London Hat Week 2016 Wrap Up

leanne-stephen-jones-lhw2016
Leanne with Stephen Jones.

London Hat Week 2016 (LHW2016) was a success! My workshops were well attended with good reviews.  I packed in as many event as possible and loved the variety. Everything from the Hat Walk with Laird Hatters, Champagne High Tea at the Villandry, The Hilary Alexander and Stephen Jones interview at the Dirty Martini, Hat Exhibition at Coventry University in London and movie night at The Cinema Museum to watch the documentary, Mad about Hats. Here is my summary of the week. Note: the following video sometimes loads slowly.

London Hat Walk and Interviews from Phase 7 on Vimeo.

hat-walk-dandies-lhw2016
Impromptu photoshoot with dapper fellows from Laird Hatters
hat-walk-ana-pribylova-friend-lhw2016
Milliner from Netherlands and Ana Pribylova from UK/Australia

Hat Walk with year was a little different than the last couple and I’d say very successful. Laird Hatters sponsored the event and we were treated to a spot of tea and cake at The Espresso Room to start our journey at their New Row shop and a reward for finishing at their shop on The Strand with a lovely chocolate and a little tipple. The walk route was good fun featuring a leisurely stroll to Trafalgar square, where we stopped to take photos, chat and regroup, then continued on to the end point. I met several fabulous women from the Red Hat Bees of Bardwell, a woman from Scotland, as well as the Netherlands and Spain.

hat-walk-grey-n-grommets-lhw2016
Delightful Milliner from Scotland
handsome-chap-in-a-cap-hat-walk-lhw2016
Avid hat wearer and photographer

There was also an Interview of Georgina Abbott and Becky Weaver, Founders of London Hat Week.

stephen-jones-and-hilary-alexander-lhw2016
Hilary Alexander and Stephen Jones interview each other at the Dirty Martini in London, Oct 2016

The Stephen Jones interview by Hilary Alexander was absolutely charming. The two had a lovely chemistry that comes from years of working in the fashion industry where they were familiar with the same people over many decades. The venue, Dirty Martini was fun and interesting but ill suited for this event. Many of he attendees I have met over the years. It felt like a fun reunion.

 

lhw-2016-gmb-market-place
Guy Morse-Brown Hat Blocks at the LHW Market

The Market Place venue had amazing murals and architecture, but I stayed focused and true to my mission to explore the millinery supplies. 😉  I alway love a chat with Catherine and Owen of Guy Morse Brown.

lhw-2016-masario-market-place
Masario at the LHW Market

I bought a few bits from Masario and some felts and Petersham from Parkins.

lhw-2016-parkin-felt-peterham-market-place
My pretty new orange felt hood and matching Petersham from Parkin at the LHW Market
lhw-2016-wrg-ostrich-leg-market-place
Who knew you could get Ostrich leg leather at Walter Reginald at the LHW Market.

I am looking forward to heading over the East London to visit the ladies at Walter Reginald, leather specialist. They were fantastically helpful and educational. Who knew there is Ostrich leg leather. I am also wanting to try out fish leather. I touched it for the first time, and was surprised at how “leathery” it felt.

Hattin’ Around Classes and Milliner’s Roundtable at London Hat Week 2016

@Mrs_Gaskett picture on instagram of nautilus she made in class.

My first cockade workshop with #hattinaround great session #LHW

A photo posted by mrs_gaskett (@mrs_gaskett) on

A Study of Peaks workshop covered a lot of tips and techniques on materials and shapes.

hattin-around-peaks-class-lhw2016

Milliners Ribbon – Petersham workshop, learning about basic things, how to make a head fitting and shrinkage to advanced trimmings such as Cockades and the Nautilus. I also demonstrated how to do some vintage trimming from hats in the V&A Museum of Childhood collection.

hattin-around-petersham-class-lhw2016 hattin-around-petersham-at-work-lhw2016
The students were a delight. I had people from all over the world with varying levels of interest from ladies who have been in the millinery business for 20 years, to others who enjoy it as a hobby. I received great reviews and everyone said they learned something new.

A big huge thank you to Baxter Hart and Abraham for their generosity of ribbon and information about Petersham. Go see them for supplies, they are in Luton and have always been wonderful to me. The best part is they are patient with new milliners.

Milliner’s Roundtable

hattin-around-roundtable-lhw2016 hattin-around-roundtable-lulu-lhw2016
There were lots of good tips from the Milliner’s Roundtable.  A mix of milliners  from Australia, France and a strong showing from the UK crowd.  Several ladies from the South London as well as two who are near the same village in southern England, who knew of each other but had never met. Here are some ideas to help build awareness and a following that I really appreciated:

  • Giving talks at a local venue about hats or hat making?
  • Doing a charity fundraiser that features your hats, like a ladies tea with hats being modeled?
  • Approaching an empty shop owner who might appreciate an attractive window display while waiting for a new tenant.

Champagne High Tea at the Villandry was fun, but perhaps a poor choice of events to attend, as I had cut out refined sugar and alcohol from my diet. I have been to better venues for High Tea in London, but I always like trying some place new. The best part was getting to chat with charming people from the UK and Europe. We even swapped photos of hats we liked at the exhibition.

high-tea-lhw2016 hat-exhibit-high-tea-lhw2016

 

Movie Night at The Cinema Museum, the Museum is in the Victorian magnificence of the old Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin spent time as a child, in Kennington.  It isn’t the easiest of places to find but it is a treasure.  I joined other milliners to see an informative and interesting movie about the making of fur felt, the plight of the beaver and the impact of mercury used in hat making. Mad about Hats was a labour of love for director Olivier Vandersleyen and his family. Here is the Mad about Hats trailer.

mad-about-hats-collagemad-about-hats-5-star-fedora

cinema-night-architecture-lhw2016

cinema-night-group-lhw2016

I am seated in the grey fedora, next to the sign. The director and his wife are standing behind the sign, hatless.

Hat Exhibition at Coventry University, London was a sight to behold. Hats from around the world in many ways. I posted several pictures on my Facebook page.

So much of millinery and hatting is done in isolation, at least for me. Late evenings or while my children are at school. London Hat Week is an opportunity to connect with people of similar interest from all over the world.  Thank you Becky Weaver of HATalk and Georgina Abbott of Atelier Millinery for creating this wonderful event.  I look forward to more at the next London Hat Week is planned for Spring 2018, dates TBD.

leanne-hat-walk-lhw2016
Leanne at London Hat Walk

Field Trip to Luton – HA2

HA2 Field Trip to Luton

It was autumn 2013 and I was surprised with an invite to join Edwina Ibbotson and another apprentice, Mee on a field trip up to Luton to visit three millinery suppliers. Boon & Lane the block makers, Baxter, Hart & Abraham suppliers of felt, straw, and petersham, and Randall Ribbons suppliers of feathers, flowers, an endless array of sinamay colors and much more.

Mee, Me and Edwina
Mee, Me and Edwina

We drove to Luton in Edwina’s light blue vintage Mercedes. That is an experience unto itself. It takes me about 10 minutes to figure out how to do the old seat belts. It is an odd hook and magnet device.  The journey to Luton is about 40 miles through London and takes over an hour and 45 minutes, but we arrive mid morning at our first destination, Boon & Lane.

Edwina and the her vintage blue
Edwina and her vintage blue

 

Boon and Lane  are the block makers. This was an experience to remember. There were two men working in the block factory that was filled  with wood and sawdust on one half and different types of sand on the other. They make both wood and aluminium (also spelled aluminum in the USA, so the reason we pronounce this word differently is that it actually spelled differently in the UK vs US) blocks.  The aluminium blocks are used for more industrial use, where they are attached to a heating device and there is a top and bottom piece that clamps together to form the hat shape all at once.

Steve and sand
Steve Lane tamping sand for aluminum hat blocks.

 

Alan Davies and Steve Lane make everything.  When I was there, Alan was working on wood blocks while Steve handled the sand packing in preparation for the molten aluminium. They were welcoming and generous with their time. Explaining what they were doing, the stages of making a hat block and showing us the various pieces of equipment.

Alan and Edwina
Alan and Edwina discussing her custom shapes that have she has carved from polystyrene.

 

Stages of a block
Stages of block making from Right to Left

 

Thus far in my hat career, I’d done very little blocking, but I was completely seduced by being there. As you are sure to have guessed, today would be my first custom made block purchase. I choose a large downward flat 45 degree brim block and an oval head shaped flat topped crown block with slightly rounded edges, to contrast the domed oval crown block I had in my very limited collection. It took a couple of months for the blocks to be made. Shortly before Christmas, Edwina came back one day with her new blocks along with my freshly varnished crown and brim blocks. They were beautiful shiny golden yellow with my name and the year stamped into them. The excitement was only dimmed a bit as I tried to figure out how I was going to get this massive brim block home on my bike. Alas, I could only manage the crown block that day on the bike, I’d have to wait and bring it home on the bus a couple days later. The journey was made easier by using my very large linen furoshiki

Hat Block from Boon & Lane
Hat Block from Boon & Lane
hat blocks from BL
My first custom hat blocks.

 

 

Next stop –Baxter, Hart & Abraham, suppliers to the millinery trade. This place of tidy and well organized. The textile junkie in me thrilled to touch the various different felts. Wool felt, fur felt, and the really furry felts called Melusine. Then there was the colors. My shopping strategy goes, walking around and gather everything I want.  Then doing a mental subtotal of how much it will cost. Then feeling anxious about how much I have, then putting back some of my treasures, until I don’t feel the sense of financial panic. I bought several wool felts to practice on without too much financial impact, but my prize purchases were a yummy small (cone) cognac (gold) and a beautiful large (capeline) grey fur felt. It was glorious and I was so nervous at messing  up the fur felts. I envisioned a gray (grey) large brimmed hat with a fairly simple crown that I could wear all winter. However, it wasn’t going to be that winter that I’d get to wear it.

my treasures from BHA
My treasures from Baxter, Hart & Abraham – Felts, Petersham, and hat boxes.

 

Last stop- Randall Ribbons, the makers of all things feathers and flowers. They had a minimum order. Their website says a minimum order of £30.  I did not spend anything at Randall Ribbons.  I think I was a bit overwhelmed by this point.  I had placed a rather sizable order at the block makers, and purchased enough felt at the millinery suppliers to keep me busy for a while. And honestly I just could not envision how I would trim these new hats of mine. I would have bought a simple hat pin or something, but with a minimum order, I left with nothing. I cannot say the same for Edwina or Mee.

feather sample board at RR

Boxes of flowers at RR

Sinamay at RR

We only went to three places, but it was such a full day. Many thanks to Edwina for the tour of Luton and Mee for being a newbie like me. It was nice to be able to listen to someone else’s questions.

Since the field trip to Luton, I’ve heard the name mentioned several time in relation to the hat making and millinery industry.  In this country they have been making things for a very long time. Thankfully there are others who love doing to research and writing of the history and I get to read the fruits of their labour.  It was oddly relevant as I have just begun taking a strip straw class at Morley College with Jane Smith.

Stay tuned for future episodes about Luton History and my Strip Straw Saga.

HA Field Trip Luton map