Tuesday, 18 March 2014

High Fashion and High Hats

It's hard to know how to describe this category of hats, the tall hats that sit back on the head, covering pulled-back hair. Whatever you call them, I fell for them pretty hard!

They appear primarily in "high fashion" photos, and on women like Audrey Hepburn. I haven't seen them in photos of everyday women, and I haven't seen many vintage hats for sale in this style either. I assume they didn't spread much further than the couture photoshoots, but perhaps I have just been looking in the wrong places. My research sources are primarily British, Australian and American, and they may have been a more popular style in mainland Europe.

This first one is of my own design, based on a few elements from different sixties hats. When I saw a hat with a "bubbly" outline, I knew I wanted to try to recreate that look, and my "block" (vase) lent itself well to this shape and style. It's in red wool felt, trimmed with cord and wool felt.


In the middle of making this hat, I hadn't decided on trims yet. I was walking past the Victory Theatre in Blackheath (an old cinema that is now an antique centre and cafe - and a lovely place!) with my groceries, and I had a feeling I should go in. Upstairs in the vintage fashion section, in a glass case, was a 1960s hat. It was a different overall shape to this one, but it was felt with ripples like this. The ripples were trimmed with black cord, and it had two pom-poms dangling from the top. I decided against pom-poms in the end, but I used the cord idea.


You can see that I needed a model for this hat, since I am lacking in the feature required to wear it - hair you can put into a bun! This is my beautiful and extremely stylish (and very dear) friend Ruanne, who appeared in the last post (and you will be seeing her again).

I'm getting to point where I'm making enough hats that calling them by their descriptions is becoming tiresome, and since I am looking at so many vintage sources, I've decided to follow their lead and name some of my hats. This one is called "Giana".


The second hat is a copy of a design that appeared in a British Pathe video from 1963 of Italian Women's Hats. It's very important that you look at mine before you look at the inspiration, though!

It was this video that guided me to Italian names for these two hats. This one: "Alessandra".


This is a camel-coloured wool felt with black pheasant feathers. An extra band of the felt makes up the decorative twist at the front. I'm almost at the end of my old store of pheasant feathers, and I've never had any of the scale that appear on the inspiration hat! They are massive! I will say that my interpretation is a subtler, more wearable and practical version.


I often play with photo filters, but don't used them much on the blog (apart from black and white) because I want to represent the hats as they are. I couldn't, however, resist the lovely colours brought out by this one (and it's still pretty close to the original).


British Pathe is one of my favourite places to look for hat inspiration. The benefit of seeing the hats in motion, from lots of angles, on a model, and often with the colours and materials described by the narrator, is unbelievable. This won't be the last Pathe-inspired hat you see here!

Are you a British Pathe fan? Do you have a favourite video?

This post is part of a series "Hats of the Past: A milliner explores history." Previous posts are my first impressions and changing ideas about sixties fashion, a look at sixties style of fur hat, an exploration of pillboxes, and a look at the state of millinery in 1960.

Oh and both of these hats are up in my online shop.
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14 comments

  1. I love the hat names, and both the hats and Ruanne look fabulous!

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    1. Thank you! Naming them is kind of fun. I think I'll keep giving it a go!

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  2. I agree that Ruanne looks amazing. I may not have recognised her in a couple of them if I had seen them out of context.

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    1. She does look incredible, and we had such a fun time doing the photoshoot too.

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  3. oh the brown one is divine!!!! i wish i was a gazillionare and i would buy it and appropriate clothes and shoes to wear it with. Ruanne also looks amazing!!!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you like it :) And Ruanne is indeed a lovely model! I'm lucky to have her!

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  4. Such marvelous 1960s style hats! I really like the black and red one and the trim you settled on (what a great place to source it from). I can't help but picture Barbara Streisand (though she wasn't a huge hat wearer from what I've seen) wearing it. Something about it really reminds me of her style in that decade.

    ♥ Jessica

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  5. Oh my oh my oh my that Alessandra hat is wonderful! Well they are both so beautiful but I'm a big fan of the Alessandra. I personally have never ventured into the world of 1960s hats and now I'm thinking that maybe it might be fun to do so one day, thank you so much for the style inspiration.

    Liz :)

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    1. Thanks Liz! I'm glad you like the hats and I'm very happy to have provided some inspiration :)

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  6. Holy wow, those are some amazing hats. You're so talented! The Alessandra I would wear all the time, and Giana looks like something straight out of a 1960's fashion shoot, it's totally spot on.

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    1. Aww thank you! It's nice to know I've hit the mark I was aiming for :)

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