Top Hats are one of the most commonly recognizable style of hats and only one word describes them adequately – CLASSIC!
First worn in the late 18th century and widely popular until the mid 20th century. Unfortunately, the formality of everyday clothing styles and social events in today’s society has shifted dramatically into a less ‘formal’ scenario. Donning a full Top Hat ‘now-a-days’ is usually saved for formal occasions of nostalgia. Enter the Mini Topper. A flirty and fun piece adored by many confident fashionistos and fashionistas, while still emitting a quirky touch of class!
‘Cock your Hat, Angles are Attitudes!’ – Frank Sinatra
One of my favourite quotes and there may never be another hat that suits it as well as the Mini Topper.If allowed to pick a favourite piece in my collection – Chartreuse had grabbed a hold of me right from initial touch of my hand on the smooth Italian silk I found at a little fabric shop somewhere lost in Manhattan. I was naive – it was my first experience of being set free in the Garment District of New York City – the colours, the glitz, the sequins, the plushness, the richness, the textures, the laces…. It was a sensory overload for a Canadian girl from the West Coast. I had fallen into a material wonderland and felt all too much like the Mad Hatter with a million creations flipping through my brain.
I remember being instructed – ‘Don’t just buy material because it looks nice – you’ll go broke that way! It needs a purpose, a vision of what it will become!’. Well that little voice was quickly dampened by all the gorgeousness that surrounded me and when the very friendly sales person offered to cut some of the gorgeous Italian Silk in Chartreuse and Embroidered Sequined Lace – my mind blanked and all measurements of material I required to create my final project in class escaped me. So I asked for 5 yards – of each – a ridiculous amount for a hat of this size!
Attending class Monday morning, beyond excited with my purchases and dream of creating a stunning Mini Topper from it all – I was greeted with a smirk by Anya, an ‘oh Darling – you have NO idea of the challenges you’re about to face’ look, mixed with excited knowledge of the torture I had just created for myself…. Nothing like a good challenge – even if it comes in the form of a creating the perfect stitch or placement of a single sequin!
The hand sewn detailing on the crown of Chartreuse is my favourite part. As much as a hat can be planned out – the luxury of ‘freestyle’ and unleashing spontaneous creativity is really when the best work happens. The sequined lace detailing along the sides of the crown and underside of the brim was so elaborate that the top of the crown was just begging for some attention too! Using luxurious material such as this Italian Silk – any unplanned pin hole would damage the esthetic of the whole piece. With absolute confidence I knew that the top craved a simple, yet striking touch to complete it. The finished product is exquisite and the small simplistic detailing takes the Topper to a whole new level of sophistication! After all – it’s the little things that count!
Chartreuse was completed on the train ride home across Canada. It felt like a time traveller trip – I was carrying several hat boxes full of my newest creations, along with way too much luggage (as always!), something out of a bygone era. Sewing and taking in all the beautiful scenic views of our amazing country – a trip I’ll never forget! My most cherished moment was when an older gentleman who worked on the train approached me a said ‘Excuse me Miss, but it’s been years since I’ve seen a lady carrying hat boxes on the train. Thank you for making me relive so many wonderful memories just now’. He assisted me in unloading my luggage off the train and said ‘The world needs just a touch of the old class it used possess and people like you will help to keep it alive’. So there I was – standing on the train platform in Jasper – freezing cold – but with a very warm heart!
Upon arriving home – I realized that I had nothing suitable to wear with Chartreuse – just a TON of left over fabric from NY (I knew there was a reason why I purchased so much!). So, I spent two weeks with my Granny learning to sew clothing… she is one of the amazing seamstresses who used to create stage costumes for the performance productions that were hosted at the world famous Butchart Gardens years ago. The time spent together creating a design I drew out, was one of the most incredible experiences of my life – witnessing how nimble her fingers and how quickly they remembered the art she had created for so many years! I will treasure that time for all of eternity! So yes – Chartreuse just may be my favourite because of all the wonderful ‘moments’ that are sewn into it’s soul.