Shapes - Why the Taffetas Hat Needs Careful Choosing
Instead of the genus headgear being represented by the hat of mammoth size and the cap of small and snugly fitting dimensions, the hat of medium size has been introduced, a concession greatly appreciated by those thousands of women to whom exaggeration in no form whatsoever appeals.
The pages of history which relate to frills and furbelows have been sought for examples of pretty headgear likely to fascinate femininity, and, what is as important, to agree with the prevailing modes in toilettes.
Going back to the Marie Antoinette period, the milliners have borrowed the flopping shepherdess shapes that are essentially the possession of charming girlhood. No words of mine are needed to describe their fascination in detail. We know them well, for fashion is rarely satisfied when they are out of her catalogue, and if they are not being worn in ordinary life they are to be met with at masque balls and on the stage.
The salient features of the shepherdess hat are the flopping brim, the narrow black velvet ribbon trimmings, and the groups of flowers in pale blue, amber, and mauve shades artistically arranged above and below the brim, usually raising it at one or both sides. The straws mainly used are Leghorn, chip, and the openwork lace designs. Their period of greatest charm arrives with the wearing of lace and muslin toilettes embellished by little fanciful taffetas coats and the latest and smartest ideas in dress.
The flowers that are dedicated to the Marie Antoinette chapeau are the simple old-fashioned ones of the field, in keeping with the character of the hat and a reminiscence of the days in which the beautiful Queen and her courtiers amused themselves at Versailles making hay and playing the part of shepherdesses. Meadowsweet, daisies, forget-me-nots, buttercups, and poppies deck the picturesque hats of this description.
Other models, instinct with stately grace and of a more dignified aspect, which also possess the value of artistic and historical ancestry, are those called the marquise, which for spring wear enjoy a very pronounced vogue. They are suitable for more mature wearers than the shepherdess shapes.
A Riding Model of the Past
If I liken them to the riding hats in which stage heroines of an old-fashioned period are frequently to be seen, I shall be bringing before the mental vision of those who read these lines their typical features. The brim is turned up from one side to the other, across the front, with a gallant-looking
Dress sweep, and at the back there is a rather less elevated curve.
The hat can be carried out in many materials. One of the most popular at this moment is taffetas, which figures largely in many forms, yet should, nevertheless, be regarded with a certain amount of suspicion, for the very brilliantly lustrous surface of the fabric seen just above the brow is somewhat glaring and trying to the face. It can, however, be softened by the trimming accorded to it, in harmony with tradition, when the marquise shape is concerned. In this connection ostrich feathers are being used, and their softly curling fronds go far to mitigate any hardness of line that otherwise might be noticeable.
Then, again, there is the new device of facing the brim with lace. Nothing could be more becoming to the countenance than a brim of blurred blossom taffetas veiled with and trimmed with a single upstanding rose. Below is a model, also unique in form, which embodies an original conception in the combination of bristles and aigrettes of roses and field flowers shadow lace and a bordering of ostrich feathers to outline the edge.
Above is shown an unusual and distinctive mode, the hats with brim revers, ending in points at the back.
The marquise hat requires very little trimming, for the crown is scarcely visible. A cockade of pleated silk, a bunch of fibre, feathers sweeping downwards towards the left shoulder or standing upright suffices for the adornment of the model. At this point I must pause to deal a little with generalities, and the first subject of comment upon which I would dwell, is that of the enormous use of 'cathers in the millinery of the spring. It is often surmised before the first shows of early spring hats takes place that ostrich feathers, at any rate, will be allowed a well-deserved rest.
Not at all. They are being used as profusely as ever, and their presence is upon no type of hat more welcome than upon the taffetas shape, owing, as has been said before, to the naturally crude aspect of the material which requires a softening influence to render it becoming. By the way, I like it best gauged. Some remarkably pretty bonnets for little girls are dealt with in this way, most successfully, perhaps, when heavy cord - known as the rope method - is used for the gauging.
Ostrich feathers cannot be dispensed with when millinery is very highly coloured, and it is of a brilliant aspect in spring. What is to be said for a hat of ultramarine blue taffetas, with a brim of old gold straw? How positively blatant it would appear were it not for the refining influence of the triple Prince of Wales's plumes that rise above the crown. The colouring of the plumage is a delicate biscuit and a paler shade of blue, and the effect is charming.
Another model of hemp-coloured straw, with a sugar-loaf crown and a green taffetas brim slashed at the sides to resemble revers, has a handful of ostrich feathers rising very high, with the tips grace-fully drooping. The feathers introduce a brilliant cerise which mingles successfully with the rest.
But it is not only ostrich feathers that are used. Unfortunately, a great vogue has once more arisen for the plumage of birds of paradise and the aigrettes of the rare snowy heron. Though it has been represented over and over again by bird lovers that the robbery of such plumage portends the annihilation of the kind of birds that produce it, the exquisite feathers are still worn.
Nevertheless, it must not be supposed that all the aigrettes, gourahs, and paradise plumes that are seen come from birds. There would not be nearly enough to go round if such were the case.
Happily, the manufac-turers have become so clever that the fantaisie plumage which is used instead of the real kind almost defies detection, and is therefore quite acceptable to the majority of women. Fibre is used to a great extent, dried grasses are also employed, marabout is chosen, and there is an enormous amount of spun glass put to the required purpose.
An amusing resemblance to b 1 a c k i n g-brush bristles is seen in some of the "aigrettes," and, as if to draw attention to their fantastic appearance, they are sometimes tied at the top with a bow of ribbon, and at their base with gilded string and bass, a very humorous touch.
It must not be imagined, because so much has been said upon the subject of feathers, that flowers are not a very significant and charming asset of spring millinery.
On charming models we see and admire roses that look as if they had just been plucked in the garden, pink and white stocks that seem to scent the air with their virile odour, wallflowers in every shade of gold and deep brown, anemones, tulips, cherry blossom, flowers of the peach, and not only such orchard blossoms as these, but the flowers of fruit such as the little white strawberries with the ruddy fruit intermingled, brambles in flower and fruit, and such shrubs as japonica, laurestinus, flowering currant, ivy, and broom.
A daring but charming model for spring wear. Flowers of absolute fidelity to nature, combined with plumes or ostrich feathers characterise many of the most beautiful creations in spring millinery
No spring is free from millinery eccentricity - indeed, it is at this season of the year that the makers of modes launch as a speculation the bizarre shapes that may or may not cause a grand furore.
Every edition of the beret shape is in vogue, most remotely reminiscent in some instances of the peasant's cap worn in the Pyrenees. We find it developed in supple straw of such brilliant colours as red, flamingo, cerise, ultramarine, and gold, with a diadem of lace in front to represent the brim and trimmings of the most exotic kind, making the model look very far removed from its originally austere pattern.
A very striking creation for spring or early summer. The curves of the brim and trimming unite to produce a very original effect
A cloud like mass of marabout plumage or of the silky Impeyan pheasant rises from the front, or the fantastic plan of making feathers in similitude is pursued. Taffetas is used for the purpose, shirred over wire, and tulle is employed, crisply and yet lightly gauged, so that at a distance it bears a very close resemblance to the gourah plume.
One distinctly successful edition is made of amber Tagal straw, with a cordon of pink roses twined over and under the brim, and a Prince of Wales' feather group standing boldly upright in front. The spines of the feathers are sprinkled with small diamonds, which gives them a very brilliant appearance.