ALL HATS & NO PLAY…

After many months of research and playing around with ideas, I am pleased to say that I finally got my act together to launch my new shop on Etsy, Hat Couture Creations www.hatcouturecreations.com

IMG_1352Here you can find the creations that are a result of my scouring of charity shops for designer millinery that deserves to be upcycled. After going through the process of a complete refurbishment (and in some cases a bit more than minor cosmetic surgery), my ‘enfants de la mode’ are ready to debut once again on the runway as ‘Millinery Reimagined’. Not only do I therefore feel good about rescuing these little gems from the textile recycling bin (whilst making what in some cases is a sizeable donation to charity to cover their purchase) but I also intend to donate 10% of the proceeds from all sales on my site to charities that support women and children at risk.

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The first few projects off the stocks show my passion for all things vintage and glamorous with dramatic downturned brims and tumbling silk roses in a profusion of colours but leaning more towards the neutral palette with the odd splash of voluptuous lipstick red (just to feed the inner siren). The first products are available from stock as custom originals but I am able to recreate some items to order in a range of colours and designs. Custom designed pieces are also in the pipeline with a whole host of weddings and big events to look forward to in 2018.

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The hats I have in stock are available to purchase online from my Etsy shop or you can make an appointment to come and try on a few over a glass of wine at my small showroom in rural Buckinghamshire (just down the road from Bicester Village so why not make a day of it and find the perfect bargain outfit for your big event too!), I am also happy to donate original pieces for auction to charity events aligned with my philanthropic objectives, If you would like to contact me to discuss your next big event or project, please do give me a call on +44 7804424930.

While you’re here why not check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hatcouturecreations where I not only promote this page but also talk about all things hat related:)

Girls on Top

 

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History

Today most people wouldn’t bat an eye at a women wearing pants or a bow tie (in the western world), but it wasn’t always this way. In fact, prior to the late 19th and early 20th century, social customs were very strict regarding women’s clothing, with women wearing dresses, underskirts and painfully tight corsets. Similarly, women’s hats conformed to a stereotype with the styles popular with prominent male members of society being worn only by women considered as daring and outrageous.

In the 1850’s, women’s rights activist, Amelia Bloomer, started to shake things up. She advocated for women to ditch the tight corsets and heavy petticoats worn under their skirts. Initially inspired from Turkish dress, the wide lose fitting pants worn under a knee length skirt, were aptly named the “Bloomer”.  The Bloomer became a symbol of women’s rights in the early 1850s and was worn by famous feminists, like Susan B Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But still with the exception of the famous fashion for turbans (imported from the exotic East) the fashion for men and women’s millinery remained distinctly different.

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The Roaring Twenties…

Then in the 1920’s, there was another big shift in women’s clothing with women entering the workforce during WWI and gaining the right to vote. They had to think more practically about their outfits, and demanded less restrictive, more casual attire. Although women continued to wear skirts, their clothing became more masculine, loser and sporty.

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One of the most influential fashion icons of the 20’s was Coco Chanel. She rebelliously dismissed the feminine styling of her day and embraced androgynous style. She accelerated the already growing movement towards female empowerment and paved the way for menswear-inspired clothing, designing elegant suits, tweed blazers and simple everyday-wear for women. She was best known for wearing nautical stripes, trousers, and chunky knit sweaters. Similarly women advocating suffrage began to also adopt men’s millinery styles.

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The Golden Era…

The 30’s brought menswear-inspired fashion to the forefront, with actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn sporting suits, top hats, trilbies and bow ties in popular movies.

Although Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn rocked trousers before the 30’s, it was really only considered socially acceptable for women to wear pants in specific situations, like sports or during the wars when they took over many of the men’s jobs. With their husbands away at war, women took on what were previously male dominated roles such as farm or factory work. Since traditional women’s attire wasn’t appropriate for the more physically demanding work, they raided their husbands closets and altered them to fit.

In 1939, Vogue illustrated a woman in a pair of pants on the cover of it’s May issue. The editors wrote, “Our new slacks are irreproachably masculine in their tailoring, but women have made them entirely their own by the colors in which they order them, and the accessories they add.” However the article goes on to depict when, where and how these slacks may be worn, stating  ‘One Iron Rule is that they are well-cut and well-creased to appear properly ‘feminine’ and stresses the necessity to avoid the ‘mannish accessories’ that characterised the ‘early experimental days’ of  trouser-wearing. So women could be free to wear whatever they wanted as long as they still looked like a Stepford housewife and looked pretty for their husbands!

Peace Love and Millinery

Although there were instances of women wearing men’s clothes throughout the 20th century, it really wasn’t until the 60’s and 70’s that menswear inspired fashion was no longer considered a rebellious political statement. In the 60’s women made large strides toward equality with the passing of Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which both gave women more rights in the workplace. In 1961 Audrey Hepburn wore black capri’s in the movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, inspiring a new resurgence of women breaking away from traditional feminine clothing.

Yves Saint Laurent took menswear-inspired styling to new heights with his “Smoking” Tuxedo Jacket,  hailed as the alternative to the Little Black Dress. As he said himself, “For women, the tuxedo is an indispensable outfit, which they feel comfortable with, so they can be who they are. This is style, not fashion. Fads come and go, style is forever.” Another influence was credited to the 1977 movie “Annie Hall” starring Diane Keaton, where Diane Keaton’s menswear-clad character donned bowler hats, vests, wide ties and button-up shirts.

Girl Power…

Then the 1980’s was all about the power suit, which included a tailored jacket with large shoulder pads and a knee length skirt. A recent article from Vice magazine about the evolution of the pant suit, stated, “These big shouldered jackets and pants disguised a women’s figure and took the focus off her gender, creating a feeling of authority as the traditional sex roles continued to blur.” UK prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, always wore a suit, saying that “she was in a man’s world, and she had to look the part.”  Celebrities paired this look with a variety of male inspired millinery from the Stetson to the Fedora and top hat.

Fashion Forward

In the last twenty years, “menswear-inspired fashion” has increased in popularity from sculptural shoulders, buttoned vests, plaid patterns, classic fedoras, bowler hats, Stetsons, pork pies, beanies, classic flat caps and trench coats to slouchy boyfriend jeans and suit sets. But, until recently it still had a feminine element with cinched waists, addition of ribbons or lace, and pastel colours. In the last five years this trend for menswear-inspired fashion has continued to grow, but there has also been a growing demand for women’s clothing that is masculine without the feminine touches; so no longer just inspired from menswear, instead it is actual menswear designs fitted to the female body. This style has been given many names, but most commonly referred to as androgynous fashion, tomboy style, or menswear-inspired fashion.  Millinery has followed the same trend with royalty and celebrities taking the dress down approach to everyday headgear.

The New Normal

At Hat Couture Creations we have been working for some time with traditional male shapes given a feminine twist in our creative millinery projects.  Here is a small selection of some of the projects custom made for our clients.  Some of these designs are still available to purchase online at www.hatcouturecreations.com.

Guys Getting it On…

Here at Hat Couture we’ve been receiving lots of great feedback from our customers but it seems that we’ve been neglecting a large portion of our potential market with many new enquiries coming in from guys wanting to find custom millinery with added pizazz.  Our potential customers include those working in the theatre, movies, media and music industries (as well as those who would just like to look like they do). So our next big thing will be the launch of a range of flamboyant custom made Fedora’s, Trilbies, Homburgs and Bowler hats designed to make our male clients also feel exceptional.  For bespoke, head-turning designs call me now and let us create something extraordinary for your next red carpet event.

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The New tUrban Chic…

 

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Harnessing Peacocks by Hat Couture  available online at http://www.hatcouturecreations.com

Turban Chic in a variety of guises has long been a staple on the runways of Europe and the USA but the history of turban fashion goes back further than Sex and the City 2 believe it or not!

History of the Turban…

The historic origin of the turban is uncertain, however based on evidence gathered from archaeological sites, ancient civilisations in India, Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Babylon wore this form of headgear as part of their cultural and ceremonial costume for centuries.

A style of turban called a phakeolis  was part of the uniform used by soldiers of the Byzantine army during the period 400-600AD and continued to be worn by the Byzantine people from the 10th Century in Cappadocia (modern Turkey) and their Greek speaking descendants right up to the early 20th century.  The Islamic prophet, Muhammad (570-632AD) is also believed to have worn a traditional white turban to symbolise his purity. Shiah clerics today wear white turbans unless they are descendants of the prophet Muhammad or Sayyid, in which case they wear black. In modern context, Sikhs wear turbans in a variety of colours as a symbol of their religious belief, status and to bind their hair (which is never cut) as a testament to their faith. Many Muslim men also continue to choose a green  turban because it represents paradise, whilst in parts of North Africa blue turbans are popular with the shade often signifying the tribe of the wearer.  In many traditional African ceremonies such as weddings, women still wear a form of colourful patterned turbans to acknowledge their tribal origins.

The Origins of the Turban Fashion Trend…

The history of turban fashion for women began in the late 18th, early 19th century, when trade with India saw the dawn of the trend for turbans as a Western fashion accessory for society ladies. While earlier portraits show examples of the turban in women’s dress – notably Vermeer’s 1665 portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring – the draped turban is first recorded as a widespread fashion in Britain in the late 18th century, rising to even greater popularity during the Regency era; this was a fashion said to be inspired by increased trade with India for the import of cottons. The fashion may also have been partly inspired by growing interest in, and knowledge of, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. The writings of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu on Turkey are also said to have been an influence. There are several portraits of her in turban style headgear and the turban was also sometimes known as the turk or chiffonet.

The style of turban was initially simple, in keeping with the drape of gowns of the time, but as its popularity developed it tended to follow the fashion in hair and became progressively larger as hairstyles became more elaborate. Turbans might be lavishly decorated with plumes for balls and functions, but also for daywear – as satirised in a 1796 James Gillray cartoon, High Change in Bond Street. The fashion remained during the early decades of the 19th century, with examples of Paris and London fashions from the 1830s showing ornate turban headdresses topped with tall plumes.

Turn of the Century Chic…

We have Paul Poiret to thank for the revival of turban fashion in the early 20th century. By 1910 the turban had made a complete revival and was a staple in evening wear and the ultimate high society fashion statement.

As any fashion trend, the turban has cycled its way through our modern era, making brief cameo’s of fabulousness. The history of turban fashion is very consistent with glamour. Whether it is a classic 1946 film noir, a 1970’s British Vogue feature, a 1980’s tribute to Joan Crawford played by Faye Dunaway, or Sarah Jessica Parker herself reviving the turban a la Carrie Bradshaw for the 21st century… what goes around comes around. And the truth is our Western civilization will always be swept away by the exotic elegance of the East with the turban.

 

Hat Couture Does tUrban Chic…

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Inspired by many appearances on the catwalk this year in shows from Gucci to Marc Jacobs, Hat Couture has worked on a number of contemporary takes on tUrban Chic this year.  We started with a special commission for the wedding of one of my good friend’s sons during early Summer 2018.  This was Midnight at the Casbah, a silk abaca wrapped, raw silk creation that featured a vintage Dolce and Gabbana pendant brooch to perfectly match the client’s outfit.  Pure Hollywood glamour!

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For the same event we also developed a more youthful look as modelled by my daughter Tish.  This was an Alice band based fascinator wrapped in a fabulous shade of Royal Blue with peachy pink hand made silk blossoms to compliment her Ted Baker ‘cold shoulder’ Harmony ensemble.

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Next out of the workshop was Rock the Casbah which pays homage to the forties with its sinamay teardrop shaped percher covered in raw black silk again swathed in swirls of silk abaca. This piece is finished with a mount of oily green and black gloss plumes a vintage Art Deco pendant brooch in crystal and jet.

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Last but by no means least we have a duet of two colourways for a similar design, Harnessing Peacocks (as shown as the featured photo above) and The Queen of Sheba.  Both of these pieces are constructed with a hand blocked buntal asymetric fez base covered and fully lined in raw silk.  The headpiece is then enrobed in swathes of silk abaca and finished with crystal antique pendant brooches.

tUrban Chic DIY…

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Be sure to do your Fashion 101 homework by incorporating a turban into your own ensemble as the summer sun fades! Here is a great tutorial on how to make a turban from a fabulous head scarf (with thanks to Jessica on Pintrest).  We look forward to seeing pictures of your own interpretations as you too Rock the Casbah,

Rocking Post Modern Baroque…

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Here Comes the Sun

The rise of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and his court at Versailles, signalled the dawn of the Classical Baroque era in art, architecture, music, and fashion.  It was defined by natural, curving silhouettes, flowing lines, gold filigree, rich colours, and overall voluptuousness.  Clothing contained an abundance of lace, pearls, ribbons, and gold embroidery, and was refreshingly free from the excessive decoration of the Renaissance.  Fashion changed rapidly:  the growing middle class would copy the styles of the nobles, who would in turn create new fashions to stay more “refined” than the middle class.  Unlike earlier periods, where bodices, sleeves, skirts, jackets, and breeches were made to mix and match, clothing during this period was made as separate and entire matching outfits, often made of the same fabric.  This was referred to as en suite, and was the predecessor for our modern-day “suit.”  Seasonality also began to be widely used, a grateful relief from yearlong, heavy gowns and doublets as worn during the Renaissance.  The most important development of this period was the rise of fashion designers after Louis XIV certified the establishment of a dress-makers guild and a milliners guild.  These professions contained both men and women.  The most popular designers were well-pursued by the nobility and even the middle class.

The Duchess of Style

The baroque era fashion trend for outrageous wigs and hats featured in the award winning costume drama ‘The Duchess’ starring the sublime Keira Knightly.  She was quoted as saying that wearing the elaborate wigs for several hours during filming put a great strain on her famously slender neck, but she loved the drama of the millinery and costumes designed for the film by Michael O’Connor (winner of both BAFTA and Academy Awards for costume design in 2008 for ‘The Duchess’).

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Rock Baroque

The new collection from Hat Couture Creations is inspired by the Georgian splendour of neo-baroque millinery.  Featuring dramatic sweeping asymetric profiles, low crowns, plumes and hand made silk blossoms under and over the brim, each one off design is a statement piece guaranteed to turn heads and make you feel like a Duchess.  The first design out of the starting gate is ‘Giverny Gardens’ a beautiful piece exclusively hand crafted by Hat Couture Creations. Featuring our signature large sweeping brim and low domed crown in premium ivory sinamay with matching sinamay swirls and arrow head plumes, this elegant hat is finished with blush silk hydrangea blossoms and roses.  Giverny Gardens is available exclusively for a limited time only from www.hatcouturecreations.com.

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Next in the Rock Baroque collection  is ‘Vivienne at Versailles’ another fabulous one of a kind piece  by Hat Couture Creations. Also featuring our signature large sweeping brim and low domed crown in premium light blue sinamay with matching sinamay swirls and arrow head plumes, this elegant hat is finished with vivid blue silk hydrangea blossoms and ivory roses.  Vivienne at Versailles is available exclusively for a limited time only from www.hatcouturecreations.com.

 

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‘Prudence at the Palace’ is the third hat in the Rock Baroque collection by Hat Couture Creations. This design also features a low crown and large asymetric brim in dark grey sinamay with matching sinamay swirls and arrow head plumes. This theatrical hat is finished with soft pink silk hydrangea blossoms and roses.  Prudence at the Palace is available exclusively for a limited time only from www.hatcouturecreations.com.

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‘Blushing Peonies for Penelope’ is the final piece to complete the Rock Baroque collection by Hat Couture Creations. Featuring our signature large sweeping brim and low domed crown in premium light grey sinamay with matching sinamay swirls and arrow head plumes, this elegant hat is finished with hand made silk peony blossoms in tones of the softest pinks and blush.  Blushing Peonies for Penelope is available exclusively for a limited time only from www.hatcouturecreations.com.

For these and more exclusive designs inspired by Baroque splendour please visit my Etsy store at http://www.hatcouturecreations.com or contact Denise Marsh at hatcouturemillinery@gmail.com.

 

The Struggle is Real…

The wedding season has well and truly started with four hats finished and despatched this week and a full order book for the next month…

With Ascot now behind us and holidays to plan, I had hoped to look forward to a couple of weeks of downtime to develop future projects and create new stock. But weddings in the family plus a lively response from social media marketing has meant a renewed flurry of activity resulting in me beavering away in my studio for 10 hours a day despite 30 degree temperatures outside.

The first to go was ‘Diana Drinks Rosé a fabulous frothy number in pale dusky Pink sinamay festooned with plumes and hand made silk roses. Her new home is with Jessie in Chobham, Surrey (delivered just in time for Ascot). Next to go we’re two of my personal favorites ‘A Passion for Peonies’ and ‘An Invitation to the Abbey’ both of which went to Madeleine in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Finally today ‘Afternoon Tea with Granny’ was despatched to Davina in Salisbury, Wiltshire in time for her daughter’s wedding in August.

Now at last time to tidy the studio and start work on a couple of commissions for a friend’s wedding. First off the stocks will be an exotic turban style creation that is shown here as a work in progress. Thinking about calling this one ‘Midnight in the Casbah’.

Also inspired by a trunk overflowing with peacock feathers collected on my travels, this little number is awaiting completion. The popular vote for naming this one via popular response on Facebook and Instagram went to ‘Another Day in Paradise’.

So whilst I surface to breathe for a moment… sending you all joy and laughter from my little piece of paradise ‘Hat Couture’ in the unusually tropical Buckinghamshire countryside!

Hat Couture Launches New Upcycled Millinery Concept

Hat Couture ‘reimagines’ charity shop and thrift store discoveries as designer millinery for fashion mavens, weddings and special occasions to acclaim from world’s top designers.

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Hat Couture announced today the launch of its first collection designed by Milliner Denise Marsh. The Hollywood Legends collection is available for immediate shipping to International and local clients, who can enjoy the feel-good factor that comes with wearing an exclusive upcycled, one off creation.

“Hat Couture is a new concept in high fashion millinery, I upcycle designer hats and create original objects d’art for discerning clients and fashion mavens,” said Denise Marsh, Milliner at Hat Couture, “Each rescue project is carefully taken apart by hand and remade using only the finest silk, sinamay, vintage lace, plumes, real pearls, flowers and luxury trimmings”.

Positive Green Impact

Most hats donated to charity shops end up in landfill adding to the millions of tons of discarded textiles that currently plague our planet.  Hat Couture scours local thrift stores to rescue designer millinery and fabric in good condition, making a sizeable donation to charity and providing items too good for landfill with a new lease of life. After removing all trimmings and cleaning, the hat base is reshaped and put into stock to await the creation of a new design to match that special outfit or become a statement piece for an international fashionista. The majority of the fabrics and trimmings used are also upcycled from vintage fabric collections found via the internet or the designer’s own inherited treasure trove of laces, silks, buttons, flowers and beads. When dispatched to a new home, each design is carefully wrapped in tissue paper (recycled) before being placed into a signature black and white candy stripe box (made from recycled paper), tied with a sumptuous satin bow (recycled from heritage stock) to be whisked away to destinations in the UK, Far East, Middle East and the USA.

Creating Lasting Memories

Hat Couture has already found new homes for a number of these exquisite works of art. Karen from Kent recently purchased ‘Vintage Rose Garden’ and was delighted when her one of a kind creation arrived, “Hat received – absolutely love it – gorgeous! Many thanks”.

“Sorry for delay getting back to you, parcel delivered just as I was leaving to look after my mum -have just opened and it is stunning, beautifully made and fits so easily. I am very happy with it, thank you.” said Cheryl from Wales who purchased ‘Rambling Rosie’ for her daughter’s wedding, “My wedding outfit is by Out of Exile and so compliments perfectly.”

Already Gaining a Great Reputation

With more than 2,000 followers on social media already including designer brands like Philip Treacy, Tracy Chaplin and Vogue Bridal plus international support from ethical groups like Upcycled Cloth Collective enthusiasm for this new upcycled millinery concept continues to grow.

Founded in 2018, Hat Couture is a small business with big ideas. Alongside its collection of upcycled and designer Millinery the company is set to launch a range of crystal jewellery and vintage silk scarves. In response to requests from fans, Milliner Denise Marsh is also looking at ways to offer training courses in hat making and silk flower techniques for those interested in honing their skills and joining the growing band of enthusiasts for textile upcycling.

THE FIGURES

  • In 2016 1,130,000 tons of new clothing was purchased in the UK – an increase of 200,000 tons since 2012.
  • Fashion in the UK lasts an average of 3.3 years before a garment is discarded.
  • Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.
  • Providing one ton of clothing for direct re-use by giving it to a charity shop or selling it online can result in a net greenhouse gas saving of 11 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

For more information, press only:

Denise Marsh

Tel: 07804434930

Email: hatcouturemillinery@gmail.com

Please find us on:

Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HatCoutureCreations

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hatcouturecreations

WordPress: https://hatcouture.blog/

Instagram: @hatcouturecreations

Kiss Me Marilyn…

 

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Marilyn wearing ‘Kiss Me Marilyn’ by Hat Couture available at https://etsy.me/2JjfMkK

Next in my Hollywood Legends Series is the matchless Marilyn Monroe wearing ‘Kiss Me Marilyn’ by Hat Couture. Handmade in premium grey sinamay, this design features a sweeping brim adorned with opulent scarlet silk peonies.  This lavish creation reflects Marilyn’s lipstick red and cool silver blonde bombshell image whilst hiding beneath the brim wisdom that only those in the inner circle ever got to appreciate.

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring” – Marilyn Monroe

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Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing comic blonde bombshell  characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and was emblematic of the era’s attitudes towards sexuality. It was her signature lipstick print on the mirror kiss that inspired the logo for my designer millinery creations Hat Couture.

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Marilyn had a brief but glittering Hollywood career that spawned an enduring legacy in the worlds of art, media and fashion.  Everyone from Andy Warhol to Lichtenstein and Dali clamoured to portray the ultimate muse of the era in dazzling pop-art technicolour. But it was in her influence on the multi-million dollar contemporary fashion industry that we can see the birth of one of Hollywood’s biggest global icons – a legacy that continues to live on.

“Hollywood’s a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents” – Marilyn Monroe.

 

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‘Rambling Rosie’ is another creation by Hat Couture inspired by the inimitable Marilyn.  This unique one off piece has recently found a new home via the Hat Couture Shop on eBay.

 

Hollywood Legends Play Dress-up…

Apart from designing a range of couture millinery creations, I also enjoy playing with another of my talents to imagine how Hollywood’s brightest stars might look wearing some of my exclusive hand-made pieces.  This not only provides a bit of fun for my lovely patrons and fans on Instagram and Facebook, it also shows the hats ‘in the wild’ giving a flavor of how they might perform in their natural habitat.  But can you identify all stars in my Hollywood Legends series…

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A Passion for Peonies by Hat Couture Creations

The first is of course the quintessentially elegant Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993). Famous for her starring roles in classics like ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.  Here she is shown wearing one of my first original designs ‘A Passion for Peonies’.  Featuring huge, lipstick red hand -made silk peonies on a shantung silk base, I felt that this is exactly the kind of chapeau that a contemporary ‘Holly Golightly’ would have worn to admire the jewels in Tiffany’s window. Her radiant beauty and sophisticated style have made her an enduring fashion icon and one of my all time favorites.  This timeless fashionista was however more than just a pretty face. An avid supporter of charitable causes, she believed that true elegance and style were a reflection of the inner person.

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”— Audrey Hepburn

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Following her success in My Fair Lady the world of fashion had found a new heroine and every designer had found their muse.  Miss Hepburn adopted the hat as her signature accessory and from then on she was seldom seen without a statement piece from one of the world’s top milliners.  Another of my designs ‘Champagne and Roses’ is also inspired by the look Audrey created in this and other stunning fashion shoots.

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Champagne and Roses by Hat Couture Creations

Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was aristocratic and cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey’s father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and was involved in several businesses. During World War II she changed her name to Edda Van Heemstra, as she lived in occupied Holland and didn’t want to be suspected as British. However, after the war, she moved to London and worked as a chorus girl, so she shortened her real name to Audrey Hepburn.

Although her professional career continued to be incandescent after My Fair Lady earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Audrey continued to struggle in her personal life with a series of failed marriages, miscarriages and finally ill health that lead to her death in Switzerland at the age of 63. Whether it was her struggles to survive as a child in Nazi occupied Europe or her later quest for motherhood, she remained a staunch supporter and Ambassador for UNICEF and other international children’s charities throughout her life.

“How shall I sum up my life? I think I’ve been particularly lucky. Does that have something to do with faith also? I know my mother always used to say, ‘Good things aren’t supposed to just fall in your lap. God is very generous, but he expects you to do your part first.’ So you have to make that effort. But at the end of a bad time or a huge effort, I’ve always had – how shall I say it? – the prize at the end. My whole life shows that.” — Audrey Hepburn

 

 

 

 

Millinery in the Movies

On hearing that my latest venture included a foray into millinery, my lovely friend Galen Yeo (CEO of The Moving Visuals Company) sent me a link to one of my favourite scenes in any movie, Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle at the Ascot Races in My Fair Lady            (https://youtu.be/8uozGujfdS0). In this clip she is of course wearing one of the most splendid hats ever seen on the silver screen. With all Miss Hepburns dazzling costumes and hats for the movie created by the inimicable Cecil Beaton, it is small wonder that this film continues to be mentioned at the top of any hataholics list as an all time favourite.

And of course Audrey herself was the perfect muse for all milliners, with her natural cool elegance and elfin features.  Sporting an array of spectacular tiles, she and Jackie Kennedy Onassis were a tour de force, keeping the designer hat business afloat throughout the sixties.

But clearly the romance between screen sirens and movie millinery did not begin and end with La Hepburn.  From the birth of the industry via silent movies in the twenties through to the introduction of the first ‘talkies’ in the thirties, movies stars like Norma Sheara, Alice Day and Mae West dazzled and smouldered in their picture hats, turbans and cloches.

As we moved into the forties the effects of wartime austerity on the fashion industry was reflected in the more modest millinery shown in the movies.  Film stars like Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney and Dorothy Lamour wore hats that were smaller and less flambouyant than their Hollywood predecessors, with the trilby and beret leading the fashion field on the runway.

As we’ve already seen, costume designers in the fifties and sixties were dying to break free from the shackles of austerity spawning a whole new era of outrageous millinery that only became slightly diluted by the dawn of the age of Aquarius in the form of the hippie movement. Among the starlets who lead the pack as milliner’s muses during the fifties and sixties were of course Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Lauren and Grace Kelly.

The seventies and eighties were not great eras for contemporary movie millinery but they did spawn a number of interesting television costume dramas like Upstairs Downstairs, Dallas and the Onedin Line where hats did occaisionally upstage the actors.

And finally we come to contemporary movies and their influence on hat designers like Philip Treacy and Pip Hackett.  With films like The Red Hat, Titanic, The Duchess and The Great Gatsby plus television series like Downton Abbey movie millinery continues to thrill and inspire.

My own nod to the sirens of the silver screen are a Passion for Peonies, Invitation to the Abbey and Silver Screen Siren all of which are available to purchase or hire from my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HatCoutureCreations

Chambers… a Dictionary of Style

Where do I gain inspiration for my up-cycled and original gems?  Whilst I enjoy exploring my own creative ideas, there is of course no substitute for research and learning from some of the brightest stars in the millinery constellation. However when it comes to asking a hataholic to name their favourite designer, there will always be conflict. Some of us enjoy the whimsical floral artisty of Pip Hackett, while others crave the more abstract vibe of Philip Treacy or Stephen Jones.  Then there’s the new kids on the hat block including Dawn Guibert and the theatrical De De Valentine.  For the great unwashed (or as yet untainted) here’s the first in a series of pieces that will provide a quick race through some of the current maestros of millinery and a lexicon of great ideas.

WILLIAM CHAMBERS

Milliner William Chambers started hat making in 2007 – the same year Roisin Murphy wore his creations on tour!  He set up his studio in Glasgow city center and now makes custom-designed hats for clients by appointment only plus his own stunning contemporary designs.

William ChambersBrought up in North Lanarkshire, Chambers gained a First Class Hons degree in Textile Design at the Scottish College of Textiles before studying millinery at Glasgow’s Metropolitan University. He worked for luxury haberdashery VV Rouleaux before setting up William Chambers Millinery in 2008 after winning the VICE UK Creative 30 competition. He has won Accessory Designer of the Year three times at the Scottish Fashion Awards.

He exhibits his collections twice a year at London Fashion Week,and his hats are stocked in Harrods, Fenwick and Fortnum & Mason in London, Samuel’s Hats New York and on LoveHats.com. He opened his own hat shop in Glasgow city centre in 2014.

Celebrities who have worn his hats include Kelis, Suzi Perry, Joan Jett, Ana MatronicRMurphy_V_03Feb09_PR (Scissor Sisters), Roisin Murphy, Livia Firth, Anna Della Russo and Judy Murray, who commissioned a Chambers hat for her son Andy’s wedding – photos of which appeared in every UK newspaper the next day.

His hats have appeared in Vogue, Elle, Evening Standard, Style.com, Tatler, New York Post, The Telegraph, The Sun, Metro, Grazia, Red, Glamour, Conde Nast Brides, Wallpaper, Travel & Leisure, Nylon, The Herald, Harpers Bazaar, Paper, Sunday Herald and The Scotsman, and he features in the hardback book Couture Hats.

Chambers seeks to modernise millinery with a fresh look at how we dress the head today. Chambers’ taste for the avant-garde mixed with his knowledge of the retail sector results in designs that are at once both exquisite and wearable. He mixes traditional materials such as felt and sinamay with contemporary materials like latex, plastic and metallic leather, creating headwear that is both progressive and desirable. He takes his inspiration from many sources, but the biggest influence on his designs is his own flower-filled back garden: he is as keen a gardener as he is a milliner.

For my part I love his use of flowers and organic materials in his work and you can clearly see his influence in some of my own originals.  The image on the left shows a William Chambers original from his bridal collection (£495) whilst the image on the right shows The Diva Bride (£180) from my own Hat Couture collection available from http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/HatCoutureCreations