Fashion show unveils 21st century ‘bonnets’

24 March 2017

School pupils revealed their versions of a classic Dundee hat at a V&A Museum of Design Dundee fashion show this Friday (24 March).

The Bonnetmakers project worked with two primary schools in the city to design 21st century ‘bonnets’ with the support of leading Scottish milliners Sally-Ann Provan and Pea Cooper.

Rosebank Primary School and Our Lady’s RC Primary School are both based in the Hilltown area of Dundee, which was historically known as Bonnet Hill because local people designed and sold the traditional style of hat from outside their houses.

The 47 school pupils have researched local design history around the city, and worked with the milliners in their schools, as part of V&A Dundee’s pre-opening schools programme.

Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “Dundee has a rich design heritage, from local traditions like the bonnets of Bonnet Hill to international successes ranging from ship-building a century ago to video games today.

“Connecting our school pupils with that exciting history, and bringing it to life with designers and our learning team, is a key part of V&A Dundee’s work with communities across Scotland even before the museum opens next year.

“All of the pupils who’ve worked on our Bonnetmakers project should feel incredibly proud of how they’ve worked with professional designers, and how they’ve created 21st century versions of a classic piece of local design.”

Working with Dundee City Council, the museum is jointly developing its learning programme with teaching professionals seconded over a ten-year period.

No examples of the traditional Dundee bonnet survives today, but it is known that they were made of circular knitted wool, and that black bonnets were usually worn by the middle classes and blue bonnets by the working classes.

Milliner Sally-Ann Provan said: "V&A Dundee’s Bonnetmakers project has been fantastic to work on.

“From the early school workshops, to the education visits and design jam, it’s been wonderful to see the children's confidence grow and watch them develop their creativity and problem-solving skills with such positivity and enthusiasm.

“Engaging pupils with design at a young age is crucial to them understanding their creative potential, and the huge range of different careers they can pursue in the future."

V&A Dundee has been working in communities across Scotland since 2014, when its Living Room for the City project launched in Dundee.

The project has been made possible by the support of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee.

For more information, please visit

Image Credit: Julie Howden

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