A Cleator Moor Lass: Maggi Toner-Edgar

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Maggi Toner-Edgar, the daughter of a dressmaker and granddaughter of a lace maker, was always going to be involved in textiles and fashion. She first started working with her hands and yarn when she was three years old. Maggi was brought up in the shadow of the Kangol hat factory in Cleator Moor and loved to get the hats out of their reject bins and play with them.

Her Cumbrian west coast heritage and experiences have always been a strong influence in her life and on her work.

Maggi trained as a fashion/textile designer pattern-maker in Manchester. Afterwards she set up her own business making wedding-dresses, ball-gowns, suits etc. in the 80’s. She was based at home in Cumbria, but sold her designs nationally. Amusingly Kangol became sponsors of Maggi’s fashion students in Preston in the early 90’s, lending her hats for fashion shows. Maggi loved the characterful nature of these items.

As a bespoke designer she found herself more and more drawn to the designing and making of the headdresses. She became known for these amazing pieces, at first using the traditional processes of blocking and cutting and later working with wire to create a sculptural feel.

Her love of sculpture has been one of the strongest influences on her designs. She especially admires the work of the sculptors, Alexander Caulder and Claes Oldenburg. She loves the idea of a single drawn or sculpted line emphasising movement. She doesn’t like to embellish, preferring instead simplicity using texture and maybe one colour.

She favours the minimalist aesthetic ‘wabi-sabi’ approach. Amongst milliners she really admires Phillip Treacy.

Maggi has spent many years at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) lecturing in haute couture and craft on degree and MA courses. Her work in lecturing, design and research culminated in her doctorate on the role of experiential learning in design.

She produced a reflective journal as part of her doctorate. This was based on personal traumatic life experiences and she used hats as a vehicle to tell her story. Her journal, ‘Thinking Caps,’ explores her transition- how she dealt with these experiences through design and reflection. The experience gained through this has inspired her to work with others transitioning from their own life traumas. She runs transformational workshops with women in West Cumbria. She combines coaching techniques and craft to help them move forward. Her desire to give back to others in Cumbria led her to become involved in Eden Valley Artistic Network (EVAN) and other creative projects with young women such as ‘Making it Count’ which starts in January 2020.

She is now is to be found as ‘Maker-in-Residence’ at The Fibre Company in Threlkeld and is responsible for styling the images on their website and organising their fashion shoots. She has her own business ‘Creative’ Style, which she says is about our approach to fashion. She believes in slow fashion, helping people to make their own clothes and style.

One of her passion is dance. Maggi has an especial love for Tango – teaching it and creating pieces inspired by it, such as costumes and specialist headwear that embrace the dance, but work with the dance.

Maggi told me that others tell her, if she could focus on one thing, she would have achieved greatness, but she says she does flit from one thing to another. But from my perspective, I feel Maggi, is progressive artist, because she constantly reflects, evaluates and acts upon her reflections, constantly striving for improvement.

http://www.thefibreco.com. The Fibre Company

http://www.toneredgar.com My website

https://dreamscheme.club Aspatria

Thinking Caps Book at a vastly reduced price on Amazon!

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