This is the question that The Textile Society recently asked us. We applied for their museum award to display our most unusual collection of hats. Whilst we didn’t receive the £5000 that we applied for, they asked us to rework the project for a lesser amount which would lay the groundwork to realise our vision.
The Textile Society is a charity that promotes the study of textile disciplines and celebrates the history and culture of textiles, both traditional and contemporary. They do this through the awards they make to textile students, museums and events such as their antique textile fairs in London and Manchester.
Planning how to allocate a budget, no matter the size is always a challenge. The desire to make every single penny count and have a lasting impact is always at the forefront of our minds. As museum workers, we have become experts in making a little go a long way and ensuring there is a legacy to everything we do.
With that in mind, we submitted a research proposal for £975 to find out more about Donald Lovat Fraser who designed and made over 100 hats in our collection. Hat Works volunteers will be familiar with these hats as they helped freeze, catalogue, label and photograph this colourful array of ‘Hats Through the Ages’ as will visitors to London Hat Week’s Supplier Fair in 2019, where we showcased two hats by the man himself.
The research will eventually lead to a new display of Mr Fraser’s hats at Hat Works. This collection has unrivaled potential to explore the relationship between costume design, couture millinery and the power hats have to do good – more to follow on this!
We are thrilled that The Textile Society has recognised the merit of this work and appreciate the helping hand they are giving. Now we need your help – please get in touch if you have any information about Donald Lovat Fraser. We have some leads thanks to a self-published promotional leaflet found amongst boxes of hats donated to the museum. We know he was a contemporary and friend of the late John Boyd, that he studied at Nottingham College of Art and he was a ‘millinery expert’ on TV shows in the 90s.