Category Archives: Vintage millinery

Exploring Construction of the Elusive Bicorne.

Analysis of Inner Structure of a Chapeau de Bras Bicorne - worn by ZiZi Bleu.

Analysis of Inner Structure of a Chapeau de Bras Bicorne – worn by ZiZi Bleu.

With gilded lips, golden soulful eyes, and her cheeks rouged blue – Zizi Bleu models a miniature toile for the inner structure of The Elusive Bicorne – or, in this case – The Elusive Chapeau de Bras.

A kind Blue Bonnet and her son, schooled in the construction of chapeaus de bras, helpfully directed my attention to the Robert J. Moore, Jr. and Michael Haynes book – Lewis and Clark:  Tailor Made, Trail Worn – Army Life, Clothing, and Weapons of the Corps of Discovery.  I saw therein a chapeau de bras, unfolded and freed to reveal the inner hat (which rests within its taco-shell-like facade).

Yet to be discovered – whether the inner cap should be cut separately, or if it is possible to cut the hat as two large pieces:  front and half-cap, back and half-cap.  According to Tailor Made, Trail Worn – the actual parts are:  crown (cap or fez), cock (front), and fan (back)… with the back “fan” crescent cut slightly taller than the front crescent.

Chapeau de Bras Interesting Fact – examining Chapeau Bras (generally from militia officers) within museum collections, average dimensions are these:  15.5-inches to 23-inches wide – lower tip to tip – and 7.5-inches to 13.5-inches from hatband to fan-peak.  (pp.168,169)

See more Zizi Bleu moments in posts at the blogs Toile La La and Art Fashion Creation.  See here a recent Art Fashion Creation post – and hat – inspired by Diana Vreeland’s eye for something-never-seen-before.

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A Chapeau de Bras of One’s Own.

Oh, how I want to create one of my own.  Any suggestions, advice, book recommendations, or chapeau de bras millinery construction diagrams would be appreciated more than anyone could ever imagine!  The collapsible chapeau de bras is foremost in the brain of mine (which I yearn to cover with one of these magnificent hats!)  But learning how to construct a bicorne would be (nearly) equally wonderful.

My goal in constructing a chapeau de bras is simply that I want to learn how (and also want to know how my round head will look beneath such a fantastically grandiose hat!)  Cosplay, Larp, and Reenactment are areas I’ve only recently studied – but I think surely there are milliners and costumers out there who might be able to help me achieve this personal millinery goal.  I love these types of discussion and always believe the comments you leave here may also benefit someone else as well.

Here’s a link to my Toile La La at Art Fashion Creation post about the splendid chapeau de bras, bicorne, and cocked hat.  Enjoy there – at Art Fashion Creation – all the great hat images, and if you too have seen Master and Commander and appreciated the hats – please leave a comment.  If you’ve made your own chapeau de bras or collapsible bicorne (or even a blocked and steamed regular bicorne), I would love to see your comments below this post – do please tell me how you constructed the spectacular thing!

1805 Chapeau de Bras or Bicorne Hat image.

1805 Chapeau de Bras or Bicorne Hat image.

Bicorne and Chapeau de Bras, Stadlinger 1856.

Bicorne and Chapeau de Bras, Stadlinger 1856.

1800 Chapeau de Bras image.  Collapsible Chapeau de Bras carried beneath the arm.

1800 Chapeau de Bras image. Collapsible Chapeau de Bras carried beneath the arm.

1831 Journal des Dames et des Modes image Chapeau de Bras or Bicorne hat.

1831 Journal des Dames et des Modes image Chapeau de Bras or Bicorne hat.

There are many more chapeau de bras, bicorne, collapsible bicorne, and cocked hat images at the Art Fashion Creation above –  third paragraph of this post.

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Dresses and Hats – more.

desktop note:

“When not in…

I am to be found at

Art Fashion Creation or

Toile La La or

Worn Written Drawn.”

but, in retrospect, here are Five dresses, hats, or dresses and hats posts:

The Mia Dress.

The Edwardian Dress.

A Klimt, Bakst, Delaunay Moment.

Headlong into Hats:  Millinery Adventures.

Head Full of Art and Hats.

Your comments, I always look forward to receiving – your suggestions, your tips… Speak Your Mind , my loves.

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The Formidably Artistic Chic of Sculptress Princess Pignatelli.

Anna Maria dei principi d’Aragona Pignatelli di Terranova di Cortes – also known as Manana (the future, or tomorrow) – jumped out of the pages of a vintage Life September 19, 1949 magazine – as I was appreciating the magazine’s impressive color-print quality.  When I saw her, I recognized the kindred soul of an artist… and a very flamboyant soul.  Spectacular!

Here she is for you to observe too.

Manana in Life magazine September 19, 1949.

Manana in Life magazine September 19, 1949.

Mysterious, Avant Garde, Bizarre… Anna Maria dei principi d’Aragona Pignatelli di Terranova di Cortes looks as if creativity emanates from her every pore.

There is more information here at this Rocaille link – which leads me to think – perhaps Manana is seated next to one of her own sculptures.

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1937 Life Cover – Veiled Lilly Dache.

Alfred Eisenstadt photo, Lilly Dache hat, Janet MacLeod model - Life magazine cover October 18, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstadt photo, Lilly Dache hat, Janet MacLeod model – Life magazine cover October 18, 1937.

Like one of the gorgeous millinery designs in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.  Read more at Art Fashion Creation.

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Divine Lady Ottoline: Interview with Ottoline Divine’s P. Gaye Tapp

See this Art Fashion Creation link for Toile La La’s interview with Patricia Gaye Tapp.

Patricia Gaye Tapp, Ottoline Divine creator / author, P. Gaye Tapp Interior Design and Decoration, Parthenia Papier.

Patricia Gaye Tapp, Ottoline Divine creator / author, P. Gaye Tapp Interior Design and Decoration, Parthenia Papier.

Providing insight into how her very creative mind works – Tapp, also creator/author of the blog Little Augury –  discusses inspiration for Little Augury, Parthenia Papier, her P. Gaye Tapp Interior Design and Decoration, and shares her fascination for English aristocrat Lady Ottoline Violet Anne Cavendish Bentinck Morrell – muse and namesake of Tapp’s blog Ottoline Divine.

Ottoline Morrell Photographed by George Charles Beresford, National Portrait Gallery - London.

Ottoline Morrell Photographed by George Charles Beresford, National Portrait Gallery – London.

Around her neck, Ottoline wore the pearls of Marie Antoinette. 

Traveler, observer, thinker, photographer, decorator – friend, muse, and patron to a host of other creative minds (including those of philosophers, poets, sculptors, artists, and authors) – Ottoline Morrell left a trail of evidence of her existence recorded through the eyes of her friends.

Now resuscitated through Tapp’s Ottoline Divine, Ottoline’s life – and influence – are free to unfold again, a century beyond her time.

To tell the story of Ottoline – “Ott, our rare bird” – Tapp uses the extensive and well-preserved historic documentation, photographs, and letters of Ottoline Morrell’s life.  Many of Ott’s friendships, according to Tapp – “resulted in published fiction”, but through Ottoline Divinethe reader gets a sense of Ottoline’s real essence.  Ottoline Divine reads like a journal or diary – as Tapp has meticulously selected every element  (even the sanguine font color) to represent the preferences of Ottoline Morrell and her era.

The interview link at the beginning of this post will transport you to that time. 

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The Eighteenth Century Calash Bonnet.

The November 2012 Vogue issue includes an interesting Bidding Farewell essay by Hamish Bowles, giving account of his love for artful objects and the process of downsizing / refining his collection via a Bonhams auction.

Bowles says: “I feel that I can confidently say that I may well have been the only nine-year-old in the country who knew what a calash was – let alone possessed one.”  We can probably agree with him.

For some time though, the calash has fascinated me with its similarity to the folding canopy of wagons of that time – and also for its similarity to hoop or crinoline skirts.  Ribbed, the calash – or caleche (“carriage” in French) – bonnet was collapsible and worn to protect elaborate, towering and / or large hairstyles of the eighteenth century.

It is interesting to note that within the same magazine is a very pretty Chanel advertisement, with a bonnet looking quite like a calash:

Image

Chanel advertisement with bonnet quite like a calash or caleche. November 2012 Vogue.

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Bob Dylan’s Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat.

Have you ever heard the song?

Dylan sings:

“Well, you must tell me baby

How your head feels under somethin like that

Under your brand new

leopard skin pill box hat

Well, you look so pretty in it

Honey, can I jump on it sometime

Yes, I just wanna see if it’s

really that expensive kind”

The lyrics are humorous. The last bit makes the hat sound a lot bigger than a pillbox hat, though: “… it balances on your head, Just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine”.

I’ve tried to imagine a really chic leopard skin hat.  However the thought of Dylan jumping up and down on a hat, testing its worth, produces a more interesting image than any leopard skin pillbox hat.

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Clever Vintage Blouse Construction…and a Grand Bell Hat: VPLL.

If fashions of the past make your heart thump a little faster, don’t miss out on Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s great design collections. Earlier in the year I’d learned of VPLL’s Titanic project, which involves recreating 1912 fashions from La Mode Illustree – a major turn-of-the-century sartorial arbiter. As a project volunteer, I test-sewed a hat, two women’s blouses, and a child’s apron.

Test-sewing the hat was an unusual experience for me – as I’d never created a hat with a wire armature. However, the Ladies’ Spring Hat depicted a frame… so I produced a small-scale practice model. As life goes, other responsibilities began to demand my time – but I still like to check VPLL’s Titanic progress… and was ecstatic to discover a new hat pattern there tonight!

Check this link to see the beautiful hat project – this time it’s a Bell Hat (much like the ones Marc Jacobs presented in his Fall 2012 Louis Vuitton collection!) You’ll see this hat is also based on a wire armature – but, using a stiffer fabric, one might avoid the necessity for the framework structure.

Louis Vuitton Fall 2012 by Marc Jacobs. Runway collections image at Vogue.com.

Now, the other thing that may excite you (especially if you sew) – is this 1912 La Mode Illustree blouse design, which is fabulously engineered so that the side-body and sleeve are in one piece. You just have to see it to understand, so don’t miss the link directly above.

Small-scale toile created to test La Mode Illustree 1912 Blouse 0219. Toile La La toile and photo.

VPLL has recently announced they have a sufficiency of volunteers, but don’t fret… you can still investigate the website to see the great work of VPLL’s testers, view vintage fashion illustrations, and look for great sewing patterns!

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Madame Agnes 1937 Zipper Hat.

Madame Agnes Millinery zipper hat. Illustration from Woman’s Home Companion October 1937 “Taken from the French” article. Scan by Toile La La.

Appearing in Woman’s Home Companion of October 1937, this hat is described by  Marjorie Howard in an article “Taken from the French”:  “…intended primarily for October weekends when you travel in a car and must curtail your luggage… a long curved strip of felt with metal slide fastenings artfully disposed along the edges. You begin at the top, slip one end of the fastening into the other and wind spirally till your hat emerges, crown, brim, and all. And it really works for I have tried it. To pack you unzip and roll the strip into a ball.” Howard continues to say she’s not sure a home-milliner could “succeed” in creating her own zipper hat as “it is pretty tricky to cut. Agnes told me that it took her three weeks of experimentation to work it out properly. The curve has to be as accurate as in an engineer’s working model.” Fascinating!

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