Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Records get new life as headwear"

from - by Dominic Chessum

They are a musical relic of a bygone age but it seems today's Ipod generation have found a unique use for old vinyl records.

While plugged in to the latest music, downloaded onto their MP3 players, two young fashionistas from Norfolk have created a new line in headgear that pays homage to the roots of playing music at home.

The pair, who style themselves Bad Hatters, have taken to making wacky headgear out of old singles and LPs - and what started as a hobby is spinning quickly into big business.

The elaborate fascinators are selling like hotcakes and have even attracted celebrity interest.

Now Kirsty Alston, 22, and Hollie Etheridge, 21, who are both graphic art students at Norwich School of Art and Design, are working flat out just to keep up with demand.

And with the slogan "Every day is ladies' day," they are hoping to cause a storm at Ascot next year.

Ms Alston said: "We have sold about 155 so far and have an order for 200 more for a festival next year.

"We are also preparing another 50 for a special hat launch we are holding in Norwich next month."

The pair, who share a house in Alby, near Aylsham, began making the fascinators in April 2006. Both are into dance music and spent hours listening to dance records until, one day, they got out a glue gun and decided to do something a little bit different with them.

Ms Etheridge said: "We took 50 of them to the Glade music festival near Reading this year and we sold them all by Saturday afternoon. All different kids of people buy them and the bigger ones are popular with the drag queens in Soho in London.

"We did some for a wedding and we are hoping to see them at Ascot next year."

The hats range in price from £10 to £30 and can feature flowers, sequins, feathers and gemstones atop a vinyl disc the pair get from charity shops.

The pair also take commissions through their website and say they have several celebrities interested in their work.

But though the fascinating idea may be on the verge of making it big, neither has forgotten why they started.

"Life is just better with hats," said Ms Alston.

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