LET ME TELL YOU A STORY ABOUT A 1950s COCKTAIL HAT
As part of the process I sometimes look for vintage hats hoping for a spark of creative inspiration. This collection was no different and while looking for swipe (pictures for the mood board), I found a delightful 1950s wire frame cocktail hat on Etsy. It was a perfect treat with cherries on top. After much internal debate (I can’t buy every hat I see), I decided to purchase the vintage 1950s cocktail hat so I could see how it was made.
The wire frame was really appealing. It was made using traditional millinery techniques and I had a basic enough knowledge of making a wire frame hat to be dangerous. My plan was to look at the 1950s cocktail hat, every day, until something popped into my head. What would the frame look like? How could I make the cherries? What materials could I use? Perhaps this isn’t the process that Philip Treacy uses but it works for me.
While the hat was on my bench, a friend picked it up, tried it on and remarked that her mother had a similar one which was quite the rage at the time. I don’t know if that helped motivate me, (it was easy enough for loads of milliners to make) or scared the crap out of me (not another cherry hat!) After several weeks, I finally plucked up the courage to attempt the frame. The wire was covered in green fabric and I didn’t want to take it all apart because that would destroy the hat. After much twisting and finger tracing I discovered the secret was making it as one piece as you can see below.
It ALL starts with the wire frame
Next on the list was to tackle were the cherries. The vintage 1950s cocktail hat had little cherries as trim. I looked through some florist suppliers without much luck. Unfortunately, many of the millinery suppliers of yesteryear are no longer in business and a lot of trims today are made from plastic and feel cheap. When I found something that felt elegant, it wasn’t the right size. Unwilling to despair, I kept the hat on my bench, looked at it every day waiting for inspiration.
Suddenly, there on the bench arose such a clatter, I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter. Sorry that’s a rip on “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” but I like how it conveys the moment that inspiration hit. In slow motion, it kinda goes like: cherries…round…red…different sizes…jewelry…beads…glass beads…hmmm…that could work.
You see how the process happens??
Once I had all the materials, I worked on the elements like an assembly line. Pick up bead, attach wire, cut thread, wrap over wire, secure ends, cut, done… Okay so it took me 5-10 minutes to make one cherry and I needed 50 glass cherries in different sizes. OH BOY, this was going to take a while.
How many of these do I have to make?
AND SUDDENLY EVERYTHING STARTED COMING TOGETHER
I had a clear idea for the cocktail hat and could see what it would look like. My fingers started worked by memory, wrapping the frame, making the leaves, sewing and attaching everything. A tweak here, a modification there and before I knew it…voila!