Monday, October 12, 2015

Blog Moving

Hey guys,

At long last my new website is ready to launch and so my little blog on hats, fashion, life in Japan and general musings will be moving on to the new website here

Hope to see you guys over there.

Aka Tombo Millinery

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Year Catch Up

Happy New Year!

It's the year of the sheep here in Japan thus my first hat of the year was ram horns for the cat

It has been a year since we moved to Tokyo and to say that it is a completely different world is an understatement!  Having spent 7 years living in the rice fields/snowfields of rural Japan I was used to being one of a handful of foreigners in town and had come to accept that the majority of my customers were always going to be on the other side of the world, but Tokyo has changed everything.

For a start not only are there foreigners here but they throw lots of hat worthy parties, generally on the top floor of fancy hotels where your bum tingles with fear if you go too close to the windows.

Since arriving we have been to:

The British Chambers of Commerce Midsummer Night's Eve party

A summer BBQ held in the gardens of the Australian Embassy

The Tokyo Highland Games organised by the St Andrews Society Tokyo

A halloween Party to open the Tim Burton Art exhibition in Roppongi

Sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and attended by Mr Tim Burton himself 

The Melbourne cup Tokyo organised by the Australian Society

My Aka Tombo ladies enjoying an after race cocktail

Tiffany looking fab in her neon coral Aka Tombo number

And they are just the big parties.  Add to this lots of nice lunches, dinners and gallery openings and Niigata seems a million miles away.

I hope your 2014 was just as fun and that 2015 brings new adventures to all of us.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Any excuse for a hat - The Cocktail Party

This summer has been a weird one in Tokyo with crazy heat followed by lashings of rain with one cyclone after another swamping us in humidity.  Great for mozzies not so much for hat wearing.  That partnered with a month long visit from my mum and a spattering of visitors in-between has meant that sitting down with a needle and thread to get hats made has been a pretty irregular thing (yay to being your own boss).

To compensate I have been throwing myself in to life in Tokyo.  Moving to a new city in your mid 20-30 somethings can be hard especially when you are working from home as most new friends are made in the office, so I decided to go hunting for friends instead and joined lots of groups including the British Chambers of Commerce Japan which handily threw a big party the week after I joined to celebrate the birthday of William Shakespeare.  Yay, new friends and a reason to wear a hat.

My Titania themed flower hat and Kiichiro all kilted up

This was my first big fancy cocktail party in a Loooooong time which got me to thinking; why don't people throw cocktail parties anymore?

As a milliner I constantly hear people say; "I love hats but I have nowhere to wear one", the thinking being that hats can only be worn at weddings and the races, but I say lets start thinking of excuses to wear our hats and if we don't have anywhere to wear one then throw the party yourself. 

Cocktails parties at home are a symbol of the fifties.  Peoples houses were big enough to entertain their friends and housewives had enough time and cash to impress their mates with fancy cocktails and finger foods.

Cocktail parties were also a lot easier to organise than a full dinner party as there was less food and more people to add to the party atmosphere and help everyone mingle.

Yay to dishwashers and modern men who know how they work

The same still stands true.  A cocktail party is easy to organise, lets you get together a mix of your friends so you can finally set your sister up with the guy from your office, only lasts two hours so no chance someone can get really drunk or annoying and ruin the whole thing and you get to wear your favourite hat and sky high heels without having to worry about wind and rain killing your hat and walking home barefoot because your blisters hurt so much.  Win, win, win.  And don't worry that your friends won't be into it, set the right move from the start and everyone will have fun dressing up, even the blokes.

fun and funky

simple and chic

So where to start?  A text message telling your mates to meet at the pub at 7 is all good and well for a pint after work but for your cocktail party you want to set a classy tone from the start to get everyone in the mood.  How?  Good old fashioned invitations.

Remember a cocktail party is usually pretty small at around 20 people so invites won't break the bank but will set the mood and, by putting a dress code and finishing time on the invite, they let everyone know what to expect and what is expected of them.

Next food.

Cocktail parties aren't about impressing people with fancy recipes and stuffing them till the burst.  They are a gathering in-between meals so you only need to serve nibbles, giving nervous people something to do with their hands and those that didn't eat beforehand have something to soak up the cocktails.  Keep it simple but well presented and it will add decoration and a homely touch to your party.

Cocktail parties are named such for a reason, the cocktails.  People will expect a well stocked bar so gather up all the half bottles of stuff that linger at the back of your liquor shelf and the cocktail shaker we have all been given as a present at some point and hit up google for cocktail recipes to Wow.  Choose a signature cocktail to serve as everyone arrives or go for the classic punch bowl for a vintage vibe.

Send the invites, stock the bar, go and dust off your favourite hat and give your friends a reason to dress up.  Loads of fun, loads of laughs and hopefully your mates will pick up the baton and you will get an invite through your door soon enough giving you another reason for a new hat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Kimono and the Hat

I'm back!

Well to be honest I have been back for a week but it has taken me that long to switch out of holiday mode and get everything running again; plus I was greeted home by a flurry of hat orders which is always nice but meant that I was playing catch up.

Australia was a combination of good friends, good food, good weather and a camper van which is pretty much the recipe for the perfect holiday.  Throw in your best friend getting hitched and there isn't much left to ask for.

First off massive congrats go out to the new Mr and Mrs Smith.

Pictures by Tamara Cadd Photography

A great wedding in a really beautiful setting 2 hours out of Melbourne complete with scary spiders, kangaroos and a BBQ the day after to make it a true Ozzy experience.

The Mother of the bride was rocking an Aka Tombo hat too.

And I finally got to wear my kimono.  As I mentioned in my last post, we had filmed the kimono dresser putting me in the kimono many months ago and though we had practiced a few times since then you would never have been able to tell watching the Laurel and Hardy show that was me and my man on the morning of the wedding desperately trying to figure out how to tie the correct knots an where the masses of ties went (like all good DIY projects we had some spares at the end), but we got it!

For those of you looking closely you will notice that that is not the hat I described in my last post.  Its pretty close but with one huge difference; the lack of kanzashi flowers.  

After a month of covering myself in glue and perfecting my tweezer usage I am still rubbish at making kanzashi flowers.  All the bits are there individually and it looks like it is going really well but I seem to always fail at the last hurdle and putting all the bits together resulted in a splodgy mess.  A class is definitely required!

To make up for the lack of japanese flowers I decided to add some interest by using bits from a broken hair ornament I found months ago at an antique fair.  These hair ornaments use to be worn by geisha and were traditionally carved from beko (tortoise shell) but the worldwide bans on beko (and the cost) mean that most are now made out of plastic.  Having compared my purchase with some real beko I decided that mine was made of plastic, old plastic, but still plastic (which is what I was hoping as I don't do animal parts in fashion and I didn't want to get arrested trying to take my hat into Australia).

As geisha aren't very common anymore you are most likely to see these hair ornaments on the bride at a shinto wedding.

Or on an Aka Tombo Hat :)

The rest of the design stayed pretty much the same with a black kimono silk button base and a brach covered in flowers made from the same silk (which also helped give me some extra height as I am the shortest of my friends by about a foot).

Boy did good, the perfect Obi bow!

I know that hats aren't traditionally worn with kimono but I think hats look good with anything so viva le revolution Chapeau!

PS. In the end I didn't need the towels to fill out the kimono as it seems travelling France, Scotland and Australia in a comparatively short space of time results in eating my weight in cheese washed down in champagne.  Japanese wedding diets are amazing!