Wednesday, June 22, 2011

il-mara ta' llum

Ain't I one lucky girl to have come across so much stuff over the course of one day to have enough material to 'bla'/blog about.. above are the buttons a workmate has so generously passed on to me (amongst much more stuff that has reached me in a constant trickle.. making my days at work all that much nicer!) .. for these lovely buttons I'm prepared to give up many a summer eve.. I shall dedicate time and energy to find them suitable contexts and subsequently, homes.

And below are Butterick and Simplicity patterns my mother had stocked up on when she had me.. and perhaps even before that.. come to think of it, most patterns are (thankfully) not from the 80s, so these patterns must have belonged to someone else in the family before they reached us. In any case I daily thank the heavens above for having a mother afflicted with the same hoarding instinct; so much has survived because of our genetic coding.

And now to the real issue (*pun, however stretched, intended) behind this post.. During the same clear-out, my mum found and broght to my attention, several copies of what must have been a ladies' publication in Maltese from the early 80s.. and perhaps even slightly before that. Il-Mara ta' llum.. full of must have appeared seemingly useful for 'il-mara' (i.e. woman) .. a bargain at just 35c.. and what's more.. edited by a much younger Gloria Mizzi.

And amongst cooking, make-up, styling and crochet tips, astrological predictions and doctor's orders, much fun was to be had in just leafing through the ads. sections.. here are a couple of things that stood out.
Maltese Beauties on the covers..

Disco.. all the rage!

Marsovin Sauternes.. l-inbid ghall- Mara ta' Llum

nice and to the point...


Monday, June 20, 2011

It is her...

This is Mary Debono of whom I spoke in the pevious post..

Not only was she talented, she was also blessed with a pair of gentle eyes and an approachable look. That's a face one could so easily trust. I wish I had that.

By way of correction: In the previous post I meant to say that I've met this woman's grandaughter not great-grandaughter!

It is said, if a milliner leaves a pin in a hat...

... then it will return to her!

I'm back with a story and the spoils of generosity at its finest.

ONOBED is the shop that once stood proudly in Rahal Gdid square, the life of creative entrepreneur and HATMAKER Mary Debono; a creative livelyhood earned, a name secured and another reason for me to cry over the fact that I was born too late. A woman whose refined sense for detail, quality materials and style extended to encompass most aspects of her life, so much so that she seldom showed up in her shop, an extension of her house and home, without her hair and make-up in place. The shop in itself was a hub for fashion-loving locals (and by locals we really ought to include several localties) and friends who depended entirely on Mrs. Debono's hat-making skills and suggestions. Her extensive travelling related to her craft, the trips abroad in search of specific materials (plumage, flowers and the like) made her and her five daughters, for whom she also sewed clothes, a reliable point of reference in a time where Tv and Fashion magazines in Malta were all but scarce.

I came to know one of her great grand daughters, a most lovely and generous woman indeed, who happens to remember her 'granny' fondly. A while back she kindly got in touch with a most wonderful proposal.. I was at work when I recieved her call amidst cries from seven year-olds who insist on holding duels with their scissors and paint-dipped brushes.. I was as far away from the blissful weekends that followed her lovely offering of many of the remaining pieces of (even more generously, washed and dried) felt from her grandma's workshop. How could I, a hat lover and wearer and aspiring-maker say no!? In gratitude I decided to blog about this lovely woman and her progeny, post photos of some of her creations which her granddaughter kept for herself and four hats I executed in an inspired feverish weekend in her honour. I can now safely say I love making hats as much as I love making shoes and dresses.. and that is worrying indeed!

Here are two of MaryDebono's hats, a blue felt one with a crochet trim and a pink one with prettily cut and threaded leaves forming a band around the head.

A lovely heavy blanket with a crocheted trim, a suede and felt (if I remember correctly) vest in a geometric design and a leaf border matching the hat above as well as a beautifully crafted crochet over-dress.

Here's a very small part of the aforementioned donation, spools of coloured thread and shaped felt pieces in several colours. By shaped I mean steamed and head-blocked.

And following are the four hats I had promised myself and the hat gods I'd carry out; they're a tribute to the lady with so many talents as well as the best excuse to start materializing some of the 100s of designs I've carried out in the past few years.. I'd like to think that every hour spent sketching historical hats from costume and fashion encyclopedias didn't go to waste.
Here's a purple, stiff-felt hat inspired by the loose cuts and natural flow in turn-of-the-century hats often made out of textile. Purple and pearly and a serious case of pin-pricking.

A brown furry-felt cloche hat (I've been informed that Mary Debono used to refer to this material as rabbit's wool) with peacock green threaded trim, feathers and a pair of my aunt's earrings from the early 90s.

Red rabbit's wool dome of a hat with a grey trim. Inspired by the tasselled Moroccan Fez hat I had promised a friend but never ended up buying since I had spent all my pennies on streetfood.

And the fourth, a playful grey hat with a hole for those occasions when big hair simply won't fit underneath your hat. I have spent many a bus ride contemplating possible ways in which to solve this problem and consecutively how to introduce such a radical-'hole'-in-a-hat.
This hat came out of the residue left behind from casual but ongoing reading about russian constructivism from heavily illustrated books and sites.

So yes, I've been keeping uber busy, tending to old lingerie, Stephen Fry's chronicles and furry cats with a penchant for curling up in an unmovable ball on my sewing chair. Ah well, half days, glorious half days!

You may view each hat in detail on my facebook page:!/babettopolis