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XTerrace London Hat Week Competition

I think it’s always important to keep your eye out for competitions, no matter what discipline you come from in the industry. I know, for me, they challenge me to keep thinking outside the box and I always think ‘why not’! XTerrace is an online fashion platform, linking designers to freelance jobs and companies around the world. It is also one of the few platforms that recognise millinery as a stand-alone design practice and offers lots of opportunities linking with London Hat Week. This year’s competition offers cash and equipment prizes as well as having the potential to show at London Hat Week. I have copied the brief below to give everything a bit of context.

The year 2020 has always seemed fictional when it was mentioned, but now we are at this point of time, we would like to invite hat lovers to time travel to the future and back with your creativity in hat design. We are introducing a dual “future” and “retro”themed London Hat Week exhibition this year.

A. “Future” theme – we invite milliners from around the world to craft hats which show us their vision of the future in their hat designs, whether it’s inspired by space travel, virtual or imagined world, sci-fi movies, or made of environmentally friendly, high technology, non-traditional materials, by a 3D printer, or in fluid, in out of the world shapes. We invite you to go wild with your imagination!

B. “Retro” theme – we invite milliners to time travel to the past to show the glorious eras when people wore a lot of beautiful hats, you could choose to use vintage fabrics, recycled felt or accessories, or you could try to re-create the elegant shapes and lovely details that have disappeared from the fashion and millinery scenes since 1920’s – 1960’s. We invite you to reflect and recall the beautiful moments in your mind!

I have chosen to design for the ‘future’ theme as I felt it spoke to me a little more. I wanted more of a Sci-Fi element, rather than designing for a specific future time or place. I had an image of an Empress or Queen in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity had banded together into one State. Possibly even a representative of Earth in a fantasy UN of the Planets (very much a Queen Amidala figure). I took inspiration from the past, the future and sci-fi by looking at Queens, Futuristic Landscapes and Architecture.

Moodboard and Initial Designs

I wanted her to feel regal and poignant with a crown that represented the bringing together of cultures and histories. I know the easiest style to fall into with Post-Apocalyptic is this dirty, rusty ‘Mad Max’ aesthetic. Although this can be stunning, I know just thinking logically, that we look after our Crown Jewels across the globe so why would we stop doing that? The back story of this piece is that over time, pieces of Crown Jewels have been collected and pieced together to form one Crown. One headpiece that represents the coming together of Earth. Without time, without place.

To create my piece, I started with a Fosshape base (a felt-like thermoplastic that can be sewn then heated until it stays firm). I then shaved off any excess fibres and layered gold and silver spray paint. I then used pieces of broken jewellery, brooches and metal/glass beads to layer up over the headpiece. I added wire details and gold thread embroidery until I was happy. I knew I wanted something highly decorative and detailed because the base shape was simple and striking so I really went to town hand-sewing all these pieces on. I wanted to keep a basic colour story so it didn’t look messy and I stayed away from any plastic beads to keep that expensive-looking finish.

Initially, I had wanted some form of veiling or cascading fabric to fall around the body. However, as I got closer to the end of the making process, I felt all the surface texture had brought a fairly simple shape to life and I didn’t want to hide all the embroidery work. I am happy with this edit as I have really fallen in love with the intricate detailing and the dimension it has brought to the piece.

As the piece became heavier, I reinforced the structure with a second inner layer of blocked fosshape with a wired edge. I then created a Satin Dupion lining complete with a metal headband and comb to finish the piece off. I lined the top interior the same way.

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