Friday, 25 November 2011

Something from North of the Border

Scottish Designer of the Year 2010, William Chambers was on the wish list, seeing his exciting forward thinking millinery in the Stephen Jones/Vogue competition the guest curator and team were a little worried, would he say yes? The delightful Mr Chambers did indeed say yes.....

An image from his Autumn/Winter 2011-12 collection Orchid Cascade. All rights with the designer.

Photography: Niall Walker. Make Up: Anna MacKenzie. Model: Ticky.
Another Scottish designer the team hoped to win over was the Sally-Ann Provan a milliner who creates the most exquisite ribbon trims. Her hats have a sense of whimsy, elegance and create an enigmatic aura around the wearer. The piece to be featured in the exhibition is also featured in the new book Handmade in Britain by  Piyush Suriso  a great honour for The Finishing Touch.
Belle du Jour (All rights reserved with the designer)
A taste of Sally's earlier work; looking forward to seeing Sally and Williams' creations at Hat Works from the 6th December 2011 until May 2012

More Yesses....

The emails were sent and fingers were crossed, hoping for more positive responses and beginning to envisage what would go there. One of the aims of the exhibition was to include suppliers and their materials as well as the finished hats in their trimmed glory. In the UK we are fortunate to have some stunning flower makers with Ellie-Rose and Millfields and both said yes to the request. Ellie-Rose have a range of wonderful vintage flowers which perfectly complement some of the 1950's Hat Works hats.

Images from

Millfields took on the challenge of creating a selection of flower trims specially for The Finishing Touch exhibition. It definitely felt like Christmas when the Guest Curator got to peep into the layers of tissue paper, so watch this space when the pictures appear as the exhibition opens. Here are a few of their flowers but nothing beats seeing them for real or ordering a few for your next trimmed creation.

Images from Millfield's web site

Another positive response from the wonderful Queen's milliner and the new Worshipful Company of Feltmakers Competition organiser , Rachel Trevor-Morgan, with the promise of a wonderful pill box covered in hand made flowers. Not wanting to spoil the suprise here is an example of Rachel's millinery talent.

Image courtesy of Rachel Trevor-Morgan all copyrights with the designer.

Wish List

In any craft, sport, music, dance etc we all have a wish list of those we would like to see. Like the newspaper celebrity question - Who would you invite to your ideal dinner party? So in many ways that was the initial thought on looking at who could really make the theme 'Trimmings' come to life, who would make up the first ideal wish list? As we are in the U.K. the master's of millinery were the first to spring to mind, Mr Jones and Mr Treacy, but how to get past the P.A.? Stephen Jones was ever so slightly busy with his New York, Anthology of Hats extravaganza so understandably he was unable to provide for the exhibition, but those who visit will be pleased to see his presence in other forms! Philip Treacy also slightly busy what with the wondrous demands from THAT Royal Wedding continuing through the Summer months, but he is not missing from The Finishing Touch.
Photo - Paul Dean for The Hat Magazine, Hat by Philip Treacy

In some ways not getting ones first designers makes thinking on who would work best for an exhibition theme far easier as it is approached in a different manner. So next step talk to a lady who is always ahead of the millinery curve, and a chat to Carole Denford at The Hat Magazine produced a more varied idea of who could be included. So the next list and set of emails read like a who's who of some of the British Millinery scene. (due to short notice the decision was made to keep participants within the UK - next time may be we can travel further) Many regularly featured in the style pages and fashion stories in magazines around the world. First to reply and say yes was the lovely sartorially elegant milliner Edwina Ibbotson. The Guest Curator was greatly releaved to have received a yes and from a milliner whose work they find irresistible.

Edwina Ibbotson in her studio Image by David Berehulak Getty Images Europe from

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Next Step

More boxes uncovered and an interesting afternoon in Hatter's Cottage storeroom at Hat Works, which made for lots more exciting discoveries which if you get to visit the new exhibition on Trimmings at Hat Works you will see. Delicious swishes of veiling, sparkling diamante, curled feathers, each box making you create a new narrative of who wore it and to what occasion.

So after much deliberations the selection of materials was made:

Feathers, Fabric, Ribbons, Flowers, Sinamay, Straw, Fur & Leather, Felt and New Materials.

Now to find some pieces from the collection to put in the cases and contact high profile and up and coming milliners to see if they would be happy to partake. Lots of uncertainty and a sprinkle of excitement as to what may happen in the next few months. Would everything be in place to set up from 27th November for opening on the 5th December. Lots to do................

Starting Points

Offered the opportunity to be an extra pair of hands organising and developing an exhibition on Hat Trimmings at Hat Works, Stockport seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The offer has led to a multitude of firsts and exciting discoveries that will overflow in these pages in the next few weeks, with some behind the scenes images and details of what it takes to create an exhibition and some focus on those taking part in the exhibition.

How to begin: Should the exhibition look at the chronology of trims or be focused on materials. The latter was the chosen starting point. First things first was to assess what the museums collection had to support the exhibition before deciding what materials to include. So a look through the museum on line archive which at present doesn't show all object images but is getting better day by day, produced some ideas, but the only way forward was to venture into the archives.

There is something magical about being in an archive, what will be unearthed and whether the description on the outside of the box will marry up to what's inside. In someways like a child at Christmas, hats and trimmed nestled in Acid free tissue paper, never sure of the colours or quality wrapped beneath.

a very beautiful box of feather trims