Headdress traditions on the menu during Longacre tea party

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published August 4, 2014

 TaMia Harrison models a fascinator, one of many to be discussed during the Headdresses – Then and Now tea.

TaMia Harrison models a fascinator, one of many to be discussed during the Headdresses – Then and Now tea.

Photo courtesy of Janna Coumoundouros

FARMINGTON HILLS — Ladies, get our your pearls, pillbox hats, hatbox purses, fascinators and white gloves — it’s tea time.

Headdresses – Then and Now will be discussed over a 1 p.m. Aug. 12 tea at the Longacre House, 24705 Farmington Road, between 10 Mile and 11 Mile roads.

“Teas and hats kind of go together. If you are going to a tea, you want a hat or fascinator, or something on your head to go along with traditions,” guest speaker Rachelle Willnus, of Farmington Hills, said.

Willnus, who owns the Farmington Hills-based hat business Derby Hats by Rachelle, said elegant headdresses go a long way with her.

“The biggest takeaway is people will learn the appreciation of wearing something on your head,” Willnus said. “This is what I’ve noticed: When you wear something on your head, people notice you more in a positive way. It is an expression.”

During the afternoon tea, Willnus and tea specialist Linda Pudlik will present the headdress discussion with a focus on women’s headdresses from the past to the present.

A light luncheon and unlimited gourmet tea will be on the menu, fancy enough to make even British royalty a tad green.

Made from loose tea into a concentrate, these “fabulous” drinks — with names such as Velvet Fog and Moonlight Sonata, and flavors including toffee, cream, vanilla, cherry and chocolate — will not disappoint, much like the conversation, Cultural Arts Assistant Carolyn Powers said.

“All these little ingredients they put in it make it gourmet and exciting, and most of these ladies are fans of teas, so they get unlimited tea served to them in traditional style by ladies who wear aprons,” Powers said.

Powers added that the tea event, in its seventh year, has hosted over 65 discussions, including everything from the history of aprons to a lesson on Pocahontas.

“We’ve had … just a whole wide variety of topics that we’ve covered throughout the years,” Powers said.

With fascinators originating in England and becoming popular in America, Willnus said they can come in headbands, clips or combs.

She uses sinamay —  an organic material originating from the abaca plant’s fiber — to make fascinators.

She said the fascinator was a staple in England for ladies attending teas.

“It became popular in America around the time of (Duchess Catherine Middleton),” she said.

The history of the fascinator, though, has a less-than-glamorous beginning.

“It really started out as a doily on the head,” Willnus said. “It did not become ornate until much later.”

The hat, on the other hand, served a functional purpose during Victorian times, although it was also used to showcase one’s wealth.

“The larger the hat, the wealthier you were,” Willnus said. “During wartime, it became functional.”

The fashionable-functional cycle of hats is coming back around to being fashionable, especially in the states.

Whether wearing a hat to show off your personality, or sporting a fascinator as a statement piece, the history of headdresses, how to make them and what significance they have to teas, will be discussed during the event.

“The hat is a dynamic piece of expression,” Willnus said. “Women who wear hats and fascinators tend to be outgoing and expressive. I can put anyone in a hat and anyone in a fascinator. You can look very elegant.”

The next tea will take place Sept. 9 and will feature a presentation by Yule Lavender Farm on how to grow the perennial and also on the importance of bees. 

For more information or to preregister for $25, call (248) 473-1870. Ages 8 and older are welcome.