Through the ages, hats for women have been both a necessity (to keep warm) and a mere fun accessory. Milliners (mostly women) have been creating hats and bonnets with style and flare for centuries. But did you know that the term "milliner" originated in Milan, Italy, where many of the finest straw hats and hat forms were made during the 1700s?
A few years ago, I met a young woman working as a receptionist in Victoria but designing hats on the side. It was her dream to become a milliner of note.
Tierre Taylor moved to Toronto where there was more opportunity to realize her dream. On a trip to New York one day in 2015 (wearing one of her own creations), she was spotted by a newspaper reporter who ran a story about her . . . the rest is history. She now has her own business and is catering to women of all ranks in life. People love her hats, and it is obvious that hats have not gone out of fashion. You can also find her on Facebook. Take a look at those gorgeous hats.
The woman protagonist in my upcoming novel, Providence, probably wore many hats from the 1840s to the year 1945. Even in the orphanage where she grew up, she would have worn a cap. When she worked in service as a maid, it would have been a small white lace arrangement. Later when she was the chatelaine of a large house, her hats would have ranged from smart to ornate, many with feathers to adorn them, perhaps similar to the one above.
Other famous women during those years are pictured here:
Let us not forget the hats worn by gentlemen . . .
There might be a revival in hats. Women are wearing them more now at weddings, and the hats of my little milliner friend in Toronto who realized her dream are becoming more and more popular.
What goes around comes around.
I'm thrilled to be attending renowned fashion expert Ivan Sayers’s fashion show "A Century of Fashion" this coming Sunday in Victoria. I hope to learn a lot and take some photos.
One of the myths about Victorian women is that they always laced themselves in tight corsets to have fashionable narrow, elongated bodies (remember the image of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind being laced up by Mamie so that her waistline would measure only 18 inches?)
In reality, most women in that era wore their daily corsets more for necessity, and women rarely "swooned" away. In addition, corsets were not only a fashion statement. They were believed to be good for a healthful posture and to keep internal organs in alignment! The rumor of Victorian women actually having a rib or two removed in order to slim the waistline is simply not true. Thank heaven!
I await Mr. Sayers’s observations.
The fashion show was spectacular. Ivan Sayers did not disappoint. His two-hour talk was full of humor and wonderful stories and details. Sadly, no photographs were allowed.
Mr. Sayers began by “dressing” a model on stage from under slip to elegant Victorian gown, explaining what each item was used for—under slips, bust enhancers, etc.—and how they were worn.
For instance, if corsets were laced up in the back, it meant the lady was assisted by a maid. If, on the other hand, she had to dress herself, the corset would lace up the front.
He continued from the turn of the 19th century Victorian costumes through the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The models showed off their dresses of exceptional material and color while Mr. Sayers explained how fashion through the decades was largely dictated by what was happening in the world.
For example, we experienced loose flapper styles in the 1920s (when everyone was happy and blasé after the war), more practical clothing during WWII, and then in the late 1940s, Christian Dior brought back femininity and the hourglass figure in his “New Look.”
Of course, it wasn’t long before the mini-skirt arrived on the scene, reflecting the free-love, revolutionary decade of the ’60s.
Sayers’s collection (which he has accumulated throughout his life and is still growing) is exceptional. If he has a show in your area, don't miss it. Check out his website for upcoming events in 2018.