This hat would be quite in fashion today as an English fascinator. However, I find the textile story behind the fashion equally fascinating. The hat wearer? A relative? Yes. My great grandmother and namesake, Charlotte Mary Woodward(nee Mcintyre), expecting my grandmother she unexpectantly had her while visiting Chicago from Ontario and perhaps bought the hat there too. The dress billows like a sail of Egyptian cotton. Where did the dress material come from and the dressmaker? Tracing the thread of the dress back to its source and in awe of how the textile traditon has changed over the past 100 years interests me.
By virtue of my being a bag designer, I became a textile designer. At art school - the Nova Scotia School of Art & Design - the first CONCEPTUAL art school (didnyaknow) in Canada back in 1969 and prior to that a very traditional art school in the Group of Seven painterly tradition (the G7 were boxed up and put in storage), I was taught the IDEA is foremost and the technique would follow in an ancillary fashion. At 17 years old, arguing which came first was specious as both idea and technique eluded me quite happily being my first year away from home. However, something must have stuck with me in this approach, as the idea to make a bag that looked like a paper bag came to me first, then inventing a textile technique: our signature waxed cotton - followed by necessity. But I could argue before that I was mucking around with waxed cotton and a an old sheet when I was 10.... so who knows. The more orthodox approach seems to be to study textile design first and then a bag is one of many designs in a supporting roll. Surface decoration intimidated me as how could I possibly say anything new or interesting amidst the many unbelievably talented textile designers whose focus is the surface decoration of material .... I did not want to simply copy someone or do something that had been done before. The art school days turned me into a bit of an iconoclast and 'hat' disturber if you will.... Now I am not suggesting that one wears our BBB as a hat in lieu of an Easter bonnet, but on occasion I have seen it done to some overall dramatic effect. Times do change and today, we are more likely to carry a bag than wear a bonnet. Yes?