Gatsby 1920s black Feathered Headband Commission


The 1920’s were an exciting time for headwear, they gave us intricate headbands, art deco tiaras and the ever popular closh. It’s no wonder that the glamorisation of the 1920’s wild parties and fun adventures has allowed the era to maintain its opulent influence over fashion today. Literature and film really keep the style of the era alive.  Television and film in particular have kept our love affair alive over the decades with such features as Bonnie and Clyde (1960s), Bugsy Malone (1970s), The Cotton Club (1980’s), House of Eliott (1990’s) (I often find myself wondering what the Eliott sisters would do), Downton Abby (2010), and my particular favourite for authentic 1920’s style and atmosphere: Boardwalk Empire (2010). These titles are just from the top off my head, there are plenty more to fuel our adoration of 1920’s style. Arguably one of the most influential stories responsible for championing the roaring 1920’s style is F. Scott Fitzgerald’sThe Great Gatsby. Originally released in 1925 the first film was made in 1926, followed by 1949, 1974, and 2013 versions. I have no doubt the Great Gatsby will be reproduced in future decades, keeping 1920’s style admiration alive.




The opulent glamour of the Gatsby tale is massively appealing and it is no wonder that it is a fantastic theme for a costume party. I was very excited recently when someone got in touch with me and asked me to design and make a headpiece for her to wear to a Gatsby themed party. She had originally seen the piece that I had made back in 2003 for my own 1920’s costume party (see here), and really wanted a piece that was completely black but still had sparkle. After some initial sketches we decided on a classic black band with feather detail at the front. She had really wanted to add some beaded details at the front to create a ‘princess’ style so I strung a selection of faceted beads (for maximum sparkle!) and draped them across the front of the band. It is worth knowing that my mannequin heads are smaller than a human head so the beads sit just above the eye on a person.



It was also requested that the feather part of the piece could be detachable so that it could be worn separately on other occasions. I love it when customers ask for pieces to have dual functionality. Not only is it a fun challenge for me, but I know that the piece will be worn more and the customer receives more for their investment. For example this piece is essentially three different pieces; it can be worn as a black beaded band alone, as a feather clip or as the complete feather band.   



My customer had mentioned to me initially that she love sparkle and black lace, so I made sure both were incorporated into the design. I used a black applique piece of lace at the front of the feathered part and use as many Swarovski and faceted beads that I could which created a beautiful shimmer of sparkle as the piece moved.  


It was the customer’s preference to have the band elasticated, so I added some beads next to the elastic to echo art deco lines and add some interest to the back of the piece.    



The beauty of using a headpiece to define your costume is that you can wear contemporary clothes and let the headpiece do the talking! In this instance the customer was planning the wear a simple contemporary maxi dress with 1920’s influence, so she was able to wear an intricate headpiece to set the tone of her look.  

I welcome your costume enquiries, afterall a bespoke costume headpiece is true Gatsby style!



Branston Pickle Ascot Commission

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Earlier this month I was asked by a creative agency to design and make a Branston Pickle themed hat to be worn at Royal Ascot Ladies Day.

To give you a little insight into the processes that are involved in creating such a hat, I took a few snaps along the way.




The agency chose this design out of a selection so I set to work.




I blocked the hat with sinamay and hand carved the jar and pickle structure. 



I then painted the detail onto the jar and pickle. I made sure to paint slight pickle detail and the reflection of the glass jar to increase the realism. It was then varnished. I hand painted some cream duchess satin with a red gingham check to cover the hat base and worked on the slice of bread.    

It was then time to put the structure together, adding a ribbon lettuce and slice of cheese along the way!

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This is of course a very simplified version of all the work that created the hat but it was certainly all worth it to hear such wonderful feedback from the creative agency. 



Fashion Front Row Catwalk @ NE1's Fashion Futures 2015

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I was so happy to be involved in the organisation of yet another successful Fashion Front Row catwalk show. This year the catwalk show showed off nineteen North East designer’s collections and The Libertarian was lucky enough to show alongside the likes of Dayne Henderson, Tallulah Love Lingerie and Scott Henshall.

The catwalk, now in its fifth year, has evolved into one of the North Easts main fashion showcases for local designers and is a pleasure to be involved with. It is now part of NE1's Fashion Futures and took place at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. 

Here are some of The Libertarian’s hats on the catwalk. All pieces are now available to hire.   


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Chess Board Hat. Model: Louise Herron, Photography: Christopher RD

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Chess Board Hat. Model: Louise Herron, Photography: Peter Alan Reed

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Hand Painted Portrait Hat. Model: Cindy Nicoll, Photographer: Christopher RD

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Hand Painted Portrait Hat. Model: Cindy Nicoll, Photography: Peter Alan Reed

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Burger Hat. Model: Stephanie Grieve, Photography: Peter Alan Reed

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Peacock and Pheasant Saucer Hat. Model: Katy O’Brien, Photography: Peter Alan Reed

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Dart Board Hat. Model: Sophie Gilmour, Photography: Peter Alan Reed

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The Team! Backstage before the show. Photography: Idene Roozbayani 


Catwalk Credits:

Make up by BareMinerals
Hair by Zanders Hair Design


One Hundred Years Of Hats

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I had the exciting opportunity yesterday to see some rare hats from a costume historian’s private collection. Meridith Towne is a costume historian and dressmaker, and gave a wonderful insight into the history of the hat at her talk: “One Hundred Years of Hats” (1860-1960) at Middlesbrough Library last night.


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The Newark based historian has such enthusiasm about the subject, I was given the impression that the talk only slightly touched on her comprehensive knowledge.


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1344","attributes":{"alt":"British Edwardian and Victorian antique Hat Pins","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Edwardian Hat Pins","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]Above: Edwardian Hat pins; a handy weapon for ladies at the time


I was amazed to see some pieces have only seen in books and museums such as this wired hood that would protect straw bonnets.


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1334","attributes":{"alt":"British antque wired Victorian Bonnet Hood for keeping bonnets dry ","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Victorian Bonnet Hood","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]Above: Victorian bonnet protector


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1336","attributes":{"alt":"British Victorian Bonnet Cap with lace trim ","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Victorian Bonnet Cap","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"657"}}]]Above: Victorian Bonnet Cap


Meridith kindly allowed everyone to take photographs and even try on some of the hats at the end of her talk, so I’d certainly recommend attending one of her future talks.   


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1337","attributes":{"alt":"Velvet Victorian perching hat in blue, antique millinery ","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Victorian perching hat","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]Above: Late Victorian velvet hat


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[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1339","attributes":{"alt":"Bristish Late Victorian Bonnet with lace frill","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Late Victorian Bonnet","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]Above: Late Victorian Bonnet


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[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1342","attributes":{"alt":"Edwardian ladies hat typical of the First World War Fashions","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"First World War Ladies Hat","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"600"}}]]Above: Edwardian First World War Ladies Hat


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My favourite piece from the evening was this 1930's wide brimmed straw hat trimmed with hand-made flowers- delicious! 

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Above: 1930's Straw Hat 


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Lastly I couldn't not mention the adorable little hats that cupcake baker "Tilly's Creative Cupcakes" made for the evening. Which meant everyone happily ate their own hats.



Victorian Riding Hat

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I had the very exciting job of creating this Victorian style felt riding hat for Rebecca to wear at this year's Equifest


The perching navy felt hat has a full birdcage veil, a train at the back, velevet ribbon tie and hand dyed feathers.


Rebecca is an incredible designer and maker of Concours de elegances costumes and she of course made her own dress. To find out more about Rebecca click here >>>  


Her beautiful horse Duds, is wearing a coordianting browband by Charleys Browbands.  


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What a team!



TICE students create corsets for Libertarian Hats


Talented students from this years TICE scheme have created a set of beautiful corsets based on four of the Libertarian Hats.

They used the magpie, teapot, pile of cakes and Eiffel tower hats as starting points to design and make these coordinating outfits.

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TICE (This is Creative Enterprise) is a “non-profit organisation dedicated to support young students in exploring the creative sector in regards to career prospects and/or the choices in vocational and academic pathways.”

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Textile, craft and design artist, Charlotte Liddle, lead the group of young students and I am really impressed with the results.

It has been a great project to be involved with and I wish all the budding designers luck with their future.


Well done everyone!


Ascot Ladies Day 2014- A Painterly Affair

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This year was my fifth year at Royal Ascot Ladies Day and was certainly one of my favourites. I opted for a ‘hand painted portrait’ theme for my set of hats and as always, they went down a treat with the press and the fellow hat lovers in attendance.

I was particularly happy with the new shapes of the hats that I created and I plan to work on some more (less decorative!) pieces along these lines.

Here is my photographic tour of our day with some of my favourite press clippings. 


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Arriving at Royal Ascot. This year we were stopped by so many photographs, it took an hour to reach the actual gate! 


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Once finally making it into the Grandstand, another hour was spent satisfying the requests of the press photographers and journalists.


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Five of us manage to get a quick snap for ourselves. Every hat featured at least three straight edges as the shape of a canvas would morphing into a hat. 


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You can catch a snippet of the above interview here >>> 


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Each hat had accenting paint brushes splodged into dollops of vibrant paint. I created drips of paint falling from the brims and even added little tubes of paint.

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Constance Peach featured in Grazia's coverage of Ascot ladies day waering The Libertarian's fascinator



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Constance Peach featured in The Daily Mail newspapers Ascot coverage wearing The Libertarian's fascinator 


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Sandra Tang manages to catch a selfie with the press. You can see Sandra's blog about the day here and her street style blog of the day here 


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Angela Tinkler poses for the camera wearing a Libertarian Hat. I hand painted all of the portraits on to my hats by hand.


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The Libertarian hats make it into MSN's top ten images of the week 


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An abstract shot of the hats in situ 


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Constance Peach featured in Vogue Italia's coverage of Royal Ascot 


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My Mandatory shot of a crowd of hats


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To see the hats in action, click on the image above 


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The press looking to get a photos of the Royal box



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The Queen watching the Gold Cup Race from her private Royal box




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Hope you have enjoyed the photographs, it was certainly another memorable year and a very special experience.

We had some wins, some laughs and even a new romance was born!



Kate's Organza Circle Bridal Veil

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I recently created this organza ribbon edged Ivory veil commission for bride Kate to wear on her wedding day.


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Kate came to me with quite a specific idea of what she wanted to go with her 1950’s style dress so I sourced a colour matching shade of organza (the outer layer of her dress is made with a similar organza), and set to work.



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She specifically wanted a veil without straight edges so the whole veil is made up of circles, which gives the piece a wonderful volume and shape.


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She chose to edge the veil with thin ivory edging to echo the edging of the ribbon used on the dresses waist bow.


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She was so happy, as was I, with the finished result and I am sure you will agree that she looks stunning!


If you are curious as to where the wedding took place, it was at the wonderful Beamish Museum. A wonderful setting for lovers of vintage, antiques and history. 


My Students Exhibiting at Somerset House


Above: One of my students hats inspired by Tim Burton


Since November I have been teaching at CCAD (Cleveland College of Art and Design) every Saturday as part of the Sorrell Foundation's National Art and Design Saturday Club (NADSC). NADSC was started by the Sorrell Foundation to give young people the opportunity to learn and experience art and design skills that are not typically taught in Schools, with the intention of building confidence and giving an insight into higher education and creative careers.  

I have been so impressed with my student’s talent and enthusiasm. We have been doing all sorts of Art and Design activities over the weeks covering Fine art, graphic design, illustration and fashion design. These images are just a small selection of the final pieces we have been working on; hats based on the theme ‘nature’. As is clearly evident, each student ran away with the theme in their own direction, resulting in a highly imaginative collection of final pieces.

I am very proud that their final pieces will be displayed as part of the NADSC’s summer exhibition at Somerset House, London from 12th-19th June. The exhibition is open to the public so please pop along to see the full collection of their work exhibited alongside the other Club’s work.  

I would also like to point out that my students are all aged between 13 and 16 yrs old! Their work is amazing isn't it!?



Above: Students Tree Hat


Above: Students Starfish Hat


Above: Students Peacock Hat


Above: Students Ink drawing hat detail

More exhibition photos to follow!



Fashion Front Row Catwalk Show 2014

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Above: Bethan Sproat modelling The Libertarian's new Pheasant Feather and Tweed Headdress with amber trimmings. Soon to be added to the hire collection.


Last night was NE1’s Newcastle Fashion Weeks annual Fashion Front Row Catwalk show. It’s an event that I co-organise to promote local North East Fashion designers and this year we showcased seventeen different brands.   

WOW it was wonderful to hear people gasping (in a good way) as my first model walked onto the catwalk waering The Libertarian's new Black Floral Sunburst Headdress:


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Above: Belle modeling the new Black Floral Suburst Headdress. Soon to be added to the hire collection 


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Above: Violetta Jesinka modeling the veiled cream beret. This beret was bloced on a vintage 1930s hat block and would be ideal as a bridal or wedding guest hat.


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Above: Inda Bastaman modeling the Nude and Black Lace Fascinator 


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1064","attributes":{"alt":"Red 1940s vintage perching hat for ladies day or Wedding guests ","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Red 1940s vintage perching hat ","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"400"}}]]

Above: Alexandra Constanitin modeling the new 1940s style percher soon to be added to the hire collection.


[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1065","attributes":{"alt":"Large brimmed hat in pink with cream quills, ideal for Ascot or weddings ","class":"media-image","height":"600","title":"Mother of the Bride couture millinery","typeof":"foaf:Image","width":"400"}}]]

Above: Mellissa Loraine modeling the Sophia Hat in Ivory and pink, soon to be added to the hire collection. 


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Above: Myself and (almost) all of the NE1 Newcastle Fashion Week Team 





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Above: Bethan Sproat wearing The Libertarian's new Pheasant Feather and Tweed Headdress with amber trimmings. Soon to be added to the hire collection



I’ll be posting up full details of the other designers involved with more images in a later post becuase it was so much fun and so good to have so much talent in one place!