I have been wanting to go to The Hat Works Museum in Stockport for years. HATstock made it happen for me. However, I am going to need another day to go up and see the Museum properly.
This was a high density day. Early train ride from London, new city and venue, 6 talks, each lasting 30 minutes, exhibits from milliners with varied styles and materials, a market place of lovely millinery supplies and a beautiful museum. Concluded with a quick search for a sandwich and a 3 hour journey back home. Only for hats or a sick child can I endure that dense and lengthy of a schedule.
Presentations were informative and entertaining, which is a very good combination. Here is a highlight of the talks I attended.
Nick Parkin of Parkin Fabrics
The History and Production of Sinamay movie
Here is a trailer of the movie, but the whole movie is only available through a Parkin Fabrics presentation.
Nick also passed around various samples of sinamay materials. A very light weight and soft fabric used for making wedding garments for the very hot Philippine environment. Unlike the much stiffer sinamay we use for hats.
Then the tighter weave and panning of sinamay which makes what we call pinokpok which is also used for hats.
Sophie Cooke, Amanda Moon, and Siobhan Nicholson
The Hat Stand
Journeys into Millinery
Bink of Pearls & Swine
Social Media and Selling Online
Bink is as bubbly to talk with as she is in appearance. I have seen the Pearls and Swine brand in my social media sites, but I cannot tell which one: Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. With a name like Pearls and Swine I didn’t forget.
Her social media advice was great. Although a bit vague on specific actionable steps which I would have liked, her messages were powerful and clear.
Be active on social media it is much cheaper and reaches further than a brick and mortar shop.
Make it fun for readers.
Be genuine, creative and different.
Build excitement and anticipation in your promotions.
Bink has marketing mojo in more than just social media. When I visited her millinery exhibit, she gave me a little goodie bag with her card, as well as cards of other people. She too is leveraging relationships with other vendors, less formal than The Hat Stand ladies, but still valuable. Look at all these little treasures in the pink and white striped goodie bag.
Rupert told stories told through narration of old photographs that had been lost for generations in various family homes. The pictures had all the costume and glamour of a BBC period drama. Rupert’s sense of humor and story telling was amusing. It was riveting to see these very old pictures and hear stories. Some challenges, some victories, and the elegance of a wealthy family long ago.
Battersby Hats of Stockport, An Illustrated History, by Rupert Battersby.
The Hat factory which has evolved over the years. The large water tower on the left was built after the hat works burnt twice. However once the water tower was built they never had a fire. I suppose the water tower indirectly did the job.
Georgina Abbott and Becky Weaver
LHW goes Regional
I’ve known Georgina and Becky, the founders of London Hat Week since the first London Hat Week several years ago. I always enjoy talking with them. They were at HATstock to promote the idea of building regional hat events. If the energy and excitement of HATstock is any indication, it is a great idea. Personally I would love to visit more regional events. Georgina Abbott owns Atelier Millinery and Becky Weaver is the editor of HATalk.
Here I am pictured with Bronwen (the coordinator of HATstock) on the left, Becky & Georgia in the center, and me to the right.
A Woman’s Hat is Close to Her Heart
I loved Sharon’s presentation. It was a mix of slide show and commentary on hats and the creation of identity. How a hat can change your mood as well as your persona. She touched on the idea of a milliner as a technical crafts person and having the artistic vision to generate a transformation of the wearer.
Sharon is very knowledgeable about hats and history and her diverse career path is fascinating. From lawyer to milliner, to Leeds College of Art tutor to exhibit curator. I would like to spend more time with Sharon and attend more of her talks.
I love getting together with milliners. They are a diverse and interesting mix of people with marvelous stories and skills with a common interest in hats. I came home exhausted but my hatting cup was full.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I bought a few bits from Masario and some felts and Petersham from Parkins.
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.
A Study of Peaks workshop covered a lot of tips and techniques on materials and shapes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This interview I moderated was recorded live before an audience at McLaren Hall during London Hat Week 2015. I will be releasing the recordings in several 20 minute podcasts. Please sign up for the Hattin’ Around Newsletter to find out when the next episode of Milliner’s Question Time 2015 interview has been posted.
Please enjoy getting to know three amazing people and clever London Milliners. Show Notes:
London Hat Week 2015
Milliners’ Question Time
MacLaren Hall 11-13 Mandeville Place, London
01:20 My introduction of Edwina, Noel & Rachel
01:47 Edwina Ibbotson’s Introduction
02:47 Noel Stewart’s Introduction
03:25 Rachel Trevor Morgan’s Introduction
04:12 Leanne askes about their journey into millinery with Roses & Thorns.
05:16 Noel Stewart shares his journey in millinery.
08:26 Rachel Trevor Morgan shares her journey.
12:23 Edwina Ibbotson shares her journey.
21:06 Conclusion & Thank you’s Edwina Ibbotson’s Introduction
Milliner for over 20 years
Studied at Fashion Institute of Technology NY with Ann Albrizio
London College of Fashion with Marie O’Regan
Studied with Rose Cory and French milliner Roland Bouget
Work for top London milliner, Philip Somerville
Pieces called for exhibits and photo shoots Edwina’s designs are couture millinery at its best. Her designs are flirtatious, timeless, romantic with a slight vintage feel and constructed to perfection. Noel Stewart’s Introduction
Studied at the Royal College of Art
Worked for Designer Dai Rees
Stephen Jones’ assistant at Christian Dior, John Galliano, and Louis Vuitton
Appointed Creative Director at Christy’s & Co. Hats, owned by Liberty Noel’s inspiration comes from contemporary art and architecture. Whilst using his extensive skills, he modernizes millinery. Rachel Trevor Morgan’s Introduction
Milliner for 25 years
Operates from her 17th century atelier in St. James’
She is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers
Granted the Royal Warrant of appointment to Her Majesty the Queen
Has a husband and three children. Rachel is renowned for her beautiful handwork and design. Resulting in a glamorous feminine elegance.
Noel Stewart’s Journey
Evening course summer holiday
Favorite task is stitching a Petersham
Making furniture – making hats
Dai Rees – steep learning curve
Royal College – Millinery MA
Stephen Jones Rose/Thorn – Everyday is different
Rachel Trevor Morgan’s Journey
Traditional foray into millinery
A levels – started focus on the theater
Mother wore a lot of hats to church on Sunday
Wrote to 10 hat companies in West 1 (London), must be good.
Kangol – Graham Smith – met Graham, offerred a job. Best place to learn for 3 years
Philip Somerville – smaller business – met Edwina (Ibbotson) Learned the other side of business
Market stall – Central St. Martins
Little workroom that was rent free
Moved to St. James been there for about 22 years Rose – adore her job – Thorn – long hours
Love & Hate in equal measure
Don’t go home for 3 weeks before ascot
Edwina Ibbotson’s Journey
Photography in Edinburgh
Ice cream parlor – hated it
Rework hats from charity
Nanny in American for a few months
New York – FIT 9 months
Ann Abrizio tutor –
Met Lilly Daché and Mr. John – didn’t fully appreciate it
Course should take 3 yrs, but did it faster
Following boyfriend to Nottingham, decided can’t live here
Had been to Leeds, Manchester, London
Lived in squats
London College of Fashion
Stephen Jones interview, but no job
Marie got her a job at Philip Somerville’s – Mr. Somerville
Marie teaching Carole Denford (The Hat Magazine) there at the same time.
Lunch meet friends and not go back
Class w/ Rose Cory
Class w/ Roland – she lived in Paris
Rachel was very sweet and would let Roland, Edwina, and Andrew use her workroom for a few months.
House model at Philip Somerville’s – holes in jeans, Dr. Martens, hair a mess. “Get Edwina a nice dress”. Occasionally answer the phone. Small workroom, on a busy day had 8 milliners. Older ladies w/ lots of experience
Work experience in Paris – Knocked on Marie Mercie’s door. They glued everything – not impressed but they did good work on the 17 guinea machine.
Princes Business trust, loan & grant
£40 government scheme
Living in squats – amazing houses
Climb through the window
Two different lives – ladies who could afford expensive hats.
Bridal wear designer
Same shop for 18 years
Doesn’t sell to trade anymore, mostly private clients
Love going to work everyday
Thorn – ratio of home life & work life.
Father production manager
Started at a Costumier in the stock room.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Richard Burton (1925 – 1984) Actor
Genevieve Bujold (1942 -) Actress
Sculpture at art school – found 3D easy
L&H Nathan on 143 Drury Lane, London, WC2 – 3.5 years
did things for
Madame Tussauds (https://www.madametussauds.com/London/)
D’Oyly Carte (http://www.doylycarte.org.uk/about)
Small scenes in film – Scrooge (1970)
Maggie Furse (1922-1974) Costume Designer
Albert Finny (1936 -) Actor
Bonnets around edge of cricket fields – Liberty prints & made solidly
Nathans taken over by Berman’s years later
The bonnets were still doing service. They were like iron, buckram & wire.
The bonnets were good shapes, 1830’s with big brims and little crowns.
The Music Lovers (1970)
Ken Russell (1927-2011)
Principles – Richard Chamberlain & Glenda Jackson
Shirley Russell (1935-2002) – Costume Designer
Did little straws – little girls running in white frocks (dresses)
Lady Caroline Lamb (1972)
David Walker (1934 – 2008) Costume Designer – known for Opera
Sarah Miles(1941 – ) Actress
Coral Browne (1913 – 1991) Actress
Tiaras with cameos – Taught how much to leave in and take out.
The shapes will do what you want them to.
Film doesn’t need the kind of detail I wanted.
Joyce Hammond costume designer at BBC
Prue (Prunella) Scales (1932 – ) – tiny crowns, tiny fez tiny beaded trees, boot polish look like dug up. Solid made. Done w/ gold gimp
I could do stagy crowns, straw hats, bonnets, and little theatrical stuff,
but not toppers or men’s hats yet.
Did you have any training?
Millinery Class at LCF (London College of Fashion) on John Princes Street.
The girls said, “don’t go – they will turn you into a milliner”
I looked at everything fresh, and still like that 40 years later.
London Assurance (1970’s) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Assurance),
RSC at Aldwych Theatre
Judi (JuJu) Dench (1934 – ) Actress
A big wide straw, a skimmer. I didn’t know how to make it bigger, it suddenly pulled out in all the damp and steamy.
Ah Ha moment at 4 am
Love 4 AM lovely fresh thinking time, no phone rining
The World Service on the radio – journalist are native to the country they are reporting from.
The ship knocker on the door –
Changes over fromBBC4 to the World Service – play Sailing By
Eventually made it from stock room to the show room
Working night and day – making hats
did a lot of commercials
Make boys Edwardian hats, Laura Ashley liked the Edwardian feel
Helen Messenger (1934-2012) Designer
Laura Ashley (1925 -1985), Bernard Ashley(1926-2009)
Big flyaway brim straws – example of brims that Jane talks about
Boaters with poppies, cornflowers & roses. Making boaters in flat selling like hot cakes. Had 3 friends working for her.
Married and needed a workshop – Found on in Lambeth for 3-4 Quid (£, GBPounds)
Rented it for 6 months, but ended up being there for 3 years.
1st movie to do hats for on own
Back track a bit to when Jane leaves Nathans.
Patti Pope – Theatrical Hatter
Glyndebourne Opera House (opened 1934) in Sussex – work in props (1972)
Guests dressed in evening clothes, beautiful building, big interval – supper on lawn performed Mozart, Monteverdi – Ulyses, Verdi – MacBeth,
Raymond Leppard (1927 – ) Conductor
Benjamin Luxon (1937 – ) Lead Baritone – Ulyses
Makes Helmet for Ulyses
Annabelle Hawtrey – Went to same school, encouraged Jane to come to Glyndebourne.
Health & safety – gas rings, helmets
Mould greek egg shapes for helmet
Wanted to be able to pin into it. Used sawdust and glue. “Lovely Beast”
Jane fell in love with helmets at that time.
Most unique helmets for Acava at Victoria Palace.
Francis Rowe – RSC at Aldwych – wardrobe mistress, friends w/ guy at opera house If you don’t employ Jane I’ll never speak to you again.
Oliver Messels (1904 – 1978) Stage Designer, Verdi – MacBeth
Interview at Nags head on Floral Street with Andy Hall who runs props at Opera House
Only there a few months and meets BBC design assistant for The Pallisers (1974)
It’s a Welsh thing. Jane becomes Jane the Hat
Still working w/ Laura Ashley while at Glyndebourne.
Jane doesn’t require much sleep and is completely driven.
Makes boxes of summer straw hats and delivers to Laura Ashley on Fulham Road
While at Opera House it started to get a little bit big.
1st film on own was Bugsy Malone (1976) w/ lots of dance girls – feathery hats
Done in workshop, two streets away from where she is now in Battersea.
The Pallisers (1974) at Television Center
Fabia Drake (1904 – 1990) cap in black lace and lots of bits – into
Raymond Hughes – Costume Designer- “I’ve got a hatter”
24 episodes took 1.5 years. Now they can do a Major movie in 10 weeks.
Big adventure, terribly successful
7 principle hats a week – had people working for her all the time still working on Laura
Bran Buds advert for Kellogg – Mice w/ no tails .
Mike and Rosie Compton – Costume Makers
Jane made fur heads for 3 mice with charity shop fur coats
Vac – forming = heated bed covered with thick plastic plastic, sucks all the air out and shaped into every nook and cranny. Can not have any undercuts so must do a head in halves.
Got very fast at hats and bonnets. Jane could start the buckram and silk and order a cab and have it finished by the time the cab arrived.
Madame Tussauds – Henry’s Wives complete set – headdresses
Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862 – 1910), 1st criminal caught by radio
Hat had a big hole. People would nick (steal) things, so they’d nail it to the wax figure, so it couldn’t get pinched (stolen). Chamber of Horrors was very dark.
Victoria’s tiny crown – always being stolen
More Laura Ashley – Doing seasonal straws and bridal, felts came a little later on.
It took over the theater work.
Lots of girls working for Jane. One stayed for 20 years, Tracey Mogard.
Tracey, bought Jane Smith Straw Hats with two others when Jane sold the business. She is still going strong and a very good hat maker. They eventually changed the name to Herald and Heart, which used to be on Rye street. They had been next door in Battersea.
Herald and Heart did the hats for
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Lindy Hemmings (1948 – ) Costume Designer
Andy McDowel’s (1958 – ) Actress – big black hat
They hired out nearly all the hats in the shop for the wedding guests.
New workshop on Railton Road, Brixton. Three floors of a beautiful old shop.
Jane was doing 3,4,5 collections a year for Laura Ashley. All the designs and manufacturing of all hats that they sold.
She had to go to Luton to find wholesale supplies.
William Fischer (W. Fischer & Sons) company in Luton – Import/Export Agents.
Jane learned a lot about where things came from.
Got to know a lot about how straws were made and how to use different straws.
Luton and the hat trade were a very closed industry. Jane needed help blocking. Named the business Jane Smith Straw Hats.
The hat trade was dying all around her 1972 – 1974.
Jaycee Factory Closing – Jane filled her convertible with blocks for £3.50.
Loads (a lot) of the blocks were too old fashioned, but loads were usable –
Reasons for decline – running on empty for a long time,
not charging enough, the blocks were old 50’s shapes that were too small, No contemporary designers
Move to Brixton – had been paying £8 a week for three floors in Brixton
Brixton Riots of 1982 – Fireman answers the phone.
Neighbor gave Jane a record album with a burned corner and a picture of a girl with straw hat.
Moved St. Philips Street
Doing another set of Madame Tussauds,
Peabody Trust (founded in 1862).
George Peabody, an American banker and philanthropist
built houses for workers in the 1860’s.
Opened a retail hat shop
Launch party attended by friends and Fashion Editor of Vogue and Brides magazine
It took over a year to get enough of a following to take off. Discovered by racing people. They would give all sorts of dreadful things to make hats.
Jane is not couture, but she was contemporary.
Did hats for all sorts
Annie Lenox’s wedding hat,
Duchess of Norfolk,
Duchess of Kent’s, Daughter-in-Law,
6 hats for Sarah Ferguson before she married to Duke of York,
Tried for Diana, but she was having Harry and wasn’t doing engagements
Jimmy Mulville, founder of Hat Trick Productions
people come back year after year
Exhausted! 14 years with Laura Ashley, time for a change.
Sold business to Tracey & two other girls.
Didn’t want to make another hat as long as she lived
Sold it all – Travelled
Bus tours, Paris, Glasgow, Cathedrals, sculpture, exhibitions, Edinburgh, Paintings
Ran out of money. Time to get a job.
People thought she was mental or her business has gone bankrupt.
BBC shop below World Service.
Jean Hunnisett – Costume Designer and author – Advice, Teach.
Janet Kent in Liverpool she likes mad people like you
Christmas was wonderful – Chilean offices had best music
John Timpson (1928 -2005) – Managing Director
BBC World Service 70th anniversary – wonderful night
Teaching in Liverpool at Mary Fletcher – Liverpool city college
I didn’t have any idea how much I knew. Loved Teaching
Mary Husband – Costume Designer from the Beeb (BBC) Where have you been? Twiggy (1949 – ) Actress – made three cloches
Cosprops with John Bright, http://www.cosprop.com
Mark Wheeler – Theatrical Hatter, Shared a Regents Park Show
Starting again with new young designers – exciting
Guys and Dolls (2005) London Piccadilly Theater
Ewan McGregor (1971- ) Actor
Film was more precise than before – becoming very correct.
Principles (lead roles) would have something quirky to draw in audience of today but the others were dead on period piece costume.
Beautiful bits of lace and ribbons, old fabrics that would drop apart
Golden Compass (2007) 30 police helmets
The Duchess (2008)
Michael O’Conner (1965 -) Costume Designer -Won Oscar for Costume Design
Keira Knightly (1985 – ) Actress – Made all her hats
Hayley Atwell (1982 -) Actress – Made all her hats
Iron Lady (2011)
Consolata Boyle – Costume Designer
Meryle Streep (1949 -) Made her hats. Meeting her was very enthralling
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) lead to more principles –
Sandy Powell (1960 – ) Costume Designer – three oscars for costume design.
Kristen Scott Thomas (1960 -) Gables
Natalie Portman (1982 – ) Actress
Scarlett Johansson (1984 – ) Actress
Eric Bana (1968 – ) Actor
Did nearly all the principles hats.
Commercials always ask for weird things
bowler / flying helmet – usually strange mixture
Andrea Cripps – Assistant Costume Designer
Kathy Burke (1964 -) Actress
Huge nun’s headdress – They could not make them stay in place.
Morley College (http://www.morleycollege.ac.uk) (1996)
Janet Brown – Head of Fashion Department
4 years later got a set of blocks that Jane designed (2000)
currently teaching two mornings a week (10-1)
Morley will have theater hatting on a regular basis
Does summer school – block carving
The importance of being able to carve your own blocks
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Imelda Staunton (1956 – ) Actress
Legal hats – modify shape
Blocks are carved out of polystyrene
Everyone can carve. It is thrilling thing to teach –
1st one is a little lumpy and then suddenly they can do anything.
Thank Jane Smith for sharing your journey with me and allowing me to share it with other.
To see more Jane Smith hats, go to her website.