Friday, February 24, 2012

Kate Meets Piers

The Duchess of Cambridge was voted 'Hat Person of the Year' by the California based Headwear Association with an apparent 91% of members voting for her.

Here wearing a hat by the incredibly talented Rose Cory (my teacher)

While I acknowledge the fact that Kate's head is often hatted and she has certainly brought hats back into the limelight I am not so sure I would have voted her hats the best, in fact her hats seem erratic in choice as if she hasn't really figured out what her hat style is yet. 

If I had a vote it would have gone to someone like Helena Bonham Carter who is both bold and playful with her hats.

Or even Rhianna who has been stepping up her millinery game of late.

I'm not even sure Kate is my favourite hat wearing Royal.  Though they will forever be known for their awful, awful choice of hats at the Royal wedding, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice don't always get it so horribly wrong and were rocking funky hats way back when Kate was still frolicking down University catwalks in see through dresses.

And my hands down favourite hatted Royal (after Queenie of course) is Sophie Countess of Wessex who has a very sleek, traditional style without being outdated. 

Possibly realising this herself it was reported this week that Kate has commissioned a hat by waaaay out there milliner Piers Atkinson.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will recognise the name as his designs always make me smile a really big smile and thus have been featured on these pages many times. The image of Kate in one of his hats however seems like an image from deep inside the acid induced yellow submarine.

Norfolk born Piers was raised by his mother, theatrical milliner Hilary Elliot which can explain some of his wierd and wonderful designs.  A relitive newbie on the scene he launched his first collection of hats in 2008 and has since collaborated with designers Ashish, Ashley Isham and Noki for runway presentations and has dressed such celebrities as Anna Dello Russo, Kate Moss, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Kelis, Cate Blanchett and Paloma Faith. The Princesses of York and Dame Shirley Basey have worn his hats at Ascot and he has had pieces in the V&A’s ‘Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones’ and ShowStudio’s exhibition ‘The CafĂ©’.

 Lady Gaga is a fan as is Paloma Faith (below)

Possibly most famous for his huge cherries on top hat worn by too many people to mention, he recently launched a similar more affordable range for Topshop.

Can't picture Kate in these?  How about one of these?

No, me neither.

I like to think that Piers is sitting in his studio right now sticking crowns on littleneon  Barbie and Ken dolls and wondering just how far he can push it.  Based on the fact that Kate is planning on wearing her creation to Leicester for the launch of the Diamond Jubilee tour I guess the answer is not very far and more likely than not Kate will be sporting a much tamer version of Piers flower range.

 Until pictures appear of the actual event however I will continue to imagine the queen been poked in the eye by a tiny pink shoe.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have recently launched new ads to coincide with the various fashion weeks happening around the world.

When I first moved to Japan I thought it was an animal loving nation as there are temples dedicated to Foxes and Tanookie (Japanese raccoon dogs) and every other girl has a Paris Hilton type rat dog hidden in their oversized bags.  However as the months started to turn colder I was completely taken aback as the shops filled up with fur.  Everything here is fur trimmed! Bags, shoes, socks, hats, coats even underwear.  Last years fashion must have was a fox or raccoon tail clipped on to your waist band or bag.  They even have fur decorations for their mobile phones.

 Fur hats being sold at the local shopping mall

 Fox/raccoon tails being sold for around 8GBP

Rabbit pelts being sold in my local fabric shop for 14GBP

When people think about fur in fashion they picture fur coats, fox stoles or rabbit fur trims but rarely do hats, (with the exception of big fluffy winter Russian style hats) come into the picture.  Before getting into millinery I too had no idea of the extent fur was used in the hat trade and I am still shocked at how many milliners out there working with fur have no idea where the fabric came from.

When I see the word felt I think wool thus sheep thus sheering thus ethical (PETA would disagree with this but having lived on a croft in Scotland and helped with the sheering each spring I see no harm done to the animals, however this may be different on bigger factory like sheep farms) Since becoming a milliner however I have found that nearly every felt hat sold is actually fur felt.

Felt used in Millinery is usually a combination of rabbit and beaver fur.  The more expensive the hat the more beaver fur it contains.  It is actually pretty hard to find a 100% wool felt hat.  The use of fur is justified by milliners as it is strong, drapes well and has a tradition dating back as far as the profession itself.

Many people justify the use of fur as they claim it is a bi product of other industries.  While this may be true for some furs (mainly Rabbit fur) I have never seen a beaver steak pie for sale in the local supermarket never mind an Arctic fox thus the question has to be a bi product of what?  Even with bi product fur however, the conditions that animals are kept in and the deaths they endure to make sure the pelt isn't damaged is in my mind unjustifiable by any means.

The PETA video below shows what is really going on in the production of fur.  The video is very disturbing but so is what is happening.

Albert Einstein said that vegetarianism was the next step in human evolution but as things stand today we are closer to Neanderthals than enlightened beings.  I can only hope that PETA steps up when Tokyo fashion week comes around.