Hats were Hedda Hopper’s trademark…the larger and more flamboyant, the better! A milliner’s dream, she ordered at least 150 designs a year and had a very keen understanding of how to put together her ‘look’.
This noted gossip columnist joined The Los Angeles Times in 1937 and quickly became a woman to be feared as she dug for dirt and revealed details of the private lives of the stars.
Inspiration for my hat designs comes from so many different sources and this week, I’ve been to the cinema twice…both films, by coincidence, featuring Hedda Hopper… in gorgeous 1950s costume.
The first, ‘Trumbo’ was more than a bioflick about the celebrated scriptwriter, Dalton Trumbo. When I saw the trailer, the injustice of the McCarthy era first caught my attention; then the hats that Helen Mirren wore as the Hedda character. It’s a slightly uneasy sensation, deploring the Republican witch hunt , empathising with reasonable men and women seeking equality and fairness in society, caught in the horror of trying to make a living whilst blacklisted …..and hoping the hats would stay on screen long enough to make an impression on my memory.
The most impressive ones were the formal hats she wore with perfectly tailored suits though a little black and silver cocktail hat with a flourish of curled feathers was delightfully sparkly.
The second film was more agreeable and far less challenging – ‘Hail, Caesar’ was an enjoyable romp through 1950s Hollywood. It touched, lightly, on similar themes and the Hedda Hopper-like character, Thora Thacker, played by Tilda Swinton wore even more extravagant hats…and was played for laughs. There was a touch of recognition when I saw one creation. It reminded me of this one from a Vogue Vintage paper pattern.
There is an undeniable elegance in the outfits of this period; one could say that the controlled and restrained couture of the decade reflected the restrictive social conventions that were blown away in the 60s explosion of self expression.
So, like a magpie, I try to pick out all the best bits and tuck them away in my sketchbooks and my imagination….a particular shape, high quality crafting skills, the use of different materials. I won’t be making Hedda’s cocktail hat but I will interpret the shape in a more modern way; I will try out some of the Vintage Vogue patterns but in very different fabrics . I can learn from the past but I want to design for now and the future. That means selecting and inventing so that each bespoke client can be the ‘star’ in her own bioflick!
Paper Pattern: Vogue Accessories 7464