creation, especially if it’s really special or expensive fabric! I bled on my hat, but thankfully it came off straight away. It didn’t stop me stabbing myself repeatedly after though…

So once the bottom of the hat was blocked, I moved back to the top. The idea was to block the top section so that three quarters of the lower part of the fabric was crease free. After filling in the gaps of the initial pins, I steamed the fabric before blocking the rest, like so:

Blocking the top part of the cloche crown

It is important to then dry the fabric completely – I used a hand dryer for this, and held it under for about 3-4 minutes.

Blocking the cap of the crown

Then it was time to create the cap to cover the crown. Using a square bias piece of fabric, I blocked it as smoothly as possible to the top of the block. It was necessary to use alternate steam and drying (as above) several times before the cap was completely smooth. The cap was then sewn onto the rest of the crown, and the final result of Cloche, Vol I is…

Cloche, Vol I

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Ready-to-hat: more from the shows!

It’s cold here in London town (you might have heard, a new ice age apparently!) and also one of the busiest times of the year, what with all our work deadlines, millinery and non, and the big C fast approaching. So, what is one to do but turn to all the stunning Fashion Week pictures, for both distraction and winter chic inspiration.

This (rather chilly) milliner’s fingers have been avoiding the frost by working on a million projects at once, a few of which you are about to see and other, more exciting ones, in the pipeline. In the meantime, here are a few items that would easily make it to the top of my Christmas wish list (if I wasn’t already working out how to make them myself!)

Carolina Herrera A/W '10, Ready to wear (thank you Style.com)

First up, and in keeping with this seasons red/camel colour trend, here is an elegant piece from Carolina Herrera. With the right outfit, this hat will rock.

Next, unashamed favouritism goes to my design crush, Christian Dior, for the following three stunners. I am a particular fan of the alternative flatcap and love this brown suede baggy version – genius if you have big hair, and the texture and folds make it look divine to wear. The manly flat top hat is fierce.

Christian Dior A/W '10, Ready to Wear (thank you Style.com)

Flowers soften the mean freezing cold, and the following selections are perfect to cheer up a winter outfit if you aren’t a fan of woolly pompom alternatives.

Christian Dior A/W '10, Ready to Wear (thank you Style.com)

Dolce and Gabbana have come up several versions of this glorious blossom hat. Another favourite, Charles Anastase is renowned for his fairytale creations, and this headpiece would look beautiful indoors and out.

Dolce & Gabbana A/W '10, Ready to Wear

 

Charles Anastase A/W '10, Ready to Wear

In honour of the spectacularly cold weather battering dear Blighty this week, here are some delightful options from John Galiano, who really knows how to steal the show from any old ice age…

And just so that we don’t leave this post with the idea of Ugg boots as hats, here are a few actually useful items from Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld and Prada. Loving the beaten fedora and winter headbands. Keep warm peeps! xx

Vivienne Westwood A/W '10, Ready to Wear

Karl Lagerfeld A/W '10, Ready to Wear

Prada A/W '10, Ready to Wear

 

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