Tuesday, 25 November 2014

St. Catherine's Day

St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of milliners. (Actually, she's quite the multi-tasker, being patron saint to a very long list of other constituencies and occupations.) Her special day is November 25. Traditionally, milliners make their unmarried female staff over the age of 25 a yellow and green hat (or fascinator) for the occasion, kind of a queen for a day thing.

I know, right?

Fortunately, modern milliners are making new traditions to celebrate millinery and each other, like hatty parties and gadabouts that have nothing to do with age or marital status, or even gender.

I have a lot to thank St. Catherine for this year. From the steady stream of clients I have had the good fortune to serve, who have found me despite minimal appearances at craft sales and St. Lawrence Market, to the astonishing outcome of the inaugural Queen's Plate millinery design competition, I am one happy and grateful milliner.

That's why I commissioned a commemorative pendant to be made by Maria Lopez , one of my erstwhile vendor neighbours at St. Lawrence Market. (I'm the "erst" one; Maria is still there.) Maria is fabulous with resin, which is why I asked her to make me a little keepsake with this lovely picture of St. Catherine by Bernardino Luini on one side.

This on the other:

A buckram tiara.

I was making a hat block with overlapping layers of wet buckram, and when I trimmed off the excess, this cool little tiara was the serendipitous result. I kept it, with no particular plan for it, just because I loved the whimsy of it, the way it accidentally turned out to be such a perfect little thing.

Winning the Queen's Plate competition gave me the idea of adopting it as my personal cipher. A buckram scrap seems a fittingly tongue-in-cheek crown for such an ephemeral moment of millinery glory. And St. Catherine's Day of this auspicious year seems like the perfect occasion to rebrand myself, with my new business name and logo:

And here is the St. Catherine pendant Maria made:

I love it. We're near inseparable.

Thank you, Maria, and thank you, St. Catherine, for your many blessings. Your devoted secular acolyte, Anne Livingston, Milliner.

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