Summer Hats of Lavender and Heather.
But from across the Atlantic comes a real novelty, nothing more or less than hats woven from lavender stalks and twigs of Highland heather. Those familiar with English gardens know the lavender color shading to gray-green of the sterns of the sweet-scented lavender flower, arid no one who has seen the Scotch heather can forget its exquisite coloring. Some clever person evolved the idea of weaving these shrubs into hat shapes, so we now have hats made of the stems of lavender and of twined heather:
The lavender hats at first glance appear to be woven of rather coarse silvery straw, but on looking closer it is seen that the stalks of the lavender bush are woven in and out, forming the shape.
They are woven when the lavender is fresh picked and the stems pliable: afterward they are dried, when the stalks become hard and tough, not brittle. By some process the little bud-like flowers of the lavender are preserved, and these are used as trimming, sprays of them being poised in osprey form at one side. They have rather the effect of dried fancy grasses, and are most attractive. Pale lavender satin ribbon put around the crown in folds and tied in a smashing bow at one side, the lavender flowers pulled through the center loop, is a favorite trimming for these novel hats. Most fragrant these hats are, and need no sachet bags tucked into the crown to perfume them.
The hats made all of heather are quite as fascinating and more delicate in effect. The little mauve bells of the heather are used as trimming, the shape itself being covered with the brown mossy stems. Usually the model chosen for a heather hat is of fairly small size, with high crown and not too wide brim. Then a wreath of the heather blossoms is laid around the crown, or the crown itself is woven of sprigs of heather bearing the little flowers, and the trimming is of mauve-colored ribbon. If some of the rare white heather can be obtained to use in trimming it is considered particularly desirable, but it must be the real thing, picked on the moors, not grown in a conservatory, or no good luck will come of it.
St. Louis [MO] Globe-Democrat 20 June 1909: p. 54
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Lavender, in the Victorian language of flowers, symbolises “devotion,” although it may also signal “distrust,” based on a legend that the fatal asp was brought to Cleopatra in a basket of lavender.
White heather, of course, is considered a lucky talisman:
Happy is the married life of her who wears the white heather at her wedding…Every Highland knows that white heather brings rare good luck to the finer, and that the luck can be passed on to his friends….They say in the far north that when the sheep, hardy devourers of the tender stem of the heather, come across it in their grazing, they avoid harming it, and that the grouse have never been known to crush it with their wings…On great occasions the table of a Highland chieftain would be poor indeed without its sprig of white heather. When the heir-presumptive reaches man’s estate he wears it for luck, and it is considered the height of hospitality to present it to the stranger guest.
The Star [Saint Peter Port, Guernsey England] 28 July 1885: p. 4
Mrs Daffodil regrets that she has not been able to locate a contemporary photo-gravure of these fascinating objects. They sound quite delightful–save for one caveat: these fragrant hats will, inevitably, draw bees. A few sprigs of marigold, geranium, or basil tucked among the flowers should repel these useful, yet unsettling, insects.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.