Friday, 23 January 2015

Sisterhood of the Travelling Hat: Little Miss Bamboo

I don't know if I'm just very impressionable, but I liked the first name suggestion I received: Adelaide. Plus it's a very Australian name, although not my part of it. Thanks to Bonita for that suggestion.

So Adelaide it is.

Adelaide has made her way to Belgium, to visit Emma, of the blog Little Miss Bamboo. Although she is a wintery sort of hat, the downside of visiting in winter is that the days are short and the weather is unhelpful.

Luckily, Emma managed to get some nice indoor shots with Adelaide.

For more photos and Emma's write-up, visit her blog at Little Miss Bamboo. You can also see lots of photos from the cool WWII events that Emma frequently attends. There's a lot of jeeps.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Millinery Movie Moments: Dark Victory

Today's movie is Dark Victory (1939). It centres around Judith Traherne (Bette Davis), her battle with a brain tumour, and her romance with her doctor (George Brent).

A headstrong and stubborn woman, Judith begins the movie well aware that she is struggling with some sort of illness, but refusing to tell her doctor, see a specialist, or change her lifestyle of late nights, partying and cigarettes (for which those who don't know better are blaming her headaches and dizzy spells).

This isn't a movie of jaw-dropping hats. There are only a small number to look at, and most are practical and simple. Like The Bishop's Wife, however, the hats are significant.

Bette Davis wears two styles of hat in this movie: dark tilt hats and lighter pixie hats.

When she first visits Dr Steele, she is wearing a simple but very elegant dark felt tilt hat.

I love the way the very plain hat is set off by the large frothy bow at the back.

After her operation, Judith has a cute little cap made specially to match her new outfit and cover the patch of cut hair.

Before the operation she is upset about having to lose some hair. Afterwards, she just rejoices in the hats that cover it, and in her returned health. And in her fondness for Dr Steele.

When her dark mood descends again, she's back in a tilt hat, this time in opulent fur.

I don't think I've seen anyone look this stylish in a bowler hat.

The straightforward correlation between happiness and hats doesn't quite continue though, because she's back in a white sequined pixie hat while her wild mood continues. She is still wearing it when she returns to the arms of Dr Steele, so perhaps we can say that it still works!

There are some cute hats on the supporting cast and extras too, but they feature quite briefly. I'll leave them to you to enjoy if you ever catch this movie.

A final thought from Humphrey Bogart...

"Take your hat off when I'm talking to a lady."

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Sisterhood of the Hat: Jeni Yesterday

I'm so excited to share the first stop in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Hat. The hat set off just before Christmas on a very long trip to visit Jeni Yesterday, in England.

Get ready to be wowed, people!

That's right, that's our little travelling hat there, looking so glamorous it's almost beyond belief!

Jeni and her partner (and photographer) were inspired by an exhibition of the photography of Horst P. Horst at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Their aim was to create something like the Vogue covers from the 40s and 50s, and I think we can all agree they've done a stunning job.

I don't know what I love most about these photos. The classic vintage style and model poses are just perfect, but I also love the colours - the pops of red among the dark moody shades - and the way the textures have shown up so vividly.

I'm so glad I started this project. Every time the hat reaches a new destination, I'm going to be eagerly awaiting the images.

Thank you Jeni for being a part of the hat's journey!

You can find Jeni on twitter and instagram. I also recommend taking a look around at Hanson Leatherby Photography on facebook or at their website. I really just got lost there in the photos. So good!

Also, I think we need to name the hat. I'm sick of calling her "the hat" and having to decide whether to use "her" or "it". Any ideas?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Wings for Jessica of Chronically Vintage

Today I'm sharing the story of a special hat I made for Jessica at Chronically Vintage. I know many of you follow Jessica's blog, and some of you are new here thanks to her post about this hat, but I do love to tell the stories behind my hats and a bit about their creation, so I hope you'll forgive the repetition.

I found Jessica's wonderful and inspiring blog towards the end of 2013 and we exchanged comments back and forth. She is a hat lover and a dedicated hat wearer, showing how to wear a hat with style and so that it looks like a natural addition to an outfit. I offered to make her a hat, and although there were a number of delays (largely pregnancy-related), I am now able to share these amazing pictures of Jessica in her hat.

I wanted to make Jessica something special. As a collector and connoisseur of vintage hats, I wanted to give her something that would stand out in her collection. I wanted to find out what style she has always longed for, but been unable to find, so that I could help her fill a gap in her wardrobe, and fulfill her millinery dreams. We talked about a couple of different types, but the winged hat won out as the style she was excited to have and I was excited to make. (I've had a weakness for them ever since I watched "The Ghost and Mrs Muir", which was a long time ago!)

Here are some of the sketches I sent Jessica along the way.

Since I'm not buying feathers anymore (although I am still using up the ones I have), we chose to explore other options. As well as suiting my ethical preferences, it became an opportunity to design the wings exactly as I wanted, in the colours we wanted, and also a fun creative adventure and challenge.

These wings are made from 100% merino wool felt. I spent a long time studying pictures of birds wings and diagrams of feather placement on wings, to get as close to a realistic look as I could. The wings are wired, allowing me to shape them as I needed while placing them on the hat. Plus, being felt, I was able to steam the individual feathers as I wanted too while doing the final styling of the trims.

We chose to go for a brown/grey colour to the wings and a soft dusky pink for the hat. The fabric is a pink vintage velvet, gathered in gentle folds around the brim and crown.

A classically flattering tilt hat shape, with a bandeau with elastic loops at the side to allow for a comfortable fit.

This was a long process, but a fun hat to make. I think it is my favourite hat yet, and I'm so pleased to see how elegantly Jessica wears it. There is nothing quite like working together with someone to create something unique that they will love forever.

I strongly ecourage you to go over to Chronically Vintage and see the rest of the photos of Jessica. They are, and she is, truly stunning.

What style of hat do you adore, but never find available to buy?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Vintage Secret Santa (and Santa in general)

The glow of Christmas is lingering in my house, and the piles of lovely presents I received remain under the Christmas tree, reminding me how spoiled I am and of all the exciting things I have to explore and enjoy. I want to share just some of the fun things that came my way this year, for Christmas and my birthday the week before.

Firstly, there was the "Vintage Secret Santa" organised by Jessica of Chronically Vintage. What a fantastic idea and an amazing amount of fun. I'm feeling a little guilty because I'm not sure my present has arrived yet (or at least, she hasn't posted anything about it on instagram). My present arrived from Norway on Christmas Eve, which was an exciting moment, additionally so because I discovered that my gifter was also a participant in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Hat!

My little gift box included an adorable dog brooch, book on Edward Munch, photo frame, bangles, and a Christmas embroidery. I loved that it was not only vintage-themed, but included some specifically Norwegian things to make it feel even more like being a part of some fun global club.

I am eagerly looking forward to next year, if it happens again! I wish there were a few or I could enter multiple times.

For my birthday, I got a new hat block from my lovely husband. It's a cocktail top hat block from Blocks By Design. The brim actually goes up the other way on the hat, it just sits better this way around on a table. I'm looking forward to showing you the results of this!

I seem to have ended up getting a lot of books this year, which is awesome. (Old Hat, New Hat, was actually a present for the little girl, but I'm enjoying it more than her so far.)

My grandmother gave us all a copy of the Gallipoli book because she provided information that is included, mostly quotes from her grandfather's diary (my great-great-grandfather). He was a prolific and entertaining writer, and being a Chaplain and keen amateur historian/archeologist, saw the war experience in an interesting and unusual light at times.

I've been wooed by all the images of Erstwilder brooches on blogs and instagram lately, so when my Dad asked for present suggestions at the last minute, I mentioned them. As it turns out, there is a stockist in the mountains, and he bought me this cute cat! Yay!

My sister included a fat quarter bundle in my "stocking presents". How cute is this lady with her hat-box luggage? I think it would make a sweet lining on a hat.

This is actually another present for my baby daughter, for her to grow into. 3 pairs of vintage gloves in various child sizes.

It's hard to show the detail of the black ones, the first set that will fit, although we will still be waiting a long time for that! It will be worth it!

My Mum has been stalking her local auction house all year for potential presents for us, and consequently got some quirky and fabulous finds!

A large collection of vintage hat pins, in a storage roll she made to hold them. The idea is that I can give the cute ones away when I sell a hat that needs them. So thanks to my Mum, you may get a bonus if you buy a hat from me!

When I opened this next one, I knew there had to be a story behind it.

These three tiny hat on their miniature hat stands, as it turns out, were part of a doll's house haberdasher's shop. She put on a bid that she considered to be very low, but obviously there wasn't much interest, and she got it. She sent me the hats and my sister the counter. Here are the photos of the complete item before she sent it, and the dolls that go with it.

Adorable, right? There is actually a spare hat stand, so I may have to make my own tiny hat to complete the set. What kind should I make?

Edited to add: My sister gave me permission to share this picture, so I can show you a vintage gift I gave, too. This vintage coat and hat, possibly 1940s (but who even cares, look at him!!), and also a yellow corduroy waistcoat underneath. What a darling! "The smartest dressed man I've ever seen," to quote his great-grandmother.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas my lovely blog friends! It has been an amazing and eventful year.

I managed to throw together some Christmas hats. Next year I think a Christmas collection is in order...

I hope you all have a lovely holiday season!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Millinery Movie Moments: The Bishop's Wife

Many classic movies feature phenomenal examples of the milliner's craft, but despite being visual showstoppers, they are not often relevant to the plot. I love it when the hats are central to the action, and even have a deeper meaning.

The Bishop's Wife is my number one pick for classic movie moments that centre around a hat. Early in the movie we first see the incomparable Loretta Young as Mrs Julia Brougham gaze longingly through the store window at the coveted hat. It sits behind a frame, covered in folds of ribbon, a frivolous but beautiful confection.

Julia's other hats in the movie are simple by contrast, although of course she still looks stunning in them. It helps to have her face.

They are both plain felt hats with no trims beyond simple bands. The first is, in my opinion, the nicer of the two, with a cute short brim at the front and turn up at the back.

The other is even plainer, but she still makes it work!

Nevertheless, there is a big contrast between these reserved styles and the glorious bonnet in the millinery shop.

When Julia sees the hat being removed from the window, Dudley (Cary Grant) pushes her inside and convinces the woman trying it on that it doesn't suit her - against the best efforts of the salesperson.

"Not everyone could wear such a daring hat. But of course it was made for madame."

Julia consequently is able to immediately buy the hat for herself, and wear it in a scene that makes us all want to ice skate, no matter how uncoordinated we are in reality.

This hat is a symbol of one of the movie's messages, and the lessons that Julia and the Bishop are reminded of - living life to the fullest and feeling young again. Being a bit more free and enjoying the experiences of life. As the cab driver Sylvester puts it, "You know your destination, but you're in no hurry to get there."

In fact, the hat isn't the only accessory with meaning in this movie. There is the scarf that Matilda gave to the Bishop, that he never wears, so she encourages Dudley to wear it."I'm sure he'll appreciate it once he sees it one me." That line sums up the whole movie!

I also love how both Matilda and Mildred start wearing flowers in their hair once Dudley has arrived on the scene. I only just noticed that in this last viewing.


There are also hats in the background that are worth checking out. The women in the street scene at the start, the lunch crowd at Michel's, and even the formidable Mrs Hamilton have some appealing looks to be inspired by. Not to mention knitted caps on the skaters and beanies and hoods on the children in the snow battle.

Do you have any favourite hats from classic movies? Can you think of any others where the hats play a role in the action?

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season, whatever that means for you. And remember...

The only people who grow old were born old to begin with. You were born young. You'll remain that way.