Colin Firth's wife to open new hat store in Derbyshire
A BOUTIQUE hat firm is celebrating its crowning achievement – seeing one of its unique creations being worn by the wife of Hollywood star Colin Firth on her way to the Oscars.
Pachacuti, in Ashbourne, is famed for its Panama hats and its international reputation attracted the attention of Livia Firth, whose husband, Colin, has starred in films including The King's Speech and Love Actually.
After Livia was spotted in Los Angeles sporting one of the hats ahead of this year's Oscars ceremony, she has now agreed to come to Ashbourne to help the firm launch its new-look store next week.
Company founder Carry Somers said she first met Livia when Pachacuti was honoured at the Observer Ethical Awards last year.
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The 46-year-old said: "I first met Livia at the awards ceremony; it was quite embarrassing. I had been talking to this man for about ten minutes before I met her and only realised afterwards that I had been chatting to Colin Firth.
"I'm not brilliant with celebrities but I suppose I should've known who he was."
She said Livia had been interested in her business and had seen her again at London Fashion Week. The pair agreed to work on a range of hats together. It was not long afterwards when Carry saw Livia wearing one of her hats in Los Angeles.
She said: "It was when she had arrived for the Oscars. It's very exciting, a celebrity endorsement like that. Livia says her Pachacuti Panama is her staple hat and she wears it everywhere."
Carry, of Staffordshire, said part of what Livia had been passionate about was Pachacuti's fair trade practices.
The business was set up almost 20 years ago after a research trip to Ecuador, where she met two co-operatives who had experienced arson attacks because of the threat they posed to other businesses.
After putting together a successful first knitwear collection, Carry has devoted her life to the production of fair trade and sustainable clothing, accessories and Panama hats.
Importing the hats from Ecuador, the Derbyshire firm helps to keep families together by creating sustainable, rural livelihoods, providing income, training and social support for home-working mothers.
Carry said: "Livia is very passionate about fair trade and ethical fashion. So she agreed to work with me on a new range of hats."
And, along with the collaboration, Livia has agreed to visit Ashbourne to help launch a refurbishment of the shop.
Carry said: "We were thinking about what we could do with the shop and I was tempted to close it. It is only a small part of the business as a whole. But, speaking to the managers, they had the idea of turning it into a boutique where, instead of just coming along and buying a hat, they could have one custom made and designed for them.
"We have expanded that part and Livia is going to cut the ribbon for the opening."
The opening takes place at 1pm, on Thursday at the shop, in Dig Street, Ashbourne.