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 21, 2008

Millinery Design Patents (1) – Multipurpose hats

Filed under: Millinery design patents,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 11:22 pm

Detail of hat design patent 136,706I had tried to find hat design patents before (after all, I did a lot of reaserch for my brooches) but at that time I was not able to find any.

But lo and behold I recently came across one patent (as often is the case, while searching for something else), and from there it was easy to pull the thread and find many more.

We cannot underestimate the importance of design patents. They are very useful as inspiration to make new designs and invaluable as a dating tool for collectors.

No more talk… These are some of the patents that caught my eye!

To begin with, some multi purpose hats…

An apron that doubles as bonnet, useful if you are a multi-tasking super-woman/housewife (read the text and laugh… or weep):

 Bonnet and apron, all in one!Text belonging to the Bonnet Apron patent

 A combined hat and bag design patent dating from 1918 and a combined cape and hood design patent dating from 1883…

Combined hat and bag in oneCombined cape and hood design patent

 And finally (but not to be used on a windy day unless you want to fly like Mary Poppins), the umbrella hat (curiously it was filed January 1950 and granted July 1954, when it usually just takes a few months for a patent to be approved):

Design patent for an umbrella hat.

More to come soon!

May 4, 2008

Mimi for the Virtual Kentucky Derby day

Filed under: daily life,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 4:10 pm

Mimi wearing a Fred Bare hat

Jill, sorry for the delay, but you know how wild these mannequin heads are. Here I was, spending the weekend with visiting family while Mimi took a plane and off she went to the Derby. Just arrived today, she has given me a picture for your Virtual Kentucky Derby day posting!

She is wearing a Fred Bare hat that I bought in Paris in the late eighties (one could call it vintage, but then you would also have to call ME vintage… so let’s leave it at that).

Thank you Jill for your wonderful ideas, I love your virtual hat days!

April 22, 2008

Wonderful fashion and millinery books from the University of Wisconsin

Filed under: Hat book and magazine reviews,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 11:07 pm

Mrs Conde Nast - Image from the book Woman as Decoration, scanned by the University of WisconsinYou’ve got to love the fact that more and more old books that are now in the public domain are being digitized to make them available to a wider audience. Today a new array of books came to my attention thanks to Shay and her blog Little Grey Bungalow.  As you can see on her blog, she has found out a veritable treasure of scanned books (36 in all, related to fashion and millinery) available online from the Department of Human Ecology of the University of Wisconsin.

I cannot beguin to guess which one of the books will tickle your fancy, but I can tell you I went directly for Emily Burbank’s Woman as decoration, from 1920. And I can tell you I was not disappointed, the title gives it away, and the following jewels come from this book:

From the Foreword: “Contemporary woman’s costume is considered, not as fashion, but as decorative line and colour, a distinct contribution to the interior decoration of her own home or other setting”… “A woman owes it to herself, her family and the public in general, to be as decorative in any setting, as her knowledge of the art of dressing admits”.

From the chapter The laws underlying all costuming of woman: “The ideal pose for any hat is a french secret”.

From the chapter Establish habits of carriage which create good line: “Woman to be decorative, should train the carriage of her body from childhood, by wearing appropriate clothing for various daily rôles”.

From the chapter Woman decorative in her motor car: “It is not easy to be decorative in your automobile now that the manufacturers are going in for gay colour schemes both in upholstery and outside painting”.

From the chapter Woman as decoration when skating: “To be decorative when skating, two things are necessary: first, know how to skate…” (don’ say!!)

The conclusion “Remember, that while an inartistic room, confused as to line and colour-scheme can absolutely destroy the effect of a perfect gown, an inartistic though costly gown can likewise be a blot on a perfect room.”

And now on to the remaining 35 books… My next one is Straw Hats, their history and manufacture, the chapter Hand and Machine sewing looks mighty interesting, very little has been written on that subject!

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

September 20, 2007

Health and safety hazard?… but boy the hat is glamourous!

Filed under: daily life,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 4:20 pm

Picture taken from the film Easter ParadeFirst things first, I want to say THANK YOU for your support. This last week my mother has been in the hospital and she will probably go home tomorrow as she is feeling better. As you can imagine she has been my priority and I’ve been spending my days there, and also some nights.

To the left is a TV snapshot from the TV film “Easter Parade” (the musical number of the magazine covers).

While I think the woman looks gorgeous (although my mom thinks it doesn’t look like a hat at all…) I think the hat should be sold with a disclaimer.

Disclaimer: The milliner accepts no liability whatsoever for any personal or material damage that might arise from the use of this hat, including but not limited to traffic accidents, getting run over by a truck, getting married to the wrong guy, spilling coffee over the person standing to the right, not to say neck pain from having to turn to the right everytime someone talks to you from that side.

Let’s keep on smiling!

August 23, 2007

Up for a quickie?… A millinery one that is.

Filed under: Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 10:52 pm

McCalls vintage pattern - click to enlargeThis fun McCall’s pattern is one I treasure. It was a gift from an internet friend. From the times before the world wide web existed, more than a decade ago.

In a Compuserve forum I mentioned I loved hats and was learning to make them. Some nice lady said she had some books and patterns she was not using and she mailed them to me. It was really nice of her, and if she reads this blog I hope she will accept my thanks and get in touch with me.

The vintage pattern is fun, very sixties (perhaps even seventies?), and I love that they call them QUICKIE HATS…

Do you have nice vintage hat patterns?

August 21, 2007

Royal Ascot 2007 CD – review

Filed under: Hat book and magazine reviews,Millinery trivia and events — Cristina de Prada @ 11:51 am

Copyright We’re just back from our holidays in Normandy and we had a great time, although the weather did not smile on us and we had a lot of rain.

I have a lot of things to tell you, and here is a start…

Now that I’m back I’ve had time to look at the Ascot Hat’s CD from the Hat Magazine. I’m very happy I bought it, there’s hundreds of hats photographed in high resolution. It comes in PDF format, each document containing several pages (each page containing one or two pictures). These are the PDF files contained:

Ascot Small hats (68 pages)

Ascot Medium hats (64 pages)

Ascot Large hats (57 pages)

Ascot Outfits (30 pages)

Ascot Accessories (17 pages)

The hats are gorgeous. You can tell that Philip Treacy is one of the favorite hatters, there are a lot of hats made by him. Also I see a lot of huge (and gorgeous) fabric flowers.

Most of the milliners have been identified and you can read their names on the bottom right hand corner.

All I can say is that it’s well worth the investment, and you will have lots of fun looking at it… so, what are you waiting for?!

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