This was a dream commission. I was asked to make a hat for the private view of an exhibition about Charles Darwin, to be worn by its glamorous curator. Darwin was fascinated by the markings on the Argus pheasant’s feathers, and had several samples in his collection which were to be displayed at the museum. A single glorious feather was donated by a local bird breeder for the purpose of the hat, and normal pheasant feathers were used for the base piece, reserved from the last bird I plucked for supper!
I covered a blocked net base in olive silk organza to create a light but stable foundation. Next, a wing shape was cut from leather, and covered with common pheasant feathers to make a base for the main attraction to grow from. The Argus pheasant feather was curled, stitched to the hat base and supported with wires at intervals to ensure it remained stable. As with all my hats, it remained light and away from the wearer’s sight line to avoid the “hat wearing its mistress” issue.
Bespoke millinery prices from £300.
Argus pheasant feathers are not available for conservation reasons, so alternatives may have to be used.