Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Ever Fashionable and Sophisticated Cloche

A friend recently asked if I could knit a hat for her mother as a birthday gift.  She sent me a picture of the hat and I thought it was so adorable (see picture below).  After taking a closer look though, I noticed it wasn't a knitted style, it was actually crochet, which for me is no problem, I haven't done much crocheting in the last few years but its like riding a bicycle, if you get on and start pedaling it starts to come back to you. 

The design is ever reminiscent of the 1920's style Cloche with a modern look to it. And since I've been looking forward to playing with this particular style of hat I agreed to crochet it for her.

Design by Diane McGettigan
found on Etsy at Handmade Cottage
When I first came across this hat style, it was in a book on felting. The pattern seemed really interesting and I really liked the knitted design. I had to have it for my pattern collection, so I made a copy to try out at a later time.  Since then I've noticed many people wearing it and I've also noticed some really great designs and colors and everyone who I've seen wearing one always looks fabulous. It is a classic yet very chic style that will compliment any outfit, as you can see from the pictures below:
Sarah Jessica Parker during her
photo session with Annie
Leibowitz in Manhattan
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Leighton Meester on the set of Gossip Girl
Hillary Swank in P.S. I love You
A little history from Wikipedia:  The cloche hat is a fitted, bell-shaped hat that was popular during the 1920s, but was first founded in 1908 and continued to be popular until 1933.[1]  Cloche is the French word for "bell". Caroline Reboux is the creator of the cloche hat.

Cloche hats were usually made of felt so that they conformed to the head.[1] The hat was typically designed to be worn low on the forehead, with the wearer's eyes only slightly below the brim.[1]  By 1928/29, it became fashionable to turn the brims on cloche hats upwards. This style remained prevalent throughout the early 1930s until the cloche hat became obsolete around 1933/34.

Often, different styles of ribbons affixed to the hats indicated different messages about the wearer. Several popular messages included: An arrow-like ribbon which indicated a girl was single but had already given her heart to someone, a firm knot which signaled marriage or a flamboyant bow which indicated the wearer was single and interested in mingling.
[2]  Cloches were made of beads or lace for evening wear, for cocktails, dancing or even for bridal wear.
Cloche hats' popularity and influence were overwhelming. Couture houses like Lanvin and Molyneux opened ateliers to join milliners in manufacturing the hats.[1] The hats even shaped hairstyles: the Eton crop (the short, slicked-down cut worn by Josephine Baker) became popular because it was ideal to showcase the hats' shape.[1]

In the late 1980s, inventive models of the cloche, such as Patrick Kelly's version with a buttoned brim, made a minor resurgence.[1]  Cloche hats were also featured in many designers’ Fall 2007 collections; Elle magazine called the cloche hat the "haute accessory of the moment" in its September 2007 issue.[1]  The cloche hat has been worn by actress Angelina Jolie in the 2008 film Changeling.
Following the Cloche's resurgence in 2007, modern versions of the hat have emerged, often reflecting the region of the milliner. In 2009, Violina Couture Millinery of California introduced the demi-cloche, a variant of the cloche which allows more of the wearer's hair to be exposed.

[1] ^ a b c d e f g Vargas, Whitney (September 2007). "Head Start". Elle: 190.
^ Thomas, Pauline (March 2004). "Hats and Hair Fashion". Hats and Hair Fashion.

I have always admired the classic styles from the 1920's, I believe it was one of the best fashion eras, from  hairstyles and hats, to shoes and accessories.  There has been many updates to the cloche's design as you can see here:

Giving them a more modern look, with different colors and accessories.
Symply Smashing & FannyMae
Found on Etsy at Boring Sidney

While the original designs from the 1920's were made with felt to mold to the wearer's head, now-a-days this style is being recreated in many different ways, including knit and crochet. 

Knit design previously found
on Etsy at Counting Stitches

Crochet design found on Etsy
at Handmade Cottage

By using different colors, weights, and blends of yarn you can get varying affects, the above design from Handmade Cottage was crochet using a chunky wool blend in a beautiful charcoal color. 

I can't wait to get started on the crochet pattern, which I just received today along with a skein of Berroco Comfort Chunky yarn in black and a vintage style button designed by Susan Clarke Originals.  So stay tuned, I will keep you posted on my progress.

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