at Elephant and Castle

Hurray a new millinery supply place in town that is close to me. This could be dangerous.

Back in October, I rode my bike over on a Tuesday and was greeted by the owner Michelle. has been around awhile online, but has just opened a physical shop at  The Art Works Elephant which is around the corner from the Elephant and Castle tube station in London at Elephant Road & Walworth Road. Look for the orange door inside the courtyard.

Petershams at Art Works Elephant
Petershams look for the orange door

Petershams has a lovely selection of sinamay and feathers.

Sinamay feathers petershams
Sinamy and feathers

Shelves of basic hat bodies, combs, headbands, veiling, etc.

Supplies Petershams
Miscellaneous Millinery Supplies

And a few skeins of strip straw. This red was so amazingly vibrant. I was very tempted, but I already had a table full of feathers, sinamay, and tubular crin.

strip straw Petershams
A few skeins of strip straw

Let us not forget the petersham ribbon.

A variety of petersham ribbon

The shop is small and does not have every size of every colour, of every item, but it probably does have something that will work. And if you are in need of ideas, she has a box of vintage hats under the cutting table that are good fun to look at and try on. I thought these two were fun. The red straw with strawberries and the little beehive of tiny blue tubular crin.

red vintage hat petershams
tiny tublecrin vintage hat petershams vintage hats under the cutting table

Michelle is also from California. How many people do you think are from California, living in London and making hats? More than two?

Michelle Petershams
Here is Michelle Osborne the owner of

And if all of this is not enough, Michelle has a new puppy, that can be found in the back workroom. I am sorry that I didn’t get a photo of puppy cuteness.

Winter Holiday Markets and Wonderful Hats

I had the joy of seeing many of my hat class friends put their hats out for sale at both Temple Church and   Morley College Winter Fairs last week. The cold brought out the winter hats “On the Street” at Somerset House, and my daughter made me a tree ornament. Take a look.


Temple winter fair Petula Maggie

Holiday Markets are always fun. I love seeing the amazing creativity and craftsmanship of people, especially my friends.

The first was a fantastically hidden market, the Temple Christmas Fair on Thursday, 3 December at the Middle Temple Hall. It was an intense and beautifully dark carved wood venue with gorgeous products for sale. A couple of hatting friends from Morley College and Edwina Ibbotson‘s were selling their own custom made hats. Petula and Maggie must not have slept for a month prior to the show. My picture above only shows and few of their charming hats.


Temple Church

Not to go too far a field, but the Temple Church was selling a book at one of the stalls that was about the truth and fiction of the Knights Templar and the Temple Church in London. I had no idea that going to a Winter fair was going to link up with the Knights Templar from the book Da Vinci Code. I love London.

Temple Church Knights Templar
Book explaining the Knights Templar, Temple Church and the Da Vinci Code

Morley College hosted its Winter Fair on Sunday, 6 December. Many of my Jane Smith, Hat Class friends, Stefania, Dusia, and Clare, were there with their hats, even Jane herself. There were so many hats that they ran out of display space. Morley is also a lovely venue and the main hall has large murals along both walls, that deserve more than a passing glance.


Morley winter fair Clare

The Somerset House is hosting outdoor skating this Winter and Fortum & Mason have taken over part of the building for a swanky Pop-Up Shop.

Somerset House

One of the best parts of this time of year is that it is cold and people on the streets are wearing warm hats. These lovely ladies allowed me to capture them while doing a bit of shopping at the Somerset House.

Somerset Lade in dark trilby

Somerset Lady in Grey hat

Somerset Lady in Beret

Hopefully I will be organized enough next year to post the dates of these fairs before they occur.

Also on the winter hat theme, my daughter surprised me with an adorable ornament for our tree. She made it while I was out at the Morley Winter Fair, from a shape found online and a piece of Harris Tweed from my fabric stash. It even has the date in the loop.  The second best part…she cleaned up the project mess before I got home. I love her and my new ornament.

Bowler ornament Eliana

and remember, Interesting People Wear Hats.

2015 Kensington & Chelsea College – Next Generation of Milliners

Kensington & Chelsea College (KCC) Milliners Graduate Collections are Diverse and Interesting. Take a look at select pieces of each of their collections.

Emily Dobson - KCC2015 (1)
Emily Dobson
Amy May Morris - KCC2015 (1)
Amy May Morris
Rosaleen Mac Cullogh - KCC2015
Rosaleen Mac Cullogh

Tis the season for graduations. As I am still rejoicing in my son’s graduation from University in May in California, I have an eye toward the graduation collections of the fashion and design schools in London.

Until last year I didn’t even know that going to see the collections of graduating students was even something to be done.  However after attending the Kensington and Chelsea College Graduate Collection for the Millinery department. I am hooked. The collections are strikingly full of imagination and craftsmanship.

Congratulation to Lily Pouzet, Jodie Whitelock, Lottie Fenby, Emily Dobson, Emily Adams, Sylvia Jardim, Rosaleen Mac Cullagh, Amelia Locke, Hannah Wyatt, Natasha Bicknell, Amy May Morris, Maryam Davas, Daphne Ferdinandus.

Each collection of five pieces had at least one piece to which I was drawn. I found pieces intriguing for a variety of reasons: the materials used, the immense imagination, the creative construction, breath taking beauty, and emotional impact.

Lily Pouzet - KCC2015
Lily Pouzet – I love the stiffened lace and the lift of the sheer black. It looks light and dramatic.
Jodie Whitelock - KCC2015 -1
Jodie Whitelock – The clear acrylic was flawless and the “spun sugar” effect was clever.
Lottie Fenby - KCC2015 (1)
Lottie Fenby – Great use of acrylic with crystals for emphasis.
Lottie Fenby - KCC2015 (2)
Lottie Fenby – amazing beads, stones and fringe details.
Emily Dobson - KCC2015
Emily Dobson – My photography skills let this one down. The copper on the leather was lovely and the crystal encrusted leaf, very nice.
Emily Adams - KCC2015
Emily Adams – Its the laser cut wood that got me on this one.
Sylvia Jardim - KCC2015
Sylvia Jardim – Most likely to wear, lovely colors and good fabric textures.
Rosaleen Mac Cullagh - KCC2015 (1)
Rosaleen Mac Cullagh – Snakes shaped out of feathers! Awesome.
Amelia Locke - KCC2015 (1)
Amelia Locke – Veiling, lace and a twist – great for a wedding. There is an essence about it that feels familiar to me.
Hannah Wyatt - KCC2015
Hannah Wyatt – Hand dyed silk with the coordinating needle work. A love use of mixed media and craftsmanship.
Natasha Bicknell - KCC2015
Natasha Bicknell – Structurally interesting wire frame combined with fascinating materials.
Amy May Morris - KCC2015
Amy May Morris – Some times over the top beads is just right.
Maryan Davas - KCC2015 (1)
Mayan Davas – Intense w/ wire and leather
Maryan Davas - KCC2015
Maryan Davas – How did she make the face within the fibrous material?
Daphne Ferdinandus - KCC2015
Daphne Ferdinandus – One side is feathers, the other is flowers and the metal swirl to for a lovely bit of smooth textural tension.
Daphne Ferdinandus - KCC2015 (1)
Daphne Ferdinandus – How did she make those little cubes? The geometric with the organic waves – lovely.

I loved seeing these amazing pieces, and have posted about them in the order that I saw them at the exhibit. Thank you milliners.

I did have two general observations. The first is that those who exhibited a collection with dark fabrics were far more visible against the white mannequin head and white background, than the light colored collections. As you can see from the images for the collections at the top of this post. Second, collections that had some small and some large pieces were more appealing to me when looking at them as a group. I’ve just remembered a lesson I learned from taking pictures of last years graduating collections. Taking a picture of the whole collection does not work for looking back to remember what you liked about the individual pieces, as the details are lost.

I wish all these milliners, good luck in their careers.

And remember…. interesting people wear hats.


Jane Smith – Theatrical Hatter Interview – HA5

HA 5 Jane Smith Interview

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

Jane Smith Anne of the Thousand Days

Sculpture at art school – found 3D easy

L&H Nathan on 143 Drury Lane, London, WC2 – 3.5 years
did things for
Madame Tussauds (
Madam Tussauds 1970's
D’Oyly Carte (

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.

Jane Smith Scrooge

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) (,
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
Jane Smith Judi Dench 1

Jane Smith Judi Dench 2

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
edwardian flyaway brim

Boaters with poppies, cornflowers & roses. Making boaters in flat selling like hot cakes. Had 3 friends working for her.
Jane Ashley photograph 1970's

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
Madam Tussauds 1980's
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.
Jane Smith Laura Ashley 1985

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.

Jane Smith Shop Photo

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

Jane Smith 49th bday

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,
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

Serpents Kiss (1997)
Consolata Boyle – Costume Designer
Ewan McGregor, Gretta Scacchi, Fabia Drake

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
Jane Smith Period Bonnets

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
Jane Smith Keira Knightly 1

Jane Smith Keira Knightly 2
Iron Lady (2011)
Consolata Boyle – Costume Designer
Meryle Streep (1949 -) Made her hats. Meeting her was very enthralling
Jane Smith Meryle Streep

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

Pan (2015)
Andrea Cripps – Assistant Costume Designer
Kathy Burke (1964 -) Actress
Huge nun’s headdress – They could not make them stay in place.

The epic ironing board

Teaching – about 6 London colleges at one time
London College of Fashion (
Northbrook College (
Bournemouth College ( – designed a set of hat blocks
Wimbledon College of Arts (
Rose Bruford College (
Kensington & Chelsea College (

Morley College ( (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

Jane Smith teaching

The importance of being able to carve your own blocks
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Wizards hats
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.

On the Street – Real people in London HA4

HA 4 On the Street

I take to the streets of London to see what hats people are wearing a cool day in March.

I usually ride my bike to hat class but not today, I had a meeting after class. I love riding my bike. I ride for sanity, fitness and transportation, and on hat class day it is for all three. However on the days that I cannot ride, the best part of not riding my bike is I can wear one of my adored hats, or test drive a new hat. This day I choose my grey fur felt fedora. I will do a podcast about this specific hat at a later date.

Leanne in Grey Fedora

On my walk to Morley College from the Elephant and Castle tube station, I noticed a sign for a new exhibit at the Imperial War Museum (IWM). I have not been yet, but I will go see Fashion on the Ration – 1940’s Street Style, apparently they are also offering a 40’s style lunch for group bookings. I’ll have to go check it out.

Just after snapping a photo of me in front of the sign so I don’t forget. This is my current note taking and reminder system…take pictures of it.

Pink Beret

As I set off down the street a striking older woman approached.  She was so lovely and I was only a little late for class. I asked if I could take her pictured. She agreed and then promptly told me she was 87 years old. She was absolutely charming with her magenta coat, dusty rose wool felt beret and large single pearl hat pin. We had a lovely chat and I learned that she is a turn local Londoner. Born just a few block to the West side of the IWM, moved a few blocks to the East side of the IWM at age 6, then to the North side when she married at 22, where she’s lived ever since.  We parted ways and I went off to work on my 1840’s style straw bonnet.

Wool Caps

After hat class I set off for Oxford Street by way of the Lambeth North tube station. Still feeling brave (Brave is my word for the year) and energized from my successful encounter with the little lady in pink, I mustered the courage to ask these two people if I could photograph them in their hats. They were surprised, but delightfully agreed. The lady in the green wool hat was from East Africa and the man in the black cap was from Germany. I love the diversity of London!

Stained glass at MacLaren Hall

I headed across town just after class to take a look at the venue for the London Hat Week, Milliners’ Questions Time event, that I am moderating. Tickets are now available for £16, so if you are interested, follow the links. It is in a listed building and I’ve attached just one of the beautiful stained glass windows.

A walk down Oxford Street is always a wonderful time in people watching. There were many people wearing your basic knit hat in all its various forms, there were a few deer stalkers and the occasional fur cossack.

This lady was happy to allow me to capture her cowboy style hat.

Cowboy style

My biggest challenge of the day was the flat cap. There was something about the gentlemen wearing the flat caps, and there were a lot of them, but I just didn’t feel comfortable approaching them. However, this kind man agreed to pause a moment on his hurried run to the tube station. I just adore the flat cap and his smile.
Flat cap on Oxford St

Spring colors in the Oxford Street windows – It is all about yellow and blue. From children to adults to handbags, yellow is everywhere with compliments of blue.

Colour Yellow Blue

Current Events

Austro-Hungarian Empress Elisabeth’s riding hat fetches 134,000 euros (110,500 GBP, 186,500 USD) at an auction in Vienna on 5 March 2015. If that isn’t if hats can appreciate in value and not just in the eye of people, it I think we can look forward to seeing more hats around town.

Empress Elisabeth, called “Sisi” by family and friends was a beauty and free spirit who continues to intrigue biographers, novelists and film makers, was assassinated by an Italian anarchist in 1898. for more information see the article in

Thank you little lady in the pink beret, you made my day.

And remember, interesting people wear hats.