Welcome to the new adventures of an aspiring, self-taught bespoke millinery designer, following in the footsteps of my great-granny, Mary “Mernie” Blair [the one seated in the framed photo above], owner of the 1950s Vancouver boutique Emerald Hats, whose storefront was in an arcade of shops called ‘The Village Green’ at 2537 Granville Street (a few doors up from the famous Aristocratic lunch counter where my mother said she used to go when she worked summers at the shop for pocket money). The cute little teal blue beret hanging on the bottom far right is the only hat of great-granny’s that I personally inherited, but the hat box top was a serendipitous discovery in the basement of an old house I lived in… it turned out my roommate’s grandmother had made yearly shopping trips to Vancouver from the prairies and would only buy her hats at my great-granny’s boutique.
This is as much an exploration of this family tradition and the business my great-grandmother owned and operated in the 40s and 50s. My great-granny, granny and my mother are all gone now, but I have some stories and photos to help me paint a clearer picture of the ancestor that inspires me.. Mother always said that Mernie made hats for the Queen Mother*, so if that’s true, there are obviously some big shoes to fill… but luckily hats come easier to me than making shoes.
I’m still just barely starting out, so expect a lot of experiments and documenting of my process, including plenty of failures. Contact me here, especially if you know of (or have any of) my great-granny’s work!
[*Unconfirmed, but nonetheless awesome factoid I hope will prove to be true]
If you’ve been following along, you probably saw this coming before I did.
UPDATE: @hezmerelde is now on Twitter, too.