By Heather Killen
A Bridgetown area sewer is switching hats and starting a new business.
Everything old is new again in the fashion world and Marilyn Booth, of London Girl Fascinators, is relying on childhood inspiration to fuel a passion for the latest trend. While she has been selling her fabric art locally for some time, she recently decided to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and try on hat making.
Booth said she grew up in England and remembers taking the train to visit her grandmother. As a little girl she was mesmerized by the magical assortment of ribbons, buttons, bows and lace that her grandmother kept in her sewing room.
At the age of 14, Booth's grandmother Florence Hines-Hardy had apprenticed with an English milliner and learned the art of making hats. While she stopped working when she got married, she continued to take on jobs as a seamstress and was mainly the person who taught Marilyn how to sew.
“She was a beautiful sewer,” she said. “When I was small, we sewed together.”
While Booth was still living in England, she was taught basic sewing in Grade 1 learning simple stitches with wool in cardboard patterns. Whenever she visited her grandmother and aunt, they spent much of the time sewing together.
Over the years, Booth learned to make most of her own clothes and occasionally made hats for friends. A group of her friends recently held a special coffee party to celebrate the royal wedding. Hats were mandatory at this little soiree, so Booth put her thinking cap on and came up with her first fascinator.
Also called cocktail hats, fascinators had fallen out of fashion for many years. Recently they've made a come-back, thanks to a revived fascination with the Royals. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is often photographed wearing one and this has brought them back in vogue.
Booth said she opted to design one for the coffee party, rather than wearing a traditional hat. The headpiece's simple elegance was quickly a hit, so she made a few more to give to her business partners Carole Carter and Rachel Cooper, who wore them to the library's official grand opening.
All The Talk
Soon everyone was talking about the fascinators and Booth decided it would be worthwhile to make more. These decorative headbands can be worn on either side of the face. They won't flatten your hair, or make your head hot and itchy the way regular hats do.
“People stand a little taller when they wear them,” said Carole Carter. “You feel pretty when you wear them.”
Booth says she loves the opportunity to be creative and custom design the fascinators to suit the person wearing it. She plays with colours and textures, adding (cruelty-free) feathers, scraps of tulle and whatever materials that work.
Once she knows the occasion (a wedding, or special service) and the colours, she can design a unique fascinator on fairly short notice, about two days if needed. For more information on fascinators, stop by the Emporium on Fridays afternoons from noon until 4:30 p.m. and talk to Booth (at 377 Granville St. in Bridgetown), visit the page on Facebook; or call Marilyn Booth at 665-4839.