July 25, 2009

Graham Smith and the Woolmark Company collection

These amazing pictures belong to the Woolmark Company collection at VADS.

My attention was immediately caught by the side tabs on the “helmets” to hold sunglasses in place and avoid having to squeeze the temples of the glasses inside the hat, isn’t it just great?!  The first picture in particular looks very compelling and could fool people as being a modern picture of retro style clothing.

I also find amazing the sculptural quality of the “bowl” hat that defies gravity, sitting on a chignon, and the wonderful quality of the clothes in the way they are cut and assembled.

All three hats were made by legend milliner Graham Smith. You can learn more about him if you follow this link.

The International Wool Secretariat, now The Woolmark Company, was established in 1937 to undertake research and the global promotion of wool. To that end, they built up a large library of promotional photographs and accompanying press releases which they generously donated to the London College of Fashion in the 1980’s when they relocated and were short of space.

Credit for the pictures:  © London College of Fashion/The Woolmark Company

Top:  Coat in white brushed wool. Hat in white kid. Manufacturer: Dumas & Maury, 1965. Designer Clive (Evans).
Helmet: Graham Smith, Sunglasses: Oliver Goldsmith

Middle: Coat in white wool with curving seams. Hat in white straw. 1966.
Fabric Manufacturer: Moreau
Designer: Clive (Evans)
Model: Ann Milling
Hat: Graham Smith

Bottom: Tunic suit in ivory whipcord. 1965.
Designer: Clive (Evans)
Hat: Graham Smith, Sunglasses: Oliver Goldsmith

Be sure to explore the VADS website, it’s full of jewels. A search under the heading “hat” will deliver you hours of fun.

March 1, 2009

DECORATE YOUR HEAD! Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones

With our tickets bought since December, and an invitation to both the Milliners lunch and the Private View of the exhibition (opening party), we decided to go ahead with the trip and not cancel despite of our recent loss.

We had a great time and it was a wonderful privilege to have been invited.

During the Milliners lunch The Hat Magazine took a picture of all the attending milliners, so be on the lookout for that on the next issue. After the lunch we had the opportunity to take a sneak preview at the exhibition and found it even more wonderful than expected.

The exhibition is divided into sections: Inspiration, the Salon and the Client, all around a center section called Creation, that reproduces a millinery workroom (with hat blocks, a conformateur and loads of other stuff, including all the trash -bits of ribbon, straw, thread- that we all tend to accumulate on the floor).

The “private view” party had an attendance of around 800 people and was top notch. The service was spectacular, they kept on refilling our champagne glasses, served oysters, lobster, raw tuna, and many other delicacies that I don’t remember. There were two sweets corners with the most out of this world sweets: macarons, raspberry mini-tartlets, mini brownies, little pots with I don’t know what… well, heavenly. As you an see in the pictures the waiters had a lovely red V&A mini-hat.

Concerning etiquette, the invitation said “decorate your head”. I made a green version of my bird hat for the occasion, and Nina made herself a high comb, reminiscent of the Spanish combs worn with mantillas by knitting raffia and making raffia flowers that she later dyed.

To my surprise NOT everyone was wearing a hat (how can that be?!!!). There were famous people, but I’m not good at that, so I cannot tell you if I saw them… only later I learnt that Manolo Blahnik -hatless- was there, along with some other heavy weights (check the V&A website and check every little bit it: http://www.vam.ac.uk/microsites/hats-anthology/ , there is a video of the opening with interviews).

To see all my pictures follow this link: V&A Hats- An Anthology by Stephen Jones (Set)

Check also these cool pictures from someone else who attended the opening: Hats- An Anthology by Stephen Jones – Opening Party at V&A London (Set)

October 17, 2008

Interesting video about Maison Michel in Paris and other delightful stuff

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 11:58 am

I would like to share with you some wonderful web finds I’ve come across lately.

First of all, not to miss, is this LuxeTV short feature (click here) about the famous Parisian Maison Michel.  The following information about Maison Michel comes from the website “Enterprises du Patrimoine Vivant”, a website that lists artisan enterprises from France:

In the 19th century, women didn’t go out with their heads uncovered. Yet will there be a place for hats in the 21st century? The answer is yes – but in other forms. While broad-brimmed hats may remain reserved for the races and the Grand Prix, weddings and ceremonies, caps, toques, turbans, cloches, berets, baseball caps and eyeshades are all to be seen parading the catwalks. And walking the streets.

Founded in 1936 by Auguste Michel, the House was set to become the appointed purveyor to the great fashion brands with the arrival, in 1968, of two experienced milliners, Pierre and Claudine Debard.

In 1975, Pierre Debard had the idea of having those marvellous straw-sewing machines, the Weissmans, repaired to make a new generation of sewing machines, and offering new designs in stitched straw to the great fashion houses. Pierre Cardin was the first to adopt them. Dior, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent would follow.

Kenzo and many others knew where to turn to ask the impossible : an extremely rare straw, a devilish drape, a mastery of satin, velvet, felt or leather. At Maison Michel, like nowhere else, we know how to finish a taupé or shear a boater for you.

The House has preserved over three thousand forms, sculpted in a soft wood, lime, which we use to produce the most beautiful – and often the most unexpected – hats. Our drawers are overflowing with an impressive stock of antique straws and felts. All the secrets of the trade are concentrated in the hands of a small cluster of specialist, complementary craftsmen: it is the chapelier (‘hatmaker’) who forms the hat, while the modiste (‘milliner’) sews, trims and finishes it. This unique expertise has been preserved by Chanel, since taking over Maison Michel in 1996.

A particular type of clientele appreciates the beautiful workshops of the Rue Sainte-Anne. They always come back, with wishes that require both dexterity and originality : cache-chignons, mink pillbox hats, pearl-beaded boaters, feather-trimmed capelines, felt cloches…

Chanel hat from 1935 made with exotic straw Also on the web site  Enterprises du Patrimoine Vivant there is a (different) short video about Maison Michel. Click here to go there (once there click on the play sign to see it). You can also click on “know-how” to see beautiful pictures of the hat making process, and on “products” to see pictures of finished hats. If you feel curious, browse through the web site in search of other milliners and you will find little jewels like a link to the web site of Chéri Bibi milliners. There is a slide show of superb pictures on the main page, showing milliners at work, as well as details of machinery and materials, and it doesn’t stop there, browse through their web page and find the “guided tour” video (and don’t forget to click to see the other videos, like straw sewing machine, caps making and hat moulding, as well as their links page).

At a time when small specialized ateliers are disappearing, Chanel under the guidance of Karl Lagerfeld, has taken over, to ensure their survival, seven fashion specialized ateliers from Paris, one of them being Maison Michel. Lagerfeld also organized a special show for these artisans called “The Métiers d’Art collection”. The other artisans take over by Chanel are Desrues (costume jeweller and button maker), Lesage (embroiderers), Lemarié (feather artisan), Massaro (boot making), Guillet (flower maker), and Goosens (silversmith).

Not to miss is also this LuxeTV short feature about Belgian milliner Fabienne Delvigne.  She makes hats for Belgian Royalty and talks about the profession and her beginnings.

Another interesting link is this snippet from a french documentary about hat making: click here to get there (they sell the full documentary about apprenticeships of artisan jobs… and I bought it, I will let you know about it when it arrives).

If all this has left you thirsty for more hats, now it’s the time to visit Jody’s wonderful blog about vintage fashion called Couture Allure, featuring now some fun comments and gorgeous hat pictures.

I hope you have also enjoyed the scanned pages from L’Officiel de la mode, showing Chanel hats from 1935.

June 18, 2008

Royal Ascot 2008 this week

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 11:13 pm

Royal Ascot 2008 Poster - Philip Treacy hatLast Tuesday (17th June) Royal Ascot 2008 began and it will be going on until Saturday 21st.

On the left you can see the Royal Ascot 2008 poster. That gorgeous hat was made by Philip Treacy for that campaign and I love the retro look.

I’ve been following the event on the BBC, and it’s been lots of fun to see all the nice hats and dresses.

If you are unable to watch Royal Ascot on TV, you can still enjoy it by googling for pictures and reading the Royal Ascot Media Guide. The best part of the Media guide starts on page 10 with the Royal Enclosure Dress Code.

Please know that in the unlikely event that you were allowed in the Royal Enclosure (you need sponsorship from a member who has attended at least four times) you would have to respect the following dress code:

For Ladies, only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator will be acceptable. Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and /or mini skirts are considered unsuitable. Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and colour.

Gentlemen are required to wear either black or grey morning dress, including a waistcoat, with a top hat.

Isnt’ that just wonderful? I thought that kind of thing didn’t exist any more! It should be made compulsory for everyday life. Men in tails and women with hat. Every day. All the time.

The dress code for General Admission is more relaxed:

Ladies are required to dress in a manner appropriate to a smart occasion. Many wear hats although this is not compulsory. Gentlemen are required to wear a shirt and tie, preferably with a suit or jacket. Sports attire, jeans and shorts are strictly forbidden.

By the way… did you know that on Gold Cup day (19th) you can bet which colour hat The Queen is going to be wearing? Apparently the favorite colours at the moment are yellow, blue, and white… and someone is going to be very rich if the Queen shows up with a leopard skin colour hat (odds of 150 to one)… when you thought you had seen it all!

Apparently (see page 13) there will be a fashion show by Philip Treacy, and I hope I haven’t missed that one. Hopefully it will be tomorrow.

The Royal Ascot Media guide is full of interesting Ascot trivia, so it’s a recommended read!

Finally, rejoice looking at this visual guide from the Ascot website on what is acceptable and what not if you are going to be in the Royal Enclosure.

May 24, 2008

Nina’s Hat for Ship and Shore

Filed under: Hat for ship and shore,Millinery material,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 4:31 pm

Image with her Hat for Ship and Shore Nina with her hat for ship and shore!

She couldn’t resist making one for herself, but…who can blame her?!

Made using vintage materials, she looks very handsome in it!

And she has lent me vintage material so I can make myself one with them:

Vintage millinery material

March 18, 2008

Remember that straw braid hat that I began?… Hats off to Nina!

Filed under: Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 12:03 am

Image of the finished hat by Nina PawlowskyRemember the day I helped Nina with a hat she was making for a theater play? It was for Oscar Wilde’s play “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, that opened on April 19th 2007 at the Catalan National Theater. I wrote about it here.

I did promise to show you a picture of the finished hat (designed and finished by Nina), and here it is.

By the way, Nina Pawlowsky won two awards for her work on this play. One is the “Adria Gual” award for costume design, given by the ADE (Scene Directors Association) during a ceremony in Madrid. The other one is the Butaca award for best wardrobe.

I say she’s the best and she really deserved those awards, and more!

Here are other shots of this hat:

Side viewSide view of the hatInside of hat, notice the horsehair used to fix the hat to the head.

January 17, 2008

Wonderful hat blog DES CHAPEAUX – many wonderful hat images

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 3:10 pm

Modes et Trabaux, magazine I've bought from Ebay FranceI’ve just spent an undisclosed amount of money in buying diverse vintage French fashion magazines from ebay France. Just go there and search for “mode” and then select the option “Jornaux, Revues, Magazines”… the sky is the limit.

Doing some research about the magazine “Le Petit Echo de la Mode”, of which I’ve bought 64 issues dating from 1947 to 1954 I’ve come across the wonderful blog of Pita and Frank called DES CHAPEUX.

It’s the most wonderful thing, packed with quality scans of covers and features in French magazines. WOW!!! What a wonderful source of inspiration, I could spend hours browsing this site.

Time to make some tea, sit comfortably in front the the computer and start enjoying!

December 17, 2007

“Gossip and Whispering” – Hat Museum in Utrecht (Netherlands)

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 12:17 am

Picture of the hat museum in Utrecht, click to enlarge

During our recent visit to the Netherlands we took the opportunity to visit the Hat museum in the city of Utrecht. It has the fun name of Gossip and Whispering.

A small private museum occupying the ground floor of a little attached house it displays not only vintage hats but also contemporary hats from the most noted Dutch designers (picture above).  The vintage hats on show include fur hats and feathered hats (even handbags covered with feathers!), gorgeous hat pins, delicate beaded toques  and much more. Also hatmaking tools like vintage hat blocks and a straw sewing machine. The hat stands (picture below) are a joy to look at.

Gorgeous antique hat stands

Up until the first week of January there is also a special exhibition of 40 contemporary hats by 7 different milliners selected by the wonderful Dutch Milliner Marianne Jongkind. The milliners are Yvonne de Bruijn, Vera Klomp, Mirjam Nuver, Eugenie van Oirschot, Marianne Schouten, Irene Bussemaker and Irene van Vugt. This is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Marianne Jongkind’s atelier”. Some years ago I spent a few days helping out and learning from her and I can tell you she is a very kind person and a great hat maker. This exhibition includes also her own hats.

One of the nice things in the museum are the albums filled with newspaper clippings and pictures of wonderful hats from different milliners.

Picture of one of the albums

Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker (below, in front of her own creations) is the person we have to thank for setting up and maintaining this museum. She has more than 2000 vintage hats in her attic and at the time of our visit she had just received some beautiful Christian Dior hats covered with petals..  Tiny also makes hats and gives classes and workshops in her museum. There is also a “high tea” in offer where you get to drink and eat delicious things and also get the opportunity to hear about hats and to try some on! Perhaps on a future trip I will have the time to join in one of the workshops, who knows! Click here to see all the pictures of our visit to the museum.

Picture of Tiny Meihuizen-Wijker, owner of the museum, in front of the hats she has made herself

October 20, 2007

Philip Somerville hat picture from Cath’s website

Filed under: Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 9:47 pm

A better picture from Cath’s site…
Philip Somerville hatOn the comments of the previous post you might have seen Cath’s comment saying that my hat reminds her of the Philip Somerville hat she has for rental at her shop Pebbles Hat Hire. Indeed it looks a lot like the one I made, but mine is close to the head on the back, and this one is straight on the back (more of a cylinder).

Cath also makes herself gorgeous hats, you can look at them here and drool!

July 13, 2007

Doris loved hats

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events,Other Millinery people — Cristina de Prada @ 11:12 pm


Newspaper cut outs of hats - 1959

A couple of years ago I bought through Ebay a pink ring binder tied with a burgundy bow and filled to the rim with: 

  • Newspaper cut outs of hats, glued and classified by type of hat (Toques, Breton, Fur hats, Cloche, etc.)
  • Printed instructions on how to make hats
  • Personal notes about how to make hats
  • Samples of different kinds of bows
  • Patterns for different sort of hats

As far as I can tell it belonged to a woman called Doris, from Denver (Colorado), who took millinery classes from a lady called June Burton. That must have been in the late fifties or early sixties. What happened after she took the classes we don’t know, I would like to think that she went on to make beautiful hats, and certainly she kept on cutting out pictures and drawings of hats from newspapers and magazines. (more…)

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