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!



The Tootsie Rollers at Royal Ascot Ladies Day 2015

Following the success of the commissioned hats I made for the Tootsie Rollers to wear to last years Royal Ascot (see here), I was thrilled to work with them again this year. The Tootsie Rollers are a fun all female vocal group with a strong vintage and retro style. Their style is synonymous with the style of the 1940’s and 1950s and Ascot racecourse employs them each year to entertain the racegoers over the five days of Royal Ascot. During Royal Ascot the girls require a total of thirty hats (my kind of girls!) and this year I worked with them to create their hats for the most ultimate day of hat wearing; Royal Ascot Ladies Day.




Earlier in the year they told me about their plans to base the look for each day at Ascot on an iconic vintage film star. For Ladies Day they chose Marilyn Monroe and intended to wear white dresses reminiscent of Marilyn’s famous look. I then set to work designing a set of six hats for the prestigious day, specifically based around hats that Marylyn had worn in the 1950’s. Marilyn is a fabulous style and beauty icon but she is not especially known for donning a hat. After a little research I found some beautiful images of her wearing neat little pill boxes, elegant berets and chic little perchers. All styles that not only met the Tootsie Rollers size requirements but would also contribute to that immaculate feel of 1950’s ladies fashion.       



The Tootsie Rollers usually all wear identical hats, but after a discussion we decided break tradition and opt six different hats. The six hats still needed to work together as a collection so I suggested each hat was made with the same duchess satin, had black accents, was of a similar size, incorporated merry widow veiling and was of course typical of that era.  

I made the suggestion that each hat could include black accents to give the pieces definition as the girls were planning to wear all white. Coincidentally Black and White are of course the traditional colours to wear to the races.

The Tootsie Rollers stylist Joanna Femi-Ola paired the outfits with Lulu Guinness bags, ASOS dresses, Tom Davies Sunglasses, Carat London Jewellery and Cleo B Footwear. 

Above: A Pill Box Hat in production


Above: Lisa wears the finished pill box hat from the above photo with merry widow veiling and black diamantes. 


Above: Flo wears a Duchess satin feathered beret with veiling and rhinestone details. 


Above: Katy wears a very vintage style band fascinator with veiling and diamante detail


Above: Khiley wears a satin pleated beret with diamane jewellery, veiling and Swarovski beads 

Above: Meg wears a black and white polka dot saucer hat with veiling


Above: Anna wears a black and white polka dot pill box hat with merry widow veiling bow featured at the back of the hat


I received fabulous feedback from the girls saying that they were thrilled to receive them, had a wonderful time wearing them and received a lot of compliments throughout the day. 



All of the pieces are now going to be added to The Libertarian’s hire collection. I’ll be making a few tweaks here and there on two of them, but they will be available for you to wear with your own vintage styling! I would love to see what you would wear them with- perhaps little white gloves and tailored pencil skirt suit? I feel a vintage style-off coming on...


One Hundred Years Of Hats


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.



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.


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.


Above: Victorian bonnet protector


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.   


Above: Late Victorian velvet hat


Above: Late Victorian Straw Flower Pot Hat


Above: Late Victorian Bonnet


Above: Millinery trimmings


Above: Sequinned Lily trimmings


Above: Edwardian First World War Ladies Hat


Above: Feather flower trimming



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

Above: 1930's Straw Hat 


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.



The Tootsie Rollers "persona" Hats by The Libertarian

The fab retro singing group The Tootsie Rollers recently commissioned The Libertarian to design and make a set of hats with their performance “personas” written on them for Royal Ascot 2014.

Their look always has a strong vintage/ retro feel to it, so I was delighted that I could use my vintage beret block to coordinate with their Pretty Dress Company dresses.



Each beret was hand blocked with a vibrant red sinamay.


I hand cut and painted all the lettering in 1950’s style fonts so each Tootsie could wear their own persona.


Above: The six persona hats waiting to be packed and posted 

The Tootsie Rollers perform at Royal Ascot every year and they wore their new persona hats to the Saturday meeting.

Not surprisingly, the girls caused a bit of a stir and made it into the national newspapers.


Above: The Tootsie Rollers in print, Sunday Epress 22nd June 2014.


I was lucky enough to hear the girls sing at Royal Ascot this year and certainly recommend them to anyone looking for some dazzling entertainers! Check out their website to hear (and see) for yourself! Click here>>> 



Kate's Organza Circle Bridal Veil



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



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.





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.



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



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. 


York Wedding Fair 23rd March 2014

On Sunday 23rd March I'm going to be at the Britain Does Vintage York Wedding fair with a selection of bridal, bridesmaid and wedding guest headwear.

I'm also taking along some hats in different stages of the hat making process so you'll be able to see how a hat is made and find out what types of hats will suit you.


If you are a lover of Vintage and planning your big day, this event is a must!!




New Years Eve Party 1929

Above: Myself and Al at the party

Over the summer I had the pleasure of throwing a huge party in celebration of my birthday. Not my usual sort of blogging material but this birthday party was an extra special one and I had to share it with you. The theme was 1920s “waving goodbye to the 20s” (I’ll let you guess my new age), and the party was set in prohibition America on New Years Eve 1929... yes we did see the New Year in at midnight with a projected vintage movie countdown and champagne, but that wasn’t the only surprise for the guests during the evening. 

I relish the role of hostess and my aim was to give my guests a complete 1920’s experience. 



I hand drew and printed my own invitations and incorporated some art deco inspired patterns…

Above: Invite Front


Above: Invite centre 

Above: Invite Back


Above: The secret speakeasy location and password was written on a little note and added to each invite  

The Setting

The party was going to be set in a speakeasy so I needed somewhere special and hidden. I was extremely excited when I discovered “The Empty Shop” in Durham city centre. Carlo, who co-runs Empty Shop, was so accommodating and helpful. I can’t recommend the venue enough, be it for an exhibition, event or party (have a gander at their website to find out about what they do, as there is too much to mention on here!).

Of course I had to hand draw some wall hangings to set the scene…




...and painted a canvas with glowing lights to brighten up a dark corridor...



…and I set up a casino...



...where you could gamble with "Jollars" (you can make your own online at Money Festisite)...



…and I hand painted a 1920's car for a photo booth... 





…and filled the dance floor ceiling with streamers and balloons...

…and created a pictorial time tunnel for guests to pass through once they had given the password to the bouncer (Al) at the entrance





The Little Touches

To fit with the speakeasy theme, all the drinks were served in either jam jars or brown paper bags...


I chose to serve traditional 1920s snacks and a local company, Hume’s Snacks, made a delicious selection of sandwiches- peanut butter and jelly, ham and cream cheese with mini porkpies (I did my authentic 1920s food research!). I couldn’t resist building a champagne pyramid of party snacks (excuse the blurry pic) 


My friend Jennifer made me the hugest Birthday Cake! (Note the Ostrich feather and pearl table decorations)   


The Entertainment

For some authentic 1920's drama I staged a faux speakeasy raid by a mob of gangsters. The mob of gangsters were played by my comedy sketch group "Heavy Petting" (I have no idea why we are called that). They ushered all the guests into the dance room with their plastic machine guns and then shot Al (it was “fat Al’s Speakeasy”) for not paying his hooch bills. Al did a very convincing death from one side of the room to the other. The mob then made us all play party games- Pin the Feather on the Flapper and Pass the Parcel.    

Above: The Gangster Speakeasy Raid 

Above: The Gangster Speakeasy Raid 

Above: Pin the Feather on the Flapper Party game 


Above: My friend Heidi being a fantastic cigarette girl handing out packets of chocolate cigarettes (while wearing a Libertarian pill box hat of course!)

Above: my friend Mark came up with a great party game where you had to guess what the 1920's slang was that he stuck on you.  

Above: Dancing the 1920's Charleston


The Clothes

And finally what we wore! Everyone looked wonderful. I can't fit everyone on here so here's just a few...


Above: I made my own 1920's style headdress

Above: Beaded detail on my 1920's repro dress from Blue Velvet Vintage in America  


Above: I decorated a pair of vintage shoes with Swarovski crystals 

Above:  A surprise gift from my mum; Art Deco earrings from Cavenish Jewellers in York

Photos courtesy of Sylvian Greumach, John Louis Higgins and Amy Stephenson (plus me!)

Hope you have enjoyed your little insight into one of my parties!





One of my oldest friends got married last weekend and I had the great honour of holding the Chuppah for the ceremony.  It was the first Jewish wedding ceremony that I had been to and it was so personal with lots of tear-jerking moments that it has become one of my favourites. The great advantage of holding the Chuppah is the fantastic view you get of the ceremony. I got to see the breaking of the glass close up! 

And of course the wedding gave me the perfect excuse to try out one of my new hat blocks!

Here's what I made...





Mazel Tov!