Thursday, May 28, 2015

Draped in Swag: 15th Century Inspiration

Madame Agnes hats at the Grande Course de Haies, Paris France, 1938
Photo courtesy

Madame Agnes was a French milliner who designed hats from the late 1920's until the 1940's. She became sought after for her experimental surrealistic style. In the 1930's she began designing hats that were softer and often draped. The unusual-shaped, dramatic draped hats shown in the above photo might have well been inspired by the draped and swagged headdresses worn by women in the 15th Century.

15th Century draped headdresses.
Photo courtesy

Inspiration can come from many sources, even draped in the past.

"To understand fashion's present and future, it is therefore necessary to possess knowledge of it's past"   Benjamin Wild, fashion historian

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Robin Hood Hat: An Adventure in Style

Photo courtesy

You know the story. Outlaw bandit that steals from the rich to give to the poor. Robin Hood, the late-Medieval English folk hero, was immortalized by Errol Flynn in the 1938 film "The Adventures of Robin Hood".  The iconic hat worn by Robin Hood is distinguished by a peaked crown and triangular line that slants toward the face. It features a small, upturned brim and feather detailing. Versions of this style began appearing in women's fashions as early as 1935. Its sporty, masculine style was the perfect complement to the tailored daytime suits and coats of the era.

Christian Berard illustration of a Schiaparelli design featured at Bonwit Teller, circa 1935.

Black felt with a dramatic red feather, from the author's personal collection.

Victoire Roux wears an exaggerated version of the Robin Hood style hat.
OOAK ensemble from The Couture Touch.

Hat by Rose Valois, featured in August 1938 L'Officiel
Photo courtesy

Crochet your own Robin Hood style, circa 1935.
Photo courtesy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wrapped Up in Glamour: 1940's Turbans

From wartime chic to Hollywood glamour, the turban was an essential part of a woman's wardrobe during the 1940's. What could be more simple: a length of fabric wrapped around the head and manipulated into pure sophistication.

During World War II, women entered the workforce taking manual jobs in the factories and on the farms. Turbans became a necessity to cover and protect the hair. Making your own turban was encouraged by the government as rationing heralded a new norm. There was a wealth of knitting, crocheting, and sewing patterns available for the resourceful woman of the 1940's.

Promoting wartime chic: photograph by the British Ministry of Information

Circa 1940's knitted turban

Reproduction of a 1940's knitted turban pattern
from Vintage Visage Patterns on eBay

But, leave it to Hollywood to demonstrate the glamour of the turban! When costume designer Irene came up with the idea of a turban for Hedy Lamarr's exotic and aloof character in the 1938 film "Algiers", they became all the rage. There is something mysterious and just a little dangerous about a woman in a turban. Who can forget the iconic image of Lana Turner dressed in a simple white turban in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946).

Hedy Lamarr in "Lady of the Tropics" (1939)
Photo courtesy

Lucille Ball
Photo courtesy

Joan Crawford decorates her turban with jewels.
Photo courtesy

Gene Marshall
Monolithic Studios' star Miss Gene Marshall wears a green knit turban wrapped in dramatic fashion with the black satin dress from Integrity's "It's a Cinch". The neckline bow was removed and the belt from Sandra Stillwell's "Cover Girl" ensemble was added. Necklace and gloves are from Ashton Drake, and the leopard handbag is from Fashion Boulevard. Turban, bracelet and earrings are from The Couture Touch.

The inspiration for Miss Marshall's fabulous turban: Simplicity 1318 (1945).
Photo courtesy

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Upcycling Hats for Gene Marshall and Madra Lord

From home decor to jewelry to clothing, upcycling is a hot trend today. The process of taking an old piece and updating it is certainly not new. Because of wartime supply shortages, women of the 1940's were encouraged to recycle items in their wardrobe. "Make Do and Mend for Victory" was the motto of the day.

Hats were a favorite item to renovate. You can give a tired, old hat a new lease on life by simply changing the trimming or reshaping it into a new style. So when your miniature diva is in need of a new chapeau, consider taking a hat she already owns and upcycle it into a brand new one.

The "fur" hat from Ashton Drake's "Goodbye New York" suit ensemble becomes a chic cocktail hat with a nod to the whimsical style of Balenciaga. The original "fur" trim was replaced with a single red rose and feather spray. Suit is from The Couture Touch, gloves are from Robert Tonner, and handbag is from Ashton Drake. "Cocoa Crisp" Gene Marshall is from Integrity.

The black felt hat from Ashton Drake's "Doing Her Part" suit ensemble begs to be dressed up. The original satin ribbon band was replaced with a black velvet one and feathers accent this smart topper. OOAK suit, scarf, and gloves are from The Couture Touch, fur is from miniature furrier PD Root, and handbag is from Ashton Drake. "C'est Moi" Madra Lord is from Integrity.

The straw hat from JamieShow's "White Orchid" Gene Marshall is reshaped into a dramatic tilt taking it from casual to daytime chic. A black bow and jersey bandeau accents this stylish look. Dress and gloves are from Ashton Drake, shrug is from Robert Tonner, ooak necklace and bracelet are from StrayCat, and purse is from PD Root. "Symphony in G" Gene Marshall, enhanced with an Integrity articulated body, is from Ashton Drake.

Reshaping Miss Marshall's Straw Hat

Photo courtesy JamieShow
The hat from "White Orchid" Gene Marshall is made of pliable straw and was easy to reshape. As you will see in the following photos, the top of the original hat will become the underside of the new style. To begin, remove the original hatband.

Using my thumb, I gently pressed on one side of the crown to form a dent as shown in the above photo. The arrow indicates the new location of the back of the hat. The original red hatband left a slight mark on the straw so I covered it with a handmade paper label with the head-size. These labels were often found in vintage hats of the era. Once you are satisfied with the shape, flip your hat over. In the next two photos, you can see the finished shaping of the hat. All that is left to do is to apply the trimming. I used a pre-made bow that I recycled from another item.