Every woman should own a blazer. A blazer is the ideal piece of clothing to throw on in the morning to instantly pull together an outfit. One of the most easily wearable “menswear” items for women, blazers (along with sports coats) were initially reserved for sportsmen and were especially popular in Britain. During the 1920s, many men were searching for clothing that was versatile and could be dressed up or down (and that was also significantly less formal than a suit), and so they adopted the blazer and revolutionized its look. The blazer took a little longer to catch on with women; Coco Chanel designed a version in the 1920s but it wasn’t until the 1930s that blazers became staples in women’s wardrobes.
Regular readers of the Hitchcock Madrona Blog probably know that we love menswear. Fittingly, we’ve created our own version of this iconic coat. Hitchcock Madrona blazers are entirely made of wool and they all feature Italian buttons and vintage fabric for the trim. Ours is a little bit longer than the traditional blazer and is perhaps a little closer in feel to a sports coat. This practical, warm and stylish coat comes in an array of colors and is sure to be a favorite of yours for years to come.
We are open today, December 28th!
Harriet in her new MOSCOT frames! So cute!
Harriet in the late eighties/early nineties on a photo shoot, and her now (blurred in the background).
Dustin checking out a more current portrait.
Harriet has traveled the world (her father was a diplomat) and has a passion for anything ground-breaking, alive, turned-on-it’s-head, raw, woven, textured, African, and vintage (to name just a few). She has lived in Chicago, Santa Fe, Paris and now Seattle. She has a B.S. in Design (with a photo journalism minor) from University of Iowa. She went back to university in the late eighties and achieved a B.F.A in Metal Design from the University of Washington. Harriet has been working on her two passions: photography and metal design/jewelry/art for 30 years and 25 years, respectively. She is responsible for the beautiful sunset that we have blown up and mounted on the back wall of the store at the moment. She is such a creative inspiration to both Dustin and myself. As far as her jewelry line, Surplus, she specializes in steel that has been found, altered and tumbled (for up to two years on some pieces) from her favorite Seattle forge. She is also the master at incorporating found objects, usually exotic and from far flung locales, into her work.
We asked the fabulous Harriet McNamara to answer some questions for us about her jewelry and what inspires her amazing and eclectic line. We so appreciate her jewelry here at Hitchcock Madrona, and are grateful for how honest and open she was about her design process when responding to our questionnaire. Thank you so much Harriet!
How would you describe your line’s aesthetic?
I love references to history, imperfection, which is the mark of the human hand. (The less manufactured, the better.) Somewhat edgy/ethnic. If it doesn’t make a statement, I don’t bother. An overused icon is forgettable. And, it MUST be sophisticated.
When you design your jewelry, is there any particular woman whom you design for?
I design for all the women I’ve loved in past and present. Audrey Hepburn, Kate Moss, Veruschka, Julie Christie, Isak Dinesen. These women have/had not only beauty, but [also] class. Now, class is something you can’t buy. But, if you have it, you can wear anything! (And that includes our own Erica Nelson-Sheehan!)
I’m soooo sophisticated!
What is your favorite way to style your pieces?
I love to work with shapes that are similar. They can be of any material but if the shapes fight, I know I won’t win the battle in trying get a stunning result. I try not limit myself, re: size. Anything too slick relegates the piece to Louis Vuitton. And, it would be so fun to wear a bit of glitz with a t-shirt—can’t do that with “slick.” In fact, I quite dislike “slick” in general. In shoes, in clothing, in everything. [I] have a similar dislike for safe and “matchy-matchy”. What I like is surprise, humor, wit, and mystery. If a woman has those qualities we love her. The way she characterizes herself tells a lot about who she is. I never wear fleece or puffy coats!
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
All around me. Especially in my studio, glancing around at all my random stock from all over the world. I was lucky as a young person to travel. I hardly know where my mind will take me. What will remind me of the time I had an eight course French meal?!! What the women were wearing at that time was amazing. I remember, I was a post-teen and it was the mid ‘70’s. Someone sitting near me told me that to preserve “scent” you must put it on your jewels!! I’ll never forget her scent or her jewels. My best friend from college always wore a piece of jewelry with her clothing. She was near six feet tall, with chopped blonde hair. Nobody looked like her. She was absolutely unforgettable and still is. The shop girls in Paris with white t-shirts and amazing faux jewels were the trendsetters. Karl Lagerfeld gets his best ideas from them (rumor has it).
A collage of Harriet throughout her life.
What do you particularly love about designing jewelry?
I was never much interested in working with the one dimensionality of painting. I enjoy taking something like a flat piece of metal and making it a three-dimensional item. And it doesn’t have to be as exact or have an intellectual aspect, like architecture.
What would you say are three key pieces of jewelry that every woman should own?
One fabulous, huge ring (not your engagement ring). A simple but intriguingly shaped necklace (I like my tic-tac-toe necklace) that can be worn with anything. A lot of fascinating bracelets that can all be worn together.
Statement ring by Surplus.
What aspect of the design process do you find most challenging?
Deciding if the piece that I love will be loved by anyone except a runway model. I get pretty far out there with my ideas. Taking things apart has to be [a] part of my process. I hate it. I am currently working on a piece that looks like part of a robot. I adore it, but have already started taking parts off it. Tres tragic.
What clothing or jewelry designers do you admire?
I love all the unnamed jewelry designers who are street vendors in NYC. I love the flea markets in Paris and London. If I can still find Schiaparelli, Chanel or Adele Simpson in any of the vintage places, that’s my favorite! I have an old Christian Lacroix piece that I keep at my workbench. FABULOUS! Ethiopian jewelry is the best! Comme des Garcons’ designer Rei Kawakubo made imperfection into an art form. She IS the 21st century. But, she is old now. Very far ahead of her time. There was and never will be another like her. I think Rick Owens is the best for VERY modern. I admire his work. It is so clean, yet terribly sophisticated. Hard to achieve.
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being a jewelry designer?
When I finally say, “this will work!” So much goes into being inventive without being offensive or too “over the top.” I was told to send my “over the tops” to Paris. I could, but I really want to challenge the June Cleavers of the world to just get out there and BE!! Take that apron off and have some fun.
As you can imagine, we LOVE Harriet! If you own a piece of Surplus jewelry consider yourself ahead of the curve. Every item that leaves Harriet’s studio is full of HER. Her energy, spirit, creativity and wisdom. She is truly an original and we are so lucky to work with her.
Erica & Dustin
Just in time for the season’s change, so has Hitchcock Madrona. Come see the boutique’s entirely new interior as we introduce our latest fall collections.
Barbour continues to keep our attention with their Barbour International line (think Steve McQueen on a motorcycle). Several new styles have arrived this week! Below I am wearing the National Trials Jacket and new grey pearl necklace by Shannon Koszyk. Along with a huge selection of Shannon’s jewelry, we have new items from Winifred Grace and Karazi Design. This is our first collection from Karazi Design and we love it’s edgy elegant vibe.
Do you like MY new jacket?! I’m obsessed.
Grey pearl and medallion necklace (worn doubled) by Shannon Koszyk.
Our own private label is expanded upon with schoolboy blazers, vintage-fit wool cardigans, tuxedo waistcoats in cashmere/wool, and our ever popular cashmere scarves in new checks and plaids.
Come see all that’s new, enjoy a glass of champagne, and toast the new season at Hitchcock Madrona’s Fall Launch Party.
Hitchcock Madrona Team
Do we all agree that the top button MUST be buttoned? Yes, okay good. But now, how do we wear necklaces??! Collared shirts are always a bit tricky with necklaces – usually the necklace falls inside the collar on your skin. If you want to button up your oxford a bigger necklace worn almost like a bow tie works well. I thought this red tuxedo blazer and pressed shirt combo was a good palette to show how I wear a necklace with a high, buttoned up collar.
Amazing cooper “waterfall” necklace by Xenia Mara. This piece is sooooo fabulous. It works with literally everything (believe it or not!). I love this necklace with just an athletic grey v-neck t-shirt, as much as with a silk cocktail dress a la Helmut Lang. The chains reach all the way to your belly button (can I say button one more time in this post!?) and so I thought it would be cool to button (there I go again!) up the blazer too. The necklace then disappears within the blazer.
Crocheted sterling silver and cotton thread necklace by Venessa Arizaga. Evil doily or spider web? Either way – yes!
I cannot stop wearing my MOSCOT frames. They have become an essential in my fall wardrobe.
I chose the Pamela Love arrowhead necklace to show a more delicate look with a buttoned collar. This works because the pendant has some weight. It can’t be too delicate or the collar will be too strong. The necklace also has to be over 18″ long.
I stuck with the arrowhead necklace to wear all day and paired it with dramatic earrings that play off the crude/organic vibe of the necklace. These earrings are so unique! They are made by Karazi Design, a new artist to Hitchcock Madrona. I need to do a proper post on her work but for now check out these hand-carved antler (traditional Balinese design) earrings set in gold plated sterling silver. Obsessed!
Sterling silver spine ring by Michael Spirito (middle finger) and sterling silver, moonstone and pink tourmaline snake ring also by Michael Spirito.
Let me see your top button and statement necklace combinations – post photos on our Facebook page!
Day three in New York City was all about MOSCOT Eyewear for team Hitchcock Madrona. We sat down with Alexandra Scherk (a Moscot on her mother’s side) and Harvey Moscot, a fourth generation MOSCOT owner. During our meeting we all realized that MOSCOT and Hitchcock Madrona, as companies, have a few integral philosophies in common. Both brands highly value family and are both truly family run. Theirs is a company that has been passed down five generations and Dustin and I are, as you know, cousins. We also bonded over our shared passion for consistent and definitive branding. MOSCOT has maintained it’s brand integrity for over 100 years. If that isn’t inspiring for beginners (we felt like beginners compared to their rich history!) I don’t know what is! Harvey also respected the quirk and whimsy of our interiors concepts and window displays. They do a similar presentation in the windows at the original MOSCOT store on Orchard & Delancey.
We are approaching MOSCOT headquarters.
MOSCOT was started in 1915 by Eastern European immigrant, Hyman Moscot. Hyman sold eye glasses from a push cart until his son Sol joined the business in 1925 (at 15!) and helped run the first retail store located at 94 Rivington Street. MOSCOT moved to their home and current location in 1936 at Orchard & Delancey. The headquarters that we visited was opened by the fourth generation owners in the early nineties.
Ali helping us decide on the perfect frames.
Dustin and I in our new frames. Thank you!
We are strictly carrying the MOSCOT Originals line. Here is a description of the line (from moscot.com): “The MOSCOT Originals Collection, based on styles from the MOSCOT archives from 1930-1970, celebrates the classic good looks and timeless design born in decades past. The eyewear retains the authenticity of the original frame styles including real glass lenses in the sunglasses, traditional hardware, and lens colors that precisely duplicate the true old school colors first fabricated by the Company in the 1940s. The faithfully reproduced Collection is available as ophthalmic eyewear or sunglasses, with or without a prescription, in a variety of frame and lens color combinations and sizes.”
Dustin in the MOSCOT headquarters retail store.
About the brand (from moscot.com): “MOSCOT infuses its unmistakably refined, downtown aesthetic with nearly 100 years of eyewear expertise and unparalleled craftsmanship to create its timeless eyewear. While now recognized as a global fashion brand beloved by fans worldwide, MOSCOT remains, at heart, a neighborhood optical shop.”
Admiring my new specs!
Thank you so much Ali and Harvey! The lenses for our order are being cut this week and all 48 pair will ship out next week. I can’t wait to announce their arrival! MOSCOT has agreed to do custom “plano” lenses for our frames (Japan and Hitchcock Madrona only – whoo hoo!) so that you can wear them for fashion. You can still, of course, take them to your optometrist and fill them with your prescription. We will also be getting the MOSCOT Originals line in sunglasses. I WILL be buying another pair of frames when they arrive – I need brown/tortoise too!
I am interrupting my NYC blog for a quick outfit of the day post and an exciting announcement! These photos were taken a few weeks ago when the sun was still shinning in Seattle (I am NOT complaining about the weather – it has been beautiful!). I cannot stop wearing my MOSCOT frames! Hitchcock Madrona will be the exclusive seller for MOSCOT Eyewear in the Pacific Northwest. MOSCOT is a company that is over 100 years old with a rich history as a family business that has been passed down five generations. We are honored to bring this wonderful product to Seattle. MOSCOT has been on Dustin’s radar since he read about the company in GQ Magazine at the tender age of 14. That was a FEW years ago!
“Meckie” frames in black by Moscot.
Steel necklace by Surplus (bottom). Sterling silver monogram shield necklace by Hitchcock Madrona.
Gold filled bangle cuff bracelets by Hitchcock Madrona. Woven cotton and chain bracelet by Venessa Arizaga.
Sterling silver industrial bracelet by Hitchcock Madrona. Prism ring by Eric Saeter.
More photos to come of Dustin and I at MOSCOT headquarters in NYC. Email me if you would like to know when the frames are in stock. They are all ophthalmic quality – ready for your prescription. We are also getting sunglasses.