You can almost feel the night air. The smell of a beautiful evening and the anticipation of what will follow. While Havana's Paseo del Prado looks strangely empty, I can't help but respect the design, the thought and the work that goes into creating fashion like this. It's not couture, but it's beautiful and accessible, at least in style.
So here are my top picks from Chanel and Karl as they cruise around in Havana. Beautiful accessories, wearable fashion and flats. Flats = thank God. I've always loved flats with skirts and the way women look when they can actually walk.
And for the finishing touch, classic panama-style hats and an assortment of berets and headbands are paired with just about everything. Hats = the ultimate accessory!
Viva la revolución!
And if you want to listen to the beautiful French- Cuban fusion sounds at the start or spend 20 minutes to view the whole thing in cruise motion, then pour yourself a dark rum on ice, click through here and enjoy!
"When you buy something from an artist, you're buying more than an object. You're buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation. You're buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You're not buying just one thing; you're buying a piece of a soul ...a small piece of someone else's life."
Artisan, Artist or Craftsperson - if you are not someone who makes things with their head and their heart and their hands, then you may not have ever given all this much thought.
But for people who strive to create art or products or goods based on an original idea that sparks up in their mind, or a long-history of traditional skills and the gradual learning and refinement of historical skills, this will all ring so true.
For creative types and creators, my feeling is that the receptiveness to your craft never turns off. The more you do it, the more creative you become. Of course - it's the practice of creativity. The more you let your mind dream up ideas and think them through, then the more these ideas bubble up and you are itching to try them all. Every day brings a flow of impressions, colours, lines, shapes, thoughts - a multitude of moments where inspiration strikes.
But there's a reality to working as an artisan. We have to decide which ideas are worthy of investing our time. Which ones do we have a significant likelihood of actually pulling off in reality? And are we operating in a zone of commercial-reality? Will this product ever sell and can we make it for a realistic price? Can we access the materials that we envisage? And do we know how to use the materials? Or do we have start a process of experimentation - for days or weeks or months? That can be really costly when it doesn't work out!
It's the inspiration that keeps you going at such times. The inspiration and the vision in your head drives it all.
As a hatmaker, for me that motivation is all about beauty and the Cinderella moment - the moment when someone tries on the hat that you have designed and created and they see that they are transformed. I guess it's an advanced case of the Fairy Godmother Syndrome.
We all buy on price to some degree or another - we have to of course. In a world that churns out so many products that bring no beauty and precious little function, I'm keen to support the creators!
So to those who can and do buy any product of original creation or hand-made effort - no matter what it is - I hope you recognise the full breadth of what you are really supporting. And thank you from one of the creators!
After January slips through my fingers, suddenly it's February.
And that means it's time to let my mind wander around the beguiling subject of designing new hats for the year ahead and beyond. What will I do? What will I make in 2016?
It's a different state of mind - it's not sensible or business-like (that comes later). But once I start to think of hat designs, then so many possibilities and variations come to mind. They always do. There are never any shortage of ideas.
People often suggest to me that I look at the work of other milliner's or look at what else is in the store, but I find that a risky thing to do. Once you've seen it, it can influence you way too much and you loose the originality of your own style and designs. I prefer to set my mind to "DREAM" and see what happens.
I love this time and could happily live in a dreamy design world everyday.
Stay shady. Stay watching.
It's hard to know how start a blog. It feels a bit momentous and a bit like starting a postcard where you have an awful lot to say, but limited time and space.
So perhaps I should start how I mean to continue - by being myself and starting to talk about one of my primary passions in life - hats.
I have been making hats for many moons now, after starting the learning process at Central Saint Martin's School of Art & Design in London. With heartfelt thanks to Serafina Grafton-Beeves, the short course was intended to produce one hat and I think by the end of the first day, I had blocked up five. It was a relief to find a creative passion where I loved every single component of it. I loved the glossy straws, crackly braids and velvety felts. I loved the quest for perfection in building a sculpture for the face and a life began for me, with endless streams of ideas and designs bubbling up inside my head.
And so for many years, I have considered the hat to be the ultimate fashion accessory. To me, there is no other accessory that transforms the wearer so quickly and effectively.
Sometimes, beautifully decorative, sometimes functional - a hat transforms how others see you and how you feel. A hat encourages and enables you to transform, not just physically, but in how you speak and move and behave.
For me, a great hat gives me confidence and makes me feel fantastic. It encourages my extroverted side and I have made so many friends through the production and wearing of hats, that it has been transformational in that way too!
With thanks and a smile,