The Saucy Milliner Harris Tweed Collection

For as long as I can remember, I have been wearing hats.

For almost as long as that, Harris Tweed has been a presence in my life and my wardrobe.  In the same way that my Grampa Dunlap introduced a very young Saucy Pup to the fun world of hats, so did he introduce me to the famous Custodial Orb.

It’s the Harris Tweed Orb label that I actually have memories of, before the concept of the tweed, itself. I remember my grampa having a sports coat in which this large, square, white and red patch resided on the inside of one of the front panels.  I thought the Orb was an icon of some sort of magic and that the label gave the jacket special powers.  I had a pretty healthy imagination, which has largely (and thankfully) survived intact, as it served to fuel many adventures when I later grew up – including moving to Scotland, home country of my beloved Harris Tweed.   Scouring thrift stores and charity shops there, I procured several wonderful garments that kept me warm on my Highland adventures. I trotted about in my many dandy blazers, vintage skirt suits (I especially miss those) and slacks mixing up the herringbones, houndstooths and the heathered twills which were, until recently, the only patterns I really associated with Harris Tweed.  Sadly, I left my entire wardrobe behind when I moved back to Canada (a story for another time).   A couple of years ago, in a fit of melancholy and reminiscence of my days of living in Scotland…clad in my cozy Harris Tweed and shetland wool sweaters, traipsing happily about the heathered hills, I started researching the history of this textile and the story behind the magical Orb Label. Lo, the inspiration for the collection was born. I quickly discovered that Harris Tweed was not only woven in brown hued herringbones, but a veritable rainbow of colors.  I knew that I had to work with this noble and wonderful fabric and incorporate it into my millinery!

Harris Tweed Label that my work from this collection proudly carries. 'The Custodians of the Orb'.

 

Harris Tweed is a wool fabric that is manually woven exclusively in the Outer Hebrides by crofters, using pedal power looms.  They manufacture it in the same way today as when they first started to, with the exception that a new double width loom has been introduced.

No electricity is used to operate this loom. Low tech yet intricate in it's operation. Not to unlike millinery.

No electricity is used to operate this loom. Low tech yet intricate in it's operation. Not to unlike millinery. This is the 'Hattersley Loom'.

 

It’s a textile with a very long and rich history and I am  happy  and proud to have incorporated it into my own work through my new pre-fall 2013 collection.  I ordered my Harris Tweed from two independent mills in Scotland, and had the hat blocks made in the UK, especially for this project.

The Harris Tweed Yardage I used in the collection. The Black, Ivory, Foxglove Purple and Glen Green have yet to be used to create a hat... So much Tweed, so little time!

 

The hats are all buckram and wire construction with much hand sewing involved. I chose colors that reflected some of the landscape elements that I remember encountering on my many countryside hikes and rambles.  It is the Hebridean landscape that inspires the weavers when they design the dye colors and the patterns that they weave into the tweed.  There is a beautiful book coming out in May by photographer, Ian Lawson called From The Land Comes The Cloth, in which he captures the incredibly romantic, breathtaking scenery and the vivid colors of the Outer Hebrides. Mr. Lawson has very kindly let me use some of the work that he has been previewing on his Facebook site in this blog post to help convey the inspiration behind my own creations.  I am very grateful to him.

For a lovely website that has a great blog and information on the production process of Harris Tweed, please visit the Harris Tweed Authority.

 

Luskentyre Blue - from Ian Lawson's upcoming book. I want to dive into this photo...

 

Basic Beret in Luskentyre Blue. The deep, rich color of the blue is all this piece needed. Simple and lush...the texture of the Tweed is visible, and that's what I love about this color and shape. I just want to reach out and touch the hat..! And when I wear mine out, strangers do...

 

Black Watch has always been one of my favorite tartans.  It reminds me of the sky at midnight on a summer’s eve…woven into the deep blue and  black is a hint of the deep green of the hills in the distance as the moon breaks through from behind the sliver of a passing cloud.

Black Watch Topper

 

Black Watch Saucer

 

 

 

 

Fire in the skies... Sunset in the Outer Hebrides Photo by Ian Lawson.

 

Red Beret with Pheasant Quills

 

 

 

 

photo by Ian Lawson

Lovett Herringbone beret with a duo of two tone flowers - the underside of the flower petals is ivory tweed - and 6 freshwater pearl stamens

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Ian Lawson

 

 

Floral mini beret. The flowers are two tones, the underside being ivory Harris Tweed. Freshwater pearl stamen

 

 

 

 

Scottish thistle - one of the most iconic symbols of this country, this beautiful weed grows almost everywhere. I love the colourful explosion on the top of the plant. I incorporated that little tuft of pink into my pillbox cocktail hat. Photo by Ian Lawson

 

Thistle Pink asymmetrical pillbox with side choux.

 

Bow Beret in Fog

 

 

The hats in this collection are available through my bespoke services. Please email me on hello@thesaucymilliner.com if you would like to discuss ordering one.  Color swatches of the Harris Tweed can be sent upon request, though I must say that the photos did capture the actual color of the tweed very well!

Comments

9 Responses to “The Saucy Milliner Harris Tweed Collection”

  1. Jamie says:

    I love the way you have brought together those beautiful landscapes with the sumtuous fabric. Love the story-telling too. I think that is what inspires creative people … a living history with their work.

    Great job!

    Jamie

    • Thank you Jamie, I was so pleased to fin Ian Lawson and his work…I thought it tied in beautifully! He was very kind to let me use the images. Most of my work to date has been inspired from some element of my past. We’ll see what the future holds… 😉

  2. Angelika says:

    Great blog! those photos of Scotland made me gasp. I am so looking forward to going back there next year. I am so impressed with the fact that the fabric is still made in the traditional way – now i want to start hunting for Harris Tweeds in thrift shops!

    • Thanks for the comments, Angelika – the landscape photogrpahs are from a new book by Ian Lawson, they should link to his beautiful website! And yes, thrifting for Harris Tweed to upcycle is on my list of things to do this weekend!

  3. Tonya Davis says:

    I agree with Jamie! I love the story. Also, I absolutely love your pictures too!! Beautiful work!! You are just too smart and talented!

  4. Jaclyn C says:

    A Heeland Coo! Soooo cute! ….oh yeah and GORGEOUS hats! Great work Kelly!

  5. Gorgeous, hats, gorgeous tweed and a beautiful portrayal of the inspiration behind it all.

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