I created my first hat for a cabaret show this past July. I wanted something that would stand out in the crowd and capture a feel that I was going for. My song was from the movie version of the musical “Chicago” and while I don’t have Catherine Zeta-Jones’ (or even Queen Latifah’s) figure, I still wanted to fit my costume into that theme. The best way to do that would be through a fantastic head piece.
I purchased a black silk top hat online and while waiting for the delivery, I began designing my topper. I knew that the top hat would be the focal point but I also didn’t want it to be too busy. I wandered for hours in Jo-Ann’s and Hobby Lobby. I spent time scouring online looking for tutorials, Etsy stores, and anything else that could lead me into this world that I loved but wasn’t sure I could break into it. I had always worn hats of the novelty and fleece sort – could I pull off the more elaborate ones? Was my face made for a bird cage veil? Shouldn’t I be worrying about squeezing my body into a corset?
I selected my colors and my theme. I knew that my costume would be mostly black and I wanted the hat to stand apart and catch the eye with reds – but not Ronald McDonald red. I decided to go ahead and get the birdcage veiling. And after messing with it for a few days, I decided that for my first time out, simple was the best. I used a sheer, almost maroon fabric and had it cascade around the brim and down the back. I added a large French veiling bow and topped the front off with a black silk rose. While it wasn’t the most exciting thing on stage that night (I was in competition with other burlesque dancers), I still felt awesome for creating a headpiece that I still get complimented on to this day.
A few months later for another show, I decided to make head pieces to go along with the theme – a Cher/Christina tribute show for the movie ‘Burlesque’ premiere. For one of my numbers to Cher’s Dark Lady, I created a headpiece inspired by the video out of so much tulle, rhinestones and glitter that I ended up making everyone sparkle. The top hat that I did for “Lady Marmalade” was my favorite to date and the inspiration for it came from a flower accent I saw at Hobby Lobby.
Since then, I’ve been working on fascinators, headpieces for shows and costumes and hats for cocktail hours and small parties. I’ve been learning a lot and have found that it’s very easy to fall in love with a habit that has me looking at Craigslist for fabric remains that can make an interesting accent.