Friday, November 22, 2013


An umbrella will protect you from the rain and a parasol will protect you from the sun but a hat will also protect you from the cold and hats tend to be so much chicer than umbrellas.
You can make a hat into an umbrella but you cannot make an umbrella into a hat.
Hussein Chalayan hat umbrella

An umbrella can be cumbersome and hard to hold when you are carrying your shopping bags on a windy day, but a snuggly fitting hat will not blow off your head and allows you to use both hands for the task at hand.

People loose and yes, even steal umbrellas, but they seldom loose or steal hats!

Umbrellas break and blow inside out in gales but well fitting and well made hats last forever.

BUT umbrellas can also be fun and can be useful if you are "singing in the rain".
Check out this article from the New York Times.

Keeping Alive the Art of Handcrafted Umbrellas

Marta Rovatti Studihrad for FINAEST.COM
Umbrella tips arrayed at the workshop of Ombrelli Maglia Francesco on the outskirts of Milan.

LONDON — “It has asserted its sway from Indus to the Pole,” said William Sangster in his 1855 treatise on the umbrella. “And is to be met with in every possible variety, from the Napoleon blue silk of the London exquisite, to the coarse red or green cotton of the Turkish rayah.”

For Mr. Sangster, the umbrella ranked among the “dearest and most indispensable of household objects.” Yet, he sadly observed, “we treat it with shameful neglect.”

His sentiments are shared by Francesco Maglia, the fifth-generation owner of Ombrelli Maglia Francesco, one of the few companies that still employ traditional methods of umbrella making.
“People think an umbrella is just something to use once or twice and throw away,” Mr. Maglia said. “I still have my grandfather’s umbrella. If you take care of an umbrella it lives as long as you.”
Now 70, Mr. Maglia still works alongside his brother Giorgio at their workshop on the outskirts of Milan. All their materials — except some exotic woods like whangee bamboo and Malacca cane — are obtained in Italy, he said.
“Chestnut, ash, walnut, cherry wood, wild cherry wood, Malacca, whangee,” are among the many woods they use, he said.
Hickory, ebony and rosewood can also be found in their collection, along with hand-stitched leather covers of calfskin, ostrich, lizard and crocodile, inserts of horn and tortoiseshell, and handles of deer horn, antlers, tree roots and, intriguingly, “tooth of warthog.”
“We are really well known because of the solid sticks,” he said of their single shaft umbrellas. “They’re really unbreakable; they look like walking sticks with an umbrella over. For me it’s my best product.”
These sticks are painstakingly polished and bent in a process that can take up to six months.
Requiring specialist skills, the number of suppliers who make umbrella parts such as these have dwindled, and in many cases disappeared, Mr. Maglia said.
“Twenty years ago we had four companies for fabric, we had seven companies for handles,” he said. Now, “we only have two for handles and one for the fabric.”
“I am just sad. It’s a culture that’s going underneath our shoes,” he said, using an Italian expression to describe the decline of the industry.
Ray Garrett, the owner of Fox Umbrellas in London, tells a similar story. The umbrella business, he said, “was made up of very small little factories, people that just bent the handles, people that just made the runners, or just made the fittings.”
Now most umbrella makers get their parts from China. “We’re losing this little cottage industry,” he said. “It’s getting harder and harder.”
Established in 1868, Fox has produced handmade umbrellas since the reign of Queen Victoria. Available in any number of colors, from yellow, lilac and aubergine to ala blue and emerald, their range today stretches from ladies’ umbrellas with a mass of frills and an elaborate tassel priced at 142 pounds, or about $230, to the more gentlemanly crutch-handle model, with a black beech shaft and fitted silver collar, for £1,202.
“Prince Charles gave one of those to his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, last year as a Christmas present,” said Mr. Garrett of a Malacca racing umbrella with a pencil in the handle.
“You can have the crook of the handle over your arm, and you can take the gold pencil out of the top so you can mark your racing card,” he said.
Their more unusual custom-made creations have included an inside-out umbrella with a steel cable through its middle, made for the Broadway show “Barnum,” and a diamond and ruby encrusted, gold-plated umbrella for the sultan of Brunei.
“It’s rather nice, but a bit ornate,” Mr. Garrett said of the umbrella that now has pride of place in the sultan’s private museum.
The beauty of a bespoke umbrella is that it can be made to fit its customer, he added: “We have customers that are very tall and they want the extra length,” he said. “People in Japan of course are much shorter, so they prefer a shorter umbrella.”
They get asked to do all sorts of things, Mr. Garrett added: “You’d be amazed. We’ve got umbrellas with different animal heads, and a monkey with eyes that open and a tongue which sticks out.”
“We used to make umbrellas with swords in,” he said. “Now, of course, illegal.”
Providing a more modern twist on the umbrella, Brelli in New York has developed an ecologically friendly version called the Brelli.
Every Brelli is handcrafted from biodegradable materials, explained the company’s founder, Pamela Zonsius. The frame is formed of a bamboo pole, elderberry wood makes the handle, and natural rubber gum serves as the tip.
But the Brelli’s most innovative feature is its canopy. Made of a unique, biodegradable material, it provides 99 percent protection from ultraviolet rays and allows full visibility when a person holds it to the wind.
As the Brelli’s original inspiration was the “beautiful little umbrella that you get in a tropical drink,” Ms. Zonsius chose to work with a Fairtrade team of traditional paper parasol makers from Thailand to design and make the umbrella. Together they “re-engineered” the parasol frame so that it could withstand New York winds of up to 40 miles per hour.
“It’s like an umbrella shield,” she said. “It really does protect you from any angle.”
“From my point of view it had to be windproof, rainproof and sunproof,” she added. “I am not a proponent of beautiful things that don’t function, and for me the Brelli functions in every way that you would want an umbrella to.”
Ms. Zonsius said she hoped that the Brelli, which is currently sold by New York museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim, will eventually “be adopted into the mainstream.”
“It takes one to look outside the box and feel confident in carrying something that is a little bit different,” she said. But “over time people will begin to realize what it is, and how functional it is and how beautiful it is.
“It’s everything you really want an umbrella to be.”

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to crochet a callanan raffia hat by hand

Callanan hats are made with the finest crocheted raffia on the market. There is nothing mass produced about these hats. Each hat is hand crocheted by artisan workers.
The raffia fonds are harvested in Madagascar and sent to our partner factory in China.

Raffia is a natural fiber with color variations. As it dries, the color variations become more obvious. The first step for the works is to sort the raffia by color.

The bundles are then dyed into specific color. Dried raffia retains a lot of natural oils so it is nearly impossible to get dark colors like black. Browns and other earth tone colors are easier to dye.
master dyer
                      Here we see the master dyer matching the raffia to customer color requests.

Crochet raffia crown with mat raffia brim.

Raffia being naturally bleached outside in the sun for a more even color.

Artisan workers hand crocheting callanan raffia hats.

Workers hand crocheting raffia flowers for hat trims.

                                                     THE FINISHED PRODUCT





Adam Levine's hat trick

Adam Levine has a hat trick up his nose.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


You say tomato and I say tomato, you say trilby and I say fedora. I say cuffed knit cap with a pompon and you say it's a bobble hat but lets agree not to call it a Tea Cosy!!
bobble hat or bobble cap is a knit cap that has a yarn "bobble" or pom-pon upon its top. It is similar to the tuque or watch cap; however, the tuque does not have a bobble on its top.
The term was coined as a mistaken British term of abuse ("you bobblehat," directed towards a middle-aged man who has lost his charisma) in German playwright Botho Strauss's play Der Park: Schauspiel (1983). The play is a reworking of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; it is set in 1980s England.
Bobble hats were traditionally considered utilitarian cold-weather wear. In the late 20th century, in the United Kingdom they (like the anorak) were associated with utilitarian unfashionability or with older football supporters, as they had been popular in club colors during the 1960s and 1970s. Along with the pin-on rosette and the football scarf, the bobble hat was seen as traditional or old-fashioned British working-class football regalia.
Since 2000, the bobble hat has become popular with some female celebrities, and this has contributed to its having become a fashionable item.
 According to the Financial Times, Styles section there is a hat BOBBLE (pardon the pun) in the making for winter 2013.

“You can’t pull a fedora down around your ears,” observes London-based tailor Richard James. Yes, after a brief flirtation with classic felt hats – fedoras included – cutting-edge menswear has embraced what can only be described as the “luxury bobble hat” this winter.
Ski-hats for men
From top: Moncler; Ralph Lauren; Richard James
Look online and in store and there are countless variations on the big-label cosy knit hat; from Dior Homme’s beanies (£110) and Dolce & Gabbana’s cashmere styles (£235) to Ralph Lauren’s red-and-black snowflake designs (£85), Rick Owens’ ribbed numbers (£166) and Moncler’s branded pom-pom affairs (£115). Indeed, there is a bobble hat for all tastes.
“We see men of every age buying knit hats,” says Jeevan Singh, men’s accessories buyer at Selfridges. “They have become a true essential rather than an accessory. Go for simple styles in luxury fabrics and a sophisticated colour palette, and you won’t go far wrong.”
Even London’s most sartorial street, Savile Row, has got in on the trend. “Knitted hats certainly feel right this winter,” says James of his hats, which sell for £120 and above. “We have been producing hand-knitted hats on the west coast of Ireland for many years,” he adds. “We know exactly who makes them and each one has a character of its own.”
What’s more, these hats are apparently not just destined for chilly weekends away and après-ski; be prepared for sightings on the streets of the Square Mile. “I’ve noticed a lot of our customers wearing our bobble hats during the week with a suit,” says Richard James.
Thelma Speirs, one half of hat duo Bernstock Speirs, whose knit styles start from £90, agrees: “The addition of a bobble hat can make a smart look seem more contemporary. I think it’s a great mix with a tailored suit. Like the anorak, men’s bobble hats used to be something of a joke but now men of all ages are wearing them. Seriously.”


                                                                   Regular style fedoras will continue to sell.
LV325-asst with lace appliqué. pic by koitz.
Try this sassy callanan fedora LV337-ASST
This is a hard look for ladies to pull off unless they are waif-like things. I do like the Vivienne Westwoods 1830 style Eugenie  hat.


Bulbous Euro biker caps a la Pucci and classic Greek fisherman cap a la Ralph Lauren.

Love the brooch idea and the knit French biker a la Hilfiger.

These bombed for me the last time around. Lets hope for a really really cold winter for these to sell.


Love these nun inspired, medieval caps.

Staying with the medieval Game Of Thrones inspiration, we spot lots of crowns and tiers on the runways. These bejeweled headpiece safe easily converted into fascinators and headbands.


Adding a veil to a beanie is very a la mode.

Or you can update an old beanie with a DYI make over.

Callanan cloche. pic by KOITZ
J'adore les cloches. Always so mysterious and always so chic.

Callanan cloche. pic by koitz. Available at Lord and Taylor