Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Time

In the West Village, NYC, every year there is a parade of ghoulish wonder, with giant puppets, spangled characters, floats, and thousands of gawkers lining the parade route.  For years, we all just jumped in whrever, but now it's a bit organized......proceed to Spring and 6th Avenue.  the parade starts at 7, so get ready now!
Handmade is best, but feel free to stop into the shop for a feather accessory, mask, or some hat that will complete your costume.....veiling, tulle, feathers..........add something, as you need to fill in your costume.
We don't have Carnivale.instead we do the Halloween thing.  We don't do The Day of the Dead, we do the Halloween thing. Don't stay at home, come out if only for an hour to experience the dragons in person.  
And, if you've never participated.....this is one of those things you have to do in your lifetime.  come as a girl if you're a boy. Come as a boy if you're a girl......come as objects; come as  people, dead or, pink, blue, hatted or headless: come to the parade tonight!
Here's a hint: this year's theme is "Ghosts!"...........

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Expounding Upon Chanel

Before I get into see the current exhibit in Central Park, research is a requisite.  The Times' Nicolai Ourossoff scoffs at this merging of art, commerce, and fashion as a flatfooted move in these economic straights we're in.  Should art and fashion then hide until the world can afford to indulge once again?
I say nay, Nicolai......these are the times when the world needs distraction, interesting installations, and art by the wagon load.  Let each man judge whether it be to his liking, whether it be good or bad, blue or green.  Busby Berkeley used the dynamic of the Great Depression to create a library of fascinating film, scene after scene filled with distraction.  The costumes and wardrobe flaunted by the Hollywood stars of the 1930's cheered an entire generation through the inanity of the feathers, the satin, the furs. How merciful was that era of flash for the hard hit, and hard bitten folk of the Depression?
Let Mr. Lagerfeld provide us with that distraction, in an artful, architectural mode.  Mode, get it?
Fashion isn't just about consumerism, it's about learning to speak a language of clothing within a context.  The House of Chanel has given us decades of beauty, innovation, and genius.  Let that same wave of contribution sweep over the playing fields of Central Park for the next few weeks and let us languish in it, revel in it, and by all means, appreciate the art form.

Monday, October 13, 2008

L'Opera and Then Some!

     The Metropolitan Opera has restored all of it's crystal chandeliers, thanks to a gift by the Swarovski barons.  The exquisite light fixtures, symbolic of the new life at the Met, are all a-sparkle.  And so the Season begins. The revival of La Giaconda was performed  early in the new season, but if you missed that one, there are lots more to tickle your aria palette. 
Run and see any Zeffirelli production, as the modern versions of all of the favorites are slowly creeping into the repetoire. The two being shown this season are Cavalleria Rusticana, with Pagliaci, and La Traviata.
For a costume fanatic, Zeffirelli designed shows are the optimum.  The difference is extraordinary to my eye. Although the 17th C. italian setting of La Giaconda is ripe for picking, the costumes don't match the extraordinary combinations that Mr. Zeffirelli includes for a rich and rewarding visual.  Opera fans hovering in the wings of the new productions may feel that the lush ambiance subtracts from the onward modern pace of the genre.  But give me La Traviata over a stage littered with illustrated props and psycho-suggestions of crowds.  give me the fabrics, the density, and of course, give me Renee Fleming singing the part, and I am one happy girl.
What can surpass the lace scrim at the opening of Carmen?  What?! 
Headpieces, hats, tendancy may lean to the extreme, but I'm a visual kind of gal.  I want it all.
The redux of La Giaconda fills the stage but not the dresses.  The lace is everywhere, golden and shimmering , like the  Prada skirt everyone wants to own.  Carnival time in Venice is a time for magnificence, not making do, I'm afraid, so the flat silhouettes of the capes, headpieces and skirts left lots to be desired.  And thus the line drawn between a Zeffirelli production and all the rest.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, I'm hoping for hats everywhere.

above: La Giaconda, below, Carmen

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I don't Care if Halloween Comes First..........

We hereby announce the New York very first celebration of St. Catherine's Day!  We, the Milliners of New York City, will band together in raucous marching through the erstwhile millinery district in midtown on November  18.  Yes, it's a date of our own choosing, because the real St. Catherine's Day, November 25th, is too close to Thanksgiving for us, and so we march early. The idea, Paris/French in origin perhaps, is to join together the unmarried ladies of 25, on the 25th day of November, and decorate the statue of St. Catherine, in the hopes it will bring on the chain to your ball......aka, a mate.
We're not traipsing about looking for a statue of St. Catherine to decorate, and so we follow the tradition of donning festive headgear, and celebrate anyway.  And, we're not all 25 years old, either.  The New York tradition will start this year at the Synagogue in the Millinery District: 1025 6th Avenue, up through Bryant Park, towards our goal: the party at Haven. Of course, you must wear a fabulous hat to participate in the walk, and even crueler still: the open bar will only admit you if you're wearing that fabulous hat!
So,, come one, come all, come hats...........don't worry...I'll remind you all.............but get ready!  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Gotta Hat!

Meaning, I must have new, exciting, different, outre hat references every single day......for years I've been on a diet, the no-hat diet......except in my own little world, that is.  People think hats are a bit much, and want something as small as physically that a bobby pin, or a hat?
Hollywood used to be the forerunner of fashion, aptly predicting the trends by establishing them.  If Roz Russell wore a silly fruity number in a shot of "The Women", fruit was happening for Spring.  If feathers were floating from Garbo's hat in Queen Christine, then birds were in trouble indeed that season.  Ah, gone are the days of the Silver Screen impact.......not like days of yore, at any rate.......sure, the Pirate in Johnny Depp's soul will make Holloween happen forever every October 31st, and Marc Jacobs uses the tricorne as a  Fall 08 shape on the runway. Daily life precudes the wearing of hats for some reason, notwithstanding the fedora on Britney, the porkpie on JT, or the fedora on Indiana Jones.  So this year, with hats all over the place in films, on the pages of the glossies (lots of Ellen Christine hats to be seen in those magazines), on Young Hollywood, and now, at your local movieplex in The Duchess, my strict diet is over.  It seems that hats are allowed to be in the common vernacular once more!  Hooray!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Garbo Speaks!

Many moons ago, in the beginning..........
Marlene Wetherell,  while still at Victoria magazine, requested a few pieces for one of their issues.  As per my usual modus operandi, we designed them to spec, since there were parameters involved.  One, it was to be for the blue and white issue, in June.  Second, it needed to be variable, chic, sporty, and romantic.........all in one little hat.
The blue and white one was published, and Polly, my Premiere hates me for that hat even now, since it's a complicated woven structure sitting in a comfortable smallish brim.....cotton ribbon, pale Wedgewood blue, contrasted with the white of an antique linen tablecloth.  Doesn't that sound delightful, as a little hat to throw in your suitcase and carry off to the Polo fields with you?

But......since one hat is never enough for a shoot, I strive to please, and so we designed a few others.......on the way out of the studio, I felt the need for one more twist of fate, and so I grabbed a paprika felt body, threw it on a block, and raced down to the car.......I finished stitching it on the way uptown, in the back of the limo.  For some reason, theatre training does this to makes us infallible and capable of making anything anywhere in a flash.  for a shoot, it's fine....but for a finished product, you can't be that self indulgent.
To bring this all to a neat closure, the hat I designed that day was named the Garbo Fedora, in honor of the magnificent star of the silver screen, Greta Garbo.  It, too , was published, in another issue, and it's the first one the stylist picked up..............ah, life.
Buy your very own on packable, supple fur felt with a simple pleated crown and an assymentrical brim. Perfect for the transitional millinery wardrobe.
And remember what my Grandmother said: "Give it a dip, dear!".

Friday, October 3, 2008


What shape of hat can I wear with my face?  That's one of the 10 most frequently asked questions in my shop. I'll get into the rest of them along the way, and you will recognize yourself, or your buddy, in them all. This one is an easy out for me but for some reason, perplexes Jane and John Q. Public.  The little diagrams I've included are on my website,, for easy reference.  They're taken from a fast-and-easy How-To book from the 1940's, and so the silhouettes are recognize-able from that era.  The basic geometry is the same, though, and so :
If you have a round face, don't wear a hat that will highlight the circle, but rather something with a bit of a diagonal, to distract, and elongate.  Same goes for those of us over 40 who haven't had face-lifts yet.
For the square, very angular face, add something soft, keeping the angle there again, to cut with a diagonal, and highlight the architecture of your bones.  My grandmother always said "give it a dip", and that's very important  for this shape.  
The triangle, or heart-shaped face loves hats that come lower on the brow, and they can often wear a cloche with that Clara Bow cuteness.
How to find out what shape your face is?  I always say to draw it in the bathroom mirror with a bar of soap.  Easy, fast, but somewhat subjective, unless geometry was one of your favorite subjects.  So, if that's too hard for you, just come into the shop, and we'll play here.