Early Wednesday morning my friend Mearah swung by to primp and prep for our first Ladies Tea at Devon. Neither of us had attended such an event but thankfully it was the first one of its kind so all of us were excited about having no expectations. Upon arrival we’d be meeting my other friends Beth, Claudia and Sharilyn who all were kind enough to be my hat models for the day. We arrived in time for the contest and “parade” and while Caron Kressley was not in attendance (he did so adore my duck hat from 2010, poo) I managed to hit it off with Bill Henley who made for a great consolation prize. We paraded ourselves in front of the judges and Diamond Tooth emerged victorious, placing fourth among excellent company.
I of course chose to wear an entire Guinea Hen on my head which, being the most in-season option my butcher could provide, made for a sensational dinner as well as a fun hat.
You will see this same hen make a guest appearance in a few weeks as part of a short video profile about taste makers in Philadelphia: she was a dream to work with. Absolutely no drama. But I digress. I fasbricated some new, and sourced some classics for the rest of my gal pals ranging from tastefully conservative to somewhat more exotic. When I’m not crafting my own hat bases for my pieces, I pair up antique hats gifted to me or sourced from flea markets that I collect. Along with all the trinkets I collect from the street, it’s profoundly rewarding to marry up materials after having held onto them so long. Of course, what I’m doing is certainly nothing new or that shocking- I just hope that I can do the legacy of high society ladies from the late 1800s justice with my interpretation of their taxidermy hat fashion. I do understand that taxidermy is not for everyone, as I’ve said many times. How boring would the world be if we all had the same tastes? Lucky for me I was in the presence of some classy, kind and open-minded ladies.
As you can see, my ladies and I had a great time. Beth, on the left, is wearing the Prairie Chicken Hat from my website while Claudia sports a gorgeous Bantam rooster saddle mounted on a vintage brown velvet beret. Next is Mearah with a rehabbed vintage blue cap with a rooster wing and glass charms affixed to it. I couldn’t find any shots of all of us together but here is Sharylinn (below, center) wearing a fascinator I made from (tada!) more Guinea hen feathers and some antique cage veiling. It’s hard to see but some rooster tail feathers are peeking out here and there as well, plus assorted gems:
After we did a little winners’ photo trot, the whole gaggle of us headed across the grounds to the Ladies’ tea, of which my friend Jen McGowen did a sensation job planning. I was actually on the planning committee with a dozen or so other women, but spreading the word and promotion was about the extent of my planning. Jen seemed to shoulder the bulk of managing this event with the grace and panache of the Fresian horses I was drooling over later that same day. Once under the tent we ran into some old friends and made new ones. I was making every attempt to visually memorize all the beautiful dresses and shoes I saw:
I could sit and watch pretty ladies, dressed up and socializing for hours. Sometimes I still feel slightly intimidated as my financial status does not allow me to dress in much aside from second-hand or hand-made, but seeing as one cannot buy style, it levels the playing field for me a bit. Not like I needed it: these ladies are all so kind and friendly and sociable it just makes for a truly enjoyable and uplifting experience. It warms the cockles of my heart to see a great group of women from assorted backgrounds coming together to not only sip champagne and nibble cucumber sammies (my FAVE) but also to simply enjoy each other, our health, and how amazing life is that it allowed us to spend such a luxurious morning together. Just look at these happy faces! I kind of fell in love with the three ladies in cream in the left of this photo. I didn’t actually learn their names but they were a dream team.
After the tea wrapped up, a few of us stayed back to soak up some pony action. Ladies side-saddle is a perennial favorite of mine to watch, and this year I caught some of the Fresian dressage (I could be wrong and probably am- it looked kind of like dressage but not quite. The riders wore top hats and brightly colored coats, and in one event the horses pulled them in little chariots!). Of course I need to bone up of my pony facts but I do absorb a thing or two from other spectators who are generous enough to share their knowledge with me. Example: there is an entire industry which manufactures hair extensions for horses!