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November 22, 2017
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A selection of designs from the Moody & Farrell S/S 2014 lookbook. Courtesy of Moody & Farrell.

The hat is a British staple: whether it is the trusty wool bobble hat that your grandma knitted all those years ago, or one a little more daring that waits in your closet. Hats offer an individuality and style statement that other fashion accessories just can't quite live up to.

Madame Peripetie Moody and Farrell Top Hats SS13
The Moody & Farrell SS13 'Traveling
Maurice' Collection, 
photographed by
Madame Peripetie. Source:
moodyandfarrell.co.uk.

Sitting above an ornate fireplace in the Designer Showrooms at London Fashion Week's Somerset House this year was the S/S 2014 collection of Moody & Farrell's hand-woven headpieces. It was intriguing, especially for a writer that is always attracted to a good hat. As Moody & Farrell's press release cheekily explains, the reason they make hats is quite simply: "because we all have heads."

Combining the names of the sole owner Eloise Moody and her late grandfather Michael John Farrell, the London-based company was established in 2009 and inspired by Farrell as "the only hat wearer in an otherwise bareheaded family." And so, Moody & Farrell have been making beautiful hats ever since.

Eloise Moody graduated with a BA in design from Goldsmiths University of London. She then began training as a hatter with the legendary designer Jane Smith. The label's S/S 2014 collection is a continuation of Moody & Farrell's S/S 2013 collection of straw boaters, bowler hats and modern-day interpretation of the bonnet.

This new collection, however, feels much more intricate. Described in their press release as a "three-way love child of wrought ironwork, Elizabethan dress and traditional straw work," the collection combines the age-old techniques of straw weaving (taught to Eloise by an 80-year-old Oxfordshire craftswoman), carefully crafted hatpins and handmade wooden combs.

"I love to make things - I think the act of creativity is the most rewarding. The great thing about hats is that they are wilfully sculptural, which means they are open to any material, process and technique. This is very freeing for a designer and allows me to investigate many avenues. If hat-making is a traditional craft, I like to multiply it by other artisanal crafts to create something super interesting, that has history and depth," Moody told The Genteel.

Each straw piece is woven into intricate, brocade-like patterns, held in place with wheat ear hat pins, or into extravagant but equally beautiful hats, reminiscent of Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was often painted during the 18th-century wearing extravagant, feather-trussed headpieces. Each design by Moody & Farrell breathes new life into the humble straw hat, somehow managing to capture an element of luxury each time.

Related: A Milliner in Brooklyn Talks to The Genteel About the Magic of Hat-Making.

But straw hats are not all Moody & Farrell have to offer their "bareheaded" customer. Their A/W 2012/13 collection was made up of 70's inspired oversized fedoras, boaters and top hats, in a range of dark purples and glossy greens. The A/W 2011 and S/S 2012 stepped more toward the avant-garde with headpieces made from rope, leather and wood in the shape of topless Deerstalkers, origami and an emerald velvet peak hat, reminiscent of a Japanese tea house. In 2009 and 2010 they even brought back the fez.

Moody & Farrell A/W 2012-13 Look. Source: moodyandfarrell.co.uk.
Moody & Farrell A/W 2012-13 piece.
Source: moodyandfarrell.co.uk.

And in 2010, in collaboration with Bobbin Bicycles, Moody & Farrell created "Mr Benn," a bowler hat cycle helmet, that they claimed would allow "the wearer to maraud around the city as a traditional English gent." There's also the "Sherlock", a Deerstalker helmet that they felt was suitable for "sleuthing and imaginary country pursuits."

The collaboration didn't stop at hats; there are also sailor's and nurse's reflective capes and dashing tweed reflective spats. "I wanted to design bikewear that you don't have to change out of whenever you arrive somewhere," Moody wrote Rebecca Gonsalves for The Independent in June 2010. Never has safety gear looked quite so chic.

The pieces are all beautifully designed and made, but they become even more impressive when you realise that not only are they all drawn, cut, shaped and stitched in a little workshop in London, but they are also all made by Moody herself.

As she explains to Little Scraps of Paper in a short video, there is no real formula when it comes to designing a piece; the initial idea can even come in a dream, but the hat making process is one of evolution: "Hats, because they have to go on your head, and they have to look flattering or interesting or however you want that hat to be, until you've actually put it on your head and got the scale right, and the curves right and what the material looks like next to your hair, you don't know what it will be."

Related: The Krochet Kids International (KKi) Non-Profit Organisation Aims to Change The World, One Stitch at a Time.

If hat-making is a traditional craft, I like to multiply it by other artisanal crafts to create something super interesting, that has history and depth.

Despite taking on this solo and painstaking craftsmanship workload, Moody's credentials remain impressive. She has made hats for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, a window display for the Oxford Street Selfridges and her S/S 2012 wooden hats, all hand-shaped, also made it into the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

Moody's work has also appeared in Vogue, Fashion156 and Observer magazine. The company has stockists in the UK, Italy and Japan and Moody's skills can even bring your own ideas to life as she offers a bespoke service on her website.

This season Moody & Farrell made hats for the S/S 2014 Meadham Kirchhoff's show and will also be providing their skills for the upcoming Paddington Bear film - yes, they are making that beloved hat.

While you might not think that a hat suits everyone, perhaps Moody & Farrell can convince you otherwise. We do all have heads, after all.

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