As the grass slowly starts to get greener again after the summer heatwave, we realise how much we've missed our traditional British downpours! Our wellies, waterproofs and umbrellas have been gathering dust over much of the past few months. So - dare we say - we're ready to get our brollies out in style this September!
Umbrellas have a long history of use. In Egypt and other ancient civilisations, they fulfilled the purpose of parasols, protecting the elite from sunshine, not rain. They were often made from palm leaves or feathers tied together in a canopy shape.
The Chinese believed that the bigger the umbrella, the more important the person using it would be! Their history of beautifully decorated oil-paper umbrellas dates back nearly two millennia and they are still used in traditional Chinese weddings.
Parasols were brought to Europe in the sixteenth century, pioneered by Portuguese colonists who saw them being used in Asia. They became popular in England, France and Italy, although waterproofed umbrellas didn't come into use for many more decades.
Umbrellas were rarely used by men until the late 1700s, when they were sometimes called "Hanways" after the first London man who regularly carried one. They were heavy and difficult to carry around, as they were made from oiled silk, with wooden or whalebone ribs and a thick wooden handle. The Duke of Wellington even had a dagger set into his handle!
For many years, umbrellas were seen as practical, slightly dull, items that were completely different to the lighter type of parasols. These came in all colours and were far more suited to women's fashion and flirting - familiar to all Jane Austen readers!
Samuel Fox's lighter steel ribbed umbrella design in the mid nineteenth century created the template for modern umbrella design. Hans Haupt also made a major breakthrough, inventing the first telescoping pocket umbrella in late 1920s Berlin. And although umbrellas have become lighter and have improved coatings like Teflon, the classic canopy shape remains a tested and timeless sight.
With today's incredible range of colours and patterns, there's a perfect umbrella for everyone - and they make a practical, stylish and thoughtful present for adults and children alike.
Take a peek at Peach Perfect's Art Umbrellas, Beautiful Brollies, Inside Out Umbrellas, Sports Umbrellas and our dainty little Woodland Fairy Umbrella for all the inspiration you need. And get your family and friends ready for singing - and splashing - in the rain this Autumn!