Making a Mini Top Hat
The sunny days that have touched London last week have encouraged me to create a Mini Top Hat 🎩 in sinamay (a type of 'straw' made from abaca tree leaves, a kind of banana tree). 🍃
It is the first time I use it for a hat and I am really happy of the result. I would love to go out and show it off!!
I think it'd be nice to wear it at a wedding, even white for brides. What do you think?
Next days I'm going to make one mini Top Hat for a Bride in colour cream for a stylish contemporary with a vintage touch 👰
What I do at millinery college
I know you are all curious to know what I am doing at millinery college. From now on I'll publish here some drawings and work-in-progress.
I am not sure if I can publish my final collection of felt and straw hats because I'll have the assessments in June at the end of the course. Anyway, I'll check with my tutor and let you know.
In the meantime, I give some hints. These are the first drawings to exercise a bit. They are NOT my collection, they are some brainstorming ideas based on Spring Summer 21 collections of designers during September catwalks, here specifically I developed drawings based on the American designer Christian Siriano.
I'm back to school!
My silence last weeks has a reason.
In September I've been accepted in the Millinery Fashion Design course at Kensington&Chelsea College in London!! 💯🌟💛
As some of you already know, during the first lockdown in spring 2020 I came across a Hat design challenge on Facebook.
I was at home with no job, recovering from an operation and trying to design some fine jewellery for a new portfolio with the intention in the future (but when..?) to find a job as a jewellery designer. Soooo difficult in normal times, today more&more.
The hat challenge came as fresh air for my creativity 💥 boom!
I could design colours, and feathers, and weird shapes... oh gosh! Such a relieve and a complete freedom in tracing bold lines! I bought some scrap materials online and started to play creating small cute witty fascinators and headpieces in recycled materials.
I started to love millinery!
The broad choice of materials and shapes captured me. But what I like best is seeing my friends laughing girlish when wearing hats.
We need a light heart these times and We deserve a cute well designed hat for our future challenges!
Follow me, my thoughts and my experiments!
It's going to be fun!
Below the K&C college, some millinery tools and a prototype
restyling an old hat (2)
Another visit to a charity shop....I found this emerald green hat, clearly made by hand some years ago. Unfortunately it doesn't fit properly, there are clearly few mistakes. BUT I loved the texture of the straw, very soft to touch, not to mention the beautiful colour! 💯
As soon as I've seen it, I knew how to restyle it. The inspiration has been the colour, 'Emerald' like the stone of the famous 1985 movie 'Romancing the Stone': the jungle and the typical explorer straw hat 🤠 were my starting points .
I started making a fedora block in carpenter foam to give the straw the proper shape. For the lining below the brim, I used the sinamay lace from the other black vintage hat (see restyling an old hat 1). The final touch of creativity is the snake as a decoration to replace the classic ribbon. It's made from a scrap I cut around the brim, I rolled it up in the shape of a snake, remodelled the head and embroidered the two eyes with golden thread.
I really like the result! SO FUN! I'm looking forward to wear it next summer.
Actually I am going to use the idea of the snake, decorated as a jewel with golden thread and coloured stones....well, I worked at Bulgari few years ago, and Serpenti was one of my favourite collection! 🐍🐍🐍🐍
upcycle old jeans and make roses
It's still lockdown and my dear charity shops are closed. I therefore asked some friends to give me clothes they don't wear anymore. I received a pair of jeans in a very soft denim. I liked the texture and started to play and make small roses.
From a scrap of a straw blue hat I made a percher (a sort of small hat) and decorated with these denim roses. Aren't they cute?
You have already noticed I don't like the typical trimmings full of flowers, feathers and colours. I prefer to stay minimal but stylish, romantic but contemporary.
I asked the beautiful teen daughter of an Italian friend of mine to wear it, the result is astonishing!
In which occasion would you wear it?
Work-in-progress of my idea of bridal headpiece 🕊 in my corner studio in South West London (yes it's July and it's raining!)
...SUSTAINABLE & UPCYCLING are the Key words of this work...
I deeply in love with this idea of mine 😉
💕I see a bride wearing my headpiece in upcycling milk plastic bottle matching a beautiful wedding dress made out of ethical sustainable fabric in a romantic rural environment.
restyling an old hat (1)
My hobby is hunting treasures for few pounds in charity shops here in London. I always joke when I say that they reason why I moved to London is because of the charity shops! I always throw a quick glance in a new area to check if they are of a good level. I can say I have a good map now and I know where I can find bargains and good quality.
Of course, ça va sans dire during lockdown I was counting the days left to their opening and the 4th August sharp as a Swiss clock I went to my nearest and most favourite shop. I found a bargain and for 1 pound I took home this industrial black hat in 90s style: the crown is the Queen's favourite, that odd rigid shape, to be used in formal occasions as weddings for examples.
I was ready to start my first restyling and I really enjoy it!
I love Deconstruction ÷ Reconstruction !
I didn't know what to do, I started to unstitch every piece of the hat: the crown that's the top of the hat, the brim, and the trimming that's the decoration, and kept aside the beautiful black greenish feathers.
I washed all the parts, then play with them on my head to understand what I'd prefer. My purpose was to mantain my personal design view: contemporary, minimalist and stylish.
Firstly I reshaped the crown in the bowler style (i love the men hat designs), i put the brim upside down in a more flexible line, then I stitched the feathers around the head and used a black scrap I bought months ago from a milliner, then I embroidered a wing in gold thread.
I am very satisfied of the final result! More for everyday use, creative and personalised.
Interested in restyling your old hat? Ask me 🤩 I'd love to find new solutions!!
Wings. Only recently I realised I started to make wings from the beginning of my design studies.
This object in iron wire and pebbles from he Barcelona beach is the very first one I made at the London Guildhall University the first few months of jewelry design 20 years ago!
This long period of time impress me! However, I am even more impressed by 'discovering' that I've already had my personal symbol before starting to design jewelry... and I had never noticed it!
A few days ago I opened the boxes where I keep all the objects I made from my first jewelry studies, feathers and wings are a constant. But how had I never noticed?
I am particularly happy because today my new wings are finally free, they are white, they are soft as silk, they move with a blow, they have small feathers and pearls.
Years ago, in a period of great despair, a good doctor told me that I had a great fortune: my art. She didn't give me drugs, she just recommended a healthy diet, a bit of yoga, but primarily a positive focus on my talent.
Creating gives me immense joy, freedom and emotions that make me feel good in the world. And it took me 20 years to release those white wings, now as never before I’m fully satisfied with what I am creating these months. 🕊🕊🕊
ideas to trim your hat (1)
A friend gave me this elegant hat by Zara, classic ecru color and black band. Of course I HAD to change something and give my personal touch!
This is an easy idea on how to decorate it. If you are a minimalist like me and you want something special but not too frilly, look at what I did.
I added few Vienna-type straw circles I cut from a very old hat I had in my drawer and never worn. I slipped a ribbon taken from the handles of a paper shopping bag into the holes, two stitches of needle and thread et voila!
Upcycling is too fashionable and so easy! 💯👌
I wear it with a simple black t-shirt and my mum's vintage 80s necklace, when the Bulgari tubes style was in vogue!!
hats like brooches?
Millinery as a piece of jewelry. 👑
A friend called my small hats 'brooches for the head'. And probably she's got a reason since my creativity in hats is more into the smaller versions: fascinators and perchers.
I love small, minimal and detailed... as my jewelry!
This is a fascinator with a blue straw base and yellow/light blue lilies decorated with two small feathers to play down the formality of wearing a hat.
Would you wear these very small headpieces? in which occasion?
in my journal I tell you the stories of my design research and inspiration.