Holiday Hat Season

20151113_062132With Remembrance Day, over my thoughts turn from my first book, Dear Harry (a compilation of my grandfather’s World War I experiences) to hats. While putting the finishing touches to my upcoming book on childrens’ clothing, I’ve also been dealing with family illness and my husband’s surgery. But the holiday hat season is gearing up and I’ll be kicking it off with one of the millinery museum’ s retrospective fashion shows at Pearl and Pine Retirement Residence on Friday. Since they placed a full page ad in the Hamilton Spectator, I’ve been receiving calls from hat-hoarding donors of wonderful vintage pieces, so I am in high spirits.  Norma Shephard

I am also looking forward to all that the holiday hat season has in store. Mostly Maria Curcic’s store. I will be wearing some of my old favourites, of course, but on the lookout for that something new that is just right. Yes, I have already ordered and received Curcic’s Green Vixen cocktail hat which arrived perfectly packed and padded along with a stack of her business cards. I will happily pass them out to other buyers, keeping my fingers crossed, of course, that no-one buys the exclusive pieces I already have my eye on.  I urge you to check out her online store. The quality and ingenuity of her pieces can’t be matched. 20150519_102159


Maria Curcic Online Store Now Open

Hot pink swirls and netting create a 1940s aesthetic.

It is now easier than ever to own a one-of-a-kind hat, cap, or fascinator from the prestigious Canadian milliner, Maria Curcic. Her online store went live on the 15th of this month and features so many tempting, wearable designs,  that I don’t know what to order first. I am certain, however, that I’ll be buying a festive fascinator for the upcoming Christmas season. (I’ll keep you posted.)

Great style, beautiful workmanship

If you’re looking for a warm topper with a cool ’70s vibe to complement one of the hot new ponchos or fur vests, check out Maria’s beautifully blocked felts. I’m in love with the caramel floppy pictured here.

If stylish caps are more to your liking ( they’re a great choice if you’re heading south) check out her selection of unique silks, satins, linens, tweeds and wools  with embellishments ranging from lace to brooches to embroidered appliques.  

capmariaMaria also has a selection of exquisite cloches, berets, cocktail hats, pill boxes and wedding pieces.

I have purchased many hats and fascinators from this millinery designer over the years and each has arrived in peak condition. And I have never had a problem with fit.

I really believe that if you’re going to wear a hat, go for quality workmanship and design.  I wore this Maria Curcic veiled number to Kinky Boots recently and got plenty of compliments. My daughter was also admired in her gold silk turban which she picked up in Paris. 20150815_134516 (1)


5 Reasons to Rock a Turban This Fall

29-fStella Jean is making turbans fashionable again and it’s about time. Take a look at her Africa Print headpieces and you’ll find it’s hard to focus on the clothing, the hats are so great. The turban is a classic style that has been revived from time to time with variations, but now is not the time to pull on a vintage piece. Chances are you won’t be able to pull off the look; the fit and sit likely won’t go with today’s silhouette.

I’ve been meditating on  what style of hat to buy for fall and I came up with 5 great reasons to select a turban. I confess that I already have one, turban profile

I bought it a few years ago at Beau Chapeau in Niagara-on-the-lake when turbans were rarely found.  It’s a light-weight jersey summer selection that was not too hot to wear even in Cuba. One of my favourite Lilliputs


Here are my 5 reasons to buy a turban this fall:

1/Let’s face it, clothes are expensive and if you can’t afford an entire new wardrobe for fall (who can?)  one of the colourful turbans running hot right now will make everything your closet new and fresh again.

2/ Felt fedoras are great for fall and Lilliput in Toronto has fashioned some  awesome pieces (check out the September issue of Elle Canada), but the high-crowned, wide-brim beauties reminiscent of the ’70s will not go with every silhouette, whereas a turban can be worn with everything from evening gowns to bathing suits.  8992590c3d8f23fee6d6b54997b1f7b6

3/ My husband likes to keep the windows down in the car when we’re driving and crazy wind is death on hairdos. When you’re wearing a turban you can enjoy the breeze and keep your hair tidy at the same time… which brings me to reason number 4 to buy a turban.

4/If your hair is looking less than its best (you’re running to the gym, you have no time to style after showering at the gym, or if it’ s just a plain old bad hair day) a turban covers it all and looks great.

5/Audience members at my Retrospective Millinery Fashion Shows often ask me what style of hat suits their face shape. While it is true that certain styles are more suited to round, square, or heart shaped faces (ovals can wear any style), a turban suits every face shape, and can be embellished in the front, side or back.

I’ve ordered a new turban from millinery designer Maria Curcic and can’t wait to see what she delivers. You know I’ll show you mine, so please show me yours.

Canada’s Pride: Maria Curcic, Millinery Designer Extaordinaire!

20150519_102159Two new Maria Curcic hats arrived yesterday. This Paris born-and-trained millinery designer is a master.  First out of the box was a work of art called To The Symphony  a stunning veiled headband style with a front-and-centre vintage rhinestone pin that is almost badge-like. DSC_0064 (1) (1)

The large Duchesse silk bow dominates a diamond dot veil with occasional pearl accents to lighten its effect. A true marvel of creativity. I had gone to Maria for a spring topper hoping to get away from black as I have so much of it, but when I saw this, I had to have it, despite all of the tempting colorful hats and fascinators she has prepared for the season.  Maria’s professional photo shoots with models STELA LICINA AND NELLY A. speak for themselves!DSC_0220

Although I was tempted by this blue beauty,  the second treasure I opted for, called  Parisian Playtime,  is just as dear but not quite as dramatic. 20150520_081015

A swirl of cream-coloured simamay, trimmed in black, forms a nest for a spray of multi-coloured feathers. All atop a circular base of  polka dotted straw. The hat feels weightless. It will be tough deciding which to wear tonight when I present a Retrospective Millinery Fashion Show at Montgomery Inn in Toronto.  4ab32e1704411513429481318c32f2e3 (1)I have been wearing Spy in the Dark  (a black Maria Curcic, of courseto my Legacy of Lace shows, but that hat deserves its own post.  More to come soon on Maria Curcic (such a talented artist). Check out her eBay site!

I hope I have inspired you to pop on a hat and enjoy a cup of tea with friends at some point during this glorious spring season.  Or sit down alone and leaf through a copy of 1,000 Hats.  You will be happy you did.

Kicking off Hat Season with a Lacey Maria Curcic Stunner

63rd birthdayHere at the Mobile Millinery Museum hats are always in season, but our busy time starts in May. In fact, last weekend we presented six shows in four days. Hats say spring, of course, and with Mothers’ Day and Victoria Day falling in this month the hat celebrations and teas keep us busy daily. Hats also say weddings, and many a June bride is honoured with a bridal shower this month. Our Retrospective Millinery Fashion Shows are a perfect fit for all of these events and if my blog posts this month are few and far between because of my busy schedule, I hope you’ll forgive me.

My birthday is also in May and each year I treat myself to one of Maria Curcic’s  latest designs. This year’s pick is a stunning veiled fascinator with exquisite lace trim; the perfect compliment to our 2015 feature exhibit “A Legacy of Lace”.  If you’re not familiar with this designer’s work, I urge you to go to her website.

I’ll be posting again soon on  her spring collection.

Hats to Pack for Cuba

OK, it’s off to Holguin once again for a week in the sun at the Sol Rio de Luna Y Mares resort near Guardalavaca. Depending upon where you travel in this world, you either pack hats to take, or save room for those hats you will buy when you’re away. At least, I hope  you do.

Today, I’m selecting hats to take away. My destination calls for sun protection the minute you step off the plane. Besides, despite all of Cuba’s charms, I can’t count on finding great hats there.

Selection #1:


Here’s a Louise Green straw I bought at Beau Chapeau in Niagara-on-the-lake a few years ago. This hat offers great sun protection for face and shoulders, but tends to lift with even the slightest breeze. Despite the fact that it goes with everything, I will have to leave it at home.

Selection #2:


This bright white cotton is definitely coming with me. It passes the breeze (and even wind) test. It is light and cool and didn’t cost very much, so I can wear it without worry. I picked it up last summer in Prince Edward Island.  Label: Folk Art Canada. I folked it up further with the addition of some vintage millinery flowers. It stuffs easily in my carry-on.

Selection #3:

As much as I’d like to believe I could get by with only one hat while I’m vacationing, there are some outfits I’m taking that are simply too cute not to be accessorized with an amazing hat. Luckily, this Maria Curcic packs flat, sits well on my head and goes great with 3 little beach dresses I’m taking. This one isn’t just for hat shows.  


Selection #4:

If you only buy one hat ever for summer wear, get yourself a panama straw. It’s the lightest and coolest option there is. This classic was a gift from my son, (he picked it up in Costa Rica) and while it has great style,  protects me from the sun and all that, it is simply too precious to risk it getting crushed or dirty. This light-as-air millinery marvel will be staying home.


Selection #5:

This fem fedora was also a gift from my son and it will be coming with me. It’s lightweight and  cool, but it’s mainly for looks. Be sure and wear good sunglasses with this style.


Selection #6:

Here’s one for evening, bad hair, or an open-air ride. It’s a sweet modern take on the classic turban and rolled up, it can fit in your pocket.


Birds in Fashion

Norma ShephardBe they embroidered, sequined, woven, or fashioned from their magnificent plumage itself, birds have long played an important and sometimes controversial role in centuries of fashion design and execution. One of my favourite show hats is this feather-trimmed fascinator by Maria Curcic, called Flaming Desire.  Here is another spectacular piece by this Paris trained designer:

Maria Curcic

From the Victorian days of plunder-taxidermy manuals instructed readers to ‘start with birds’ to 20th century protectionism, birds have found their way into fashion in one form or another; while Australian Huia beak brooches, hummingbird dinner dress adornments, and ostrich feather fans captivated the hearts of 19th century fashionistas, 20th century buyers, respectful of avian environmental concerns, were charmed by printed and woven textiles representing all species of man’s feathered favourites.

So widespread was the slaughter of exotic birds for fashion that feathers were actually classified as textiles. This is a sub-collection category that intrigues me greatly.