Sunday, May 17, 2009

Charleston Style Swap--Full of Fashion Folks

Last Thursday I drove down to Charleston, SC, for one of the Style Swaps aMuse: artisanal finery helps sponsor with Jess James. Luckily, I had fashion designer Amanda de Leon riding with me, and we had 3+ hours to talk fashion, fashion, fashion. Charleston has become a hotbed of fashion and style in the last few years, and it is one of my favorite cities for great shopping, history, and food besides. Always thrilled to spend some time there and this was an even more exciting trip due to the anticipation of the first Style Swap there. We weren't disappointed!

Above is a wide view of the fashionistas 'tagging' the items they want to win. There is a frantic rustling of hangers to find the most coveted items of the evening. Of course, one can always tag the designer items that are donated too. More about that later.

Above are Rachel McPherson (Style Swap Develpment), Ayoka Lucas (Style Editor with Charleston Magazine and Creative Director of Charleston Fashion Week), and Jess James (Founder of Style Swap).

On the left is Archie Burkel, Founder and President of The Hat Ladies of Charleston. If you are unfamiliar with the organization, please check them out. They believe in two tenents: you must want to give back to your community, and you must do it in a fashionable hat! Can't beat that, can you? Archie is a lovely lady and I was so pleased she came to the first Charleston Style Swap. We met several years ago and it was so good to see her again. You can't miss her...she ALWAYS wears a hat.

For the most sought after items, those tagged many, many times, the most fair and fun way to choose a winner is through a round of musical chairs. As the music comes up there's a dance line 'round the chairs, everyone having a blast and as the music ends, yes, there's a dash for the winning seat! A hoot to watch...and participate in. The designer items are always hot items!

At right is fashion designer Mary Porter of Mary Porter House of Couture on King Street. She specializes in creating special occasion, bridal, suits, and dresses. She donated a fabulous black dress to the event. One that many wanted...and one took home.

Above is Amanda de Leon, wearing one of her designs, made of screen! It was to die for! On her head is a 1920's inspired metallic lace headband, one of mine.

Ahhh, and here is Amanda's donation for the evening. A slick (literally and figuratively) black swimsuit. Very high-waisted boy pants and a one-shouldered top. Stunning without being too revealing. Loved it! So did the winner!!!

Here's the lovely lady who won the item I donated, a natural sinamay free-form styled headband with yellow, green, orange, and purple coquilles, plus some matching beading.

I very much hope that we will be able to go back to Charleston soon! Besides, they are truly a hat-wearing town. After my heart!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There's Fashion and Then There's Fashion

What a whirlwind weekend of fashion! I spent Saturday morning at the shop--my usual--but the afternoon and evening were spent talking about hats at a local African American church's annual Mother/Daughter tea, and at a local fashion show featuring up and coming designers.

The following pictures are of the fashion show, sponsored by local groovy shop, Edge of Urge and the proprietress, Jessie Williams, a designer in her own right. All was to benefit Dreams, a local organization that provides access to the arts for 'at risk' kids.

Me and my little free-form styled black sinamay headband, embellished with yellow stripped coques and an itty-bitty sprig of vintage yellow veiling.

Ooooooo. Local designer Alexa Castillo did some great fashions for the runway, but I really liked her bikinis. Of course, having gorgeous models with legs up to HERE doesn't hurt either.

Nice touch with the opera gloves!

Alexa on her celebratory walk down the runway.

Above and below are styles created by Jessie Williams, the owner of Edge of Urge. If you are ever in Wilmington you must go there. Great shop! Anything from great clothes, to hip jewelry, shoes, and even some of the best candles, with some of the most unusual scents, that you'll find anywhere. One of my step-daughters swears by them!

I had the privilege of speaking to the ladies of Johnson Chapel in Leland on Saturday afternoon. In honor of Mother's Day they had their annual tea, with hats, gloves, crystal, finger sandwiches, sweet cakes, and some sharp dressed men serving tea.
My presentation was entitled, "Hats Matter, Not Mad Hatters." It focuses on how hats have been been a part of our culture, our social fabric, and how they have and do make a difference to those who wear them. It also includes a tribute to present day milliners and hat-wearing organizations who offer their skills, their time and their money to better the lives of others--all through hats!

I wish I knew the names of these hat-wearing ladies. The lady above is the Mother of the Church at Johnson Chapel. Isn't she elegant?

She didn't want me to take her picture, but I insisted. She made her mother look through her 50 or so hats to find this one she wanted to wear to the tea!

And this is her Mother, beautiful in her hat, pearls, and gloves. A lady at tea....

Reverend Mapson, the chaplain at Johnson Chapel. Thank you, ladies, for a delightful afternoon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Style Swap--Raleigh--Feather Headpieces

Last week I drove up to Raleigh, NC, to participate in the first Style Swap in that area. Jess James, Style Girl, puts these on and they are incredibly fun. Here in Wilmington they have become so popular it is hard to get in!

What is a 'style swap' you ask? Well, simply put, it is a fun night of swapping clothes and accessories with other fashionistas. You bring 3 items that are still stylish and wearable, and trade them for 3 items someone else dragged out of their closet. Held in upscale bars or lounges, with great music, photographers, and make-up artists mixing it all up with some great munchies and cheap drinks at the bar, all while you find great deals on the racks--anything from coveted designer labels to classy vintage pieces.

Check out Jess' Style Swap website to find out more. We will be in Charleston, SC, on May 14, so if you live in that area, please come by for some recessionista finds. I'm one of the sponsors of the Style Swaps and will be in Charleston to promote aMuse and the hats and headpieces I make.

This is a picture of Rachel McPherson, the Developmental guru behind the Style Swaps. Rachel is wearing one of my hats--a black satin cocktail hat with vintage rhinestone buttons and super vintage Russian veiling. You look beautiful, Rachel!

A pretty trio of Style Ambassadors wearing feather headpieces I've made for them to wear during the Swap. Kinda identifies them as being helpers at the Swap...there to help you find the perfect swap items to take home.

Three more beauties! From left to right they are wearing: a headband of peacock feathers, a free-form sinamay headband wrap embellished with coquilles and beading, and a fascinator of black sewn braid, purple feathers and lavendar Russian veiling.
Thanks for showing off my headpieces to their best advantage ladies!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kentucky Derby Hats

How many of you attended a Kentucky Derby event? Or were lucky enough to actually go? I made quite a few hats that were worn at Churchill Downs and about as many that went to Derby events--both public and private.

In Wilmington there were at least two public events to attend--the Junior League of Wilmington sponsored an event at Poplar Grove Plantation and there was another at our historic Thalian Hall. I attended the Jr. League event as I had made several hats for that event and besides, it was also a charity event. Having fun, dressing up, and contributing to a special cause...can't beat that.

That's my handsome husband Michael and me in our Derby attire. I not only made my own hat (of course) but Michael's fedora as well. It was a surprise! He has been after me for months to make him a hat. I always say I don't make men's hat. Well, I don't really, but I have just been given (given!) about 16 vintage hatblocks and the vast majority of them are these variations on a pinched crown. So I used one to make Michael's hat and surprised him the day before the Derby!

The lady on the left looked killer in her outfit! She wore this fabulous buttery yellow linen dress and one of the new huge wired brimmed hats I'm seeing everywhere. The cool thing about these hats is that you can bend and bend and re-bend the brims to all kinds of shapes. She has her's pulled up tight in front with a huge lovely burgandy rose. Everyone was telling her how great she looked!

This is one of my customers--Katharine--in her double brimmed parisisal. The bottom brim, and crown, are a rich tobacco and the upper brim is a soft blush tone. I've randomly stitched them together with black thread and fringed the edges. The embellishments were distressed black horsehair, emu feathers, and a sweep of bleached peacock feathers off the back. Huge brim full of goodies.

Another of the hats I made for my friend and customer--Virginia. Her black broad brimmed parisisal was trimmed with a tutu of red tulle (blown all over here) and a knot of handmade white silk roses and buds. Wish I had a better picture of the tutu of tulle as it reached to the edge of the brim and made a very pretty little skirt for the hat.

That's my friend Gloria on the left and Style Girl (and friend) Jess James on the right. Jess was there making pictures for the press. She had on a beautiful vintage lace dress and one of the most spectacular vintage hats I've ever seen of pleated petersham over a buckram base. You can't see it but the entire hat is covered with intricate pleating. Something to aspire to learning.

Katharine and me bumping brims! I'll see if I can find a better picture of my hat. It was a HUGE brimmed sisal straw, of hot pink, with a HUGE bow of heavily veined yellow Russian veiling and and even bigger (9" across) handmade yellow rose. The brim was pulled up on the right back and a drape of the vintage veiling off the left edge of the my shoulder.

Crowd shot. Really liked the black and white on the left. And isn't the parasol a nice touch?

OK. Here was the winner of the Best Hat Contest.
I hope YOU are finding hat wearing events this Spring. Have a blast!