Last Monday was the final of the Hat Designer of the Year, a millinery competition organized by The Hat Magazine, and I was lucky to be one of the 6 finalists with three of my hats being exhibited at the Première Classe fashion trade show in Paris (30th June-3rd July 2012).
I want to give you a full report, but first I must start with a spoiler: I did not win any of the prizes… still, being there at the final, one of the lucky 6 (out of more than 60 initial entries) it was a big satisfaction.
This competition takes place every year, and those milliners who want to participate have to design 6 hats based on the theme that the organizers have set and send the corresponding sketches. Last year the theme was La Dolce Vita, and this year it was, simply, LUCK. A tricky theme! The judge was Marie-Claire Barban of the company Cheri Bibi.
There must be two model hats, to be made to a couture level; two ready-to-wear hats which could be produced in a factory; and two hats made from a flat pattern (cut-and-sewn or knitted).
Of all the entries, the judge (Marie-Claire Barban) selected 14 designers who moved on to the semi finals. These 14 designers where instructed to make specific designs (one of each category) and to send them over to the Hat Magazine. Based on the hats made six finalists where selected to have their work exhibited at Première Classe where the final took place.
I will begin by showing you the three designs out of the six that I did not have to create for the competition. The couture hat was to be a three dimensional horn of plenty in dyed pinokpok abaca (a very fine grade of sinamay) with vintage fruits pouring out of its mouth. The ready-to-wear design was a chenille braid tubular hat, simbolizing a wishing well. The flat pattern hat was a whimsical fortune cookie with an embroidered message saying “YOU’LL WEAR A HAT”.
And next the designs I had to create for the semifinal, and that got me into the final. The couture design is a chignon cover of double starbright braid in black, with broken pieces of plexiglas mirror that spell the words HAT LUCK, bringing 7 years HAT luck to the wearer, of course. The ready to wear design is a melusine fur felt in grey with fur felt swallows on either side. In france, swallows bring abundance and good luck. Finally the dice cap, made in wool with hand sewn dots in leather, refers to the luck needed in games of chance.
Strange enough, the first sketch “7 years of hat luck” was stolen from the exhibition during a lapse in surveilance, I hope whoever has it at least enjoys it and treats it well (I would like to have it back, please!)… but it boggles the mind how people have no problem taking what’s not theirs!
This is it from now. Two more posts coming, one with the actual hats I made, and some construction details, and another one with pictures of the exhibition in Paris and all the participating milliners and their hats.