What’s Your Dewey? 646.5 A Hatter’s Choice

Hats have been part of our attire for centuries and for centuries they have gone in and out of fashion. They have been equally defining of an era, a character, a social status and a must for healthy outdoor living.  A Lithuanian proverb says: For every head a hat and yet a quick walk through any busy shopping or entertainment centre in Australia suggests the converse – no-one (not really) wears a hat. That is of course with one obvious exception – Race-day!  On Cup-day, in any state of Australia, the  fascinators come out and they can indeed be fascinating!

I will admit to being a fan of hats and have my own small but unique collection. I have been known to visit hat stores and view all the hats in clothing recycle shops.  I have also been known to garner new book titles on the topic as they hit the library shelves. Below are just a few I have viewed.

Studio Secrets: Milinery by Estelle Ramousse & Fabienne Gambrelle
Authored by renowned French milliner Estelle Ramousse, this beautifully illustrated book makes big promises but has met with mixed reviews. There are those that are clearly attracted to the look of this contemporary title but it’s the photographic content rather than the text that draws readers in. Those seeking instruction or any detailed demonstration of millinery technique will be disappointed as information is brief and aimed at introductory level only. Despite criticism, the book is attractive, contains some interesting history and can be a good starting point for those wanting to dabble.


Hats by Madame Paulette : Paris milliner extraordinaire by Annie Schneider ; foreword by Stephen Jones.
Born in 1900, Madame Paulette learned her trade between two world wars, to become the ‘queen of milliners’ and the most sought after fashion designer of the forties and fifties. Her hats featured in some of the world’s most famous movies of the time and graced the heads of notable stars such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn. Her creations were also sought by royalty (Princess Grace of Monaco), Paris couturiers (Pierre Cardin), photographers (Klein) and fashion magazines (Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar). This is a beautifully designed and illustrated book giving readers  an insight into a fascinating character and true fashion pioneer.
A stunning account of the life and work of the famed Parisian milliner. With clientele like Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly, she set the standard for petite pillboxes and over-the-top chapeaux.— MarthaStewart.com

Children’s sun hats by Gill Stratton.
No Hat No Play’ is now a standard rule applied to children in both our pre-schools and primary schools. Most school hats, however, are less than inspirational and many children resist the request to wear a hat out of school hours. Children’s sun hats by Gill Stratton provides simple but great advice on how to turn this around – get children involved in designing and making their own hats!  She encourages would-be home milliners to involve children in the process, from the look of the item to the choice of fabric and suggests ways to involve them in constructing the end result. This is a practical book, which begins with some pertinent and basic hat-making tools, tips and techniques. It also includes patterns and ideas for projects. The book may not help you inspire teens but is certainly great for hat-making for babies to 8 year olds. You can take a sneak peek here: http://amzn.to/2mYaZwW

Hat shop : 25 projects to sew, from practical to fascinating compiled by Susanne Woods.
Part of the Design Collective series, this title features contributions from over 20 designers from around the world. Hat projects include designs for bonnets, caps, crowns and headbands, fascinators, scarves and tams. They vary from the fun to the serious, the glamorous to the work-a-day. Likening the book to the Lithuanian proverb mentioned above, the publishers suggest the book includes ‘a handmade hat for every head!’ The book includes hats for all age groups and styles, and can be picked up by those starting out in hat-making as it includes some step-by-step photographs and patterns (although not all photographs are clear or instructions simple).
You can look inside here: http://amzn.to/2mRDSKJ

From the neck up: an illustrated guide to hatmaking by Denise Dreher
Since first being published over 30 years ago, this title has been THE reference book for anyone serious about the art and craft of millinery. It has been used by milliners from all fields including theatre and film costume designers. Although it clearly contains information that is now outdated and some of the supplies and materials are no longer readily available, it is still considered an invaluable resource. It’s longevity can be attributed to both the historical context of hat designs  (it includes designs from many eras in history such as ancient Greece Baroque, Edwardian and Modern) and its relatively easy to follow instructions.  The book also includes over four hundred illustrations and drawings. The book not only details how to make new hats but gives good instructions on repairing damaged and vintage hats (useful for hat collectors like me).

Of course there are many, many more books on the topic and in different Dewey areas – the 391s for stylish hats and the 745s for fabulous crafty paper hats to name just two. Then of course there are the many serious and quirky quotes about hats contained in books from all over the Dewey range by characters real and fictional. So I think I’ll conclude with a quote from a Neil Gaiman book Anansi Boys:

“Some hats can only be worn if you’re willing to be jaunty, to set them at an angle and to walk beneath them with a spring in your stride as if you’re only a step away from dancing. They demand a lot of you.”

Nola Cavallaro




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