Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mad Hatters

Whew! What a week. First, National Hat Day on January 15th, followed the very next evening by a hat-centric event at the Brooklyn Museum by milliner Heidi Lee, a clever tie-in the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit. On Wednesday, we serve an appetizer to whet your appetite for more. Feast on our coverage of the second course -- National Hat Day. Enjoy -- it's fun AND calorie free! But leave room for dessert -- Heidi Lee's confections -- coming soon.

National Hat Day:  What a great idea!  We got an e-vite from Ari Seth Cohen to celebrate National Hat Day at Off Broadway Boutique, co-hosted by owner Lynn Dell ("the Countess of Glamour") and illustrator extraordinaire Joana Avillez. Check out Ari's coverage of the event. The party ran from 5 to 8 PM, and since we're working girls, and the local neighborhood transit gods were on the warpath Wednesday evening, we arrived just after 7 PM, after several fabulous ladies and gents had already departed.  Not to worry though - you can still see what the early birds were wearing on Ari's blog.

Here's Ari, attempting the impossible -- trying to look distinguished while wearing a pink flamingo.  With him, his partner Eric Lee in a pizza pie hat, and two of their friends.

Mutual Admiration Society.  Valerie loved Eric's abstract art-y pizza; Eric admired Valerie's felt hat with hypnotic swirl.  So they momentarily traded to see the results.

Tehcnically, Valerie's hat is not a hat at all.  It's a bag that she removed the handle from.  The zipper is still in place.  Joana Avillez wears an amazing oversized beret, a gift from her sweetie.  (We want to put an amazing ornament on it.    A huge feather?  A series of baroque pearls?  A white chalk outline in Keith Haring style???)

Couldn't resist giving you the full-length shot too so you could see all of the shades of blue in Valerie's outfit (down to her turquoise shoes) and Joana's pom-pom fringed trousers, giving her look that killer essence of matador!  Yes, yes, we KNOW it's out of focus.  The camera does not have cataracts, and neither do you, dear reader.

Hostess Lynn Dell wore a very art deco look with tuxedo and veiled top hat.  Designer Tim John, who lives in the neighborhood and drops by frequently, is wearing pleated taffeta pieces of his own design.

It is the prerogative of the hostess / shop owner to change her hat as many times as she pleases.  And with one of the broadest hat selections in New York City, why not succumb to temptation?

Three of the Off Broadway sales assistants.  The woman on the right is wearing a tiny saucy little derby tilted way back on her head.

Nita Angeletti, designer of hats, crowns and tiaras (available at Off Broadway), in a 40's-like creation she made herself.

Milliner Wanda Chambers also came wearing her own creation - a 50s style cocktail hat to match her 50s cocktail dress.

Rita Ellis Hammer dressed for the occasion and looked quite glam, combining sequins and leopard print. Like many of us in attendance, she couldn't resist purchasing some fabulous bibelot from Off Broadway.

Tom, part of the evening's entertainment, videographer Lina Plioplyte and Eric Lee posed for a photo.  We loved that all the men donned hats in the spirit of the occasion.

French designer Fanny Karst (right), known for her incredibly fashion-forward Old Ladies Rebellion line of clothing for the over-50 set, stopped by with one of her friends.  See some of Fanny's work, distinguished by its very original digital prints, here.  (Be sure to hit the NEXT button at the bottom left of the screen to see the full range of pictures.)

Malka (meaning "Queen") Sender was wearing a feathered hat whose feathers all pointed forward.  She also had the most beautifully tailored coat made by her mother of natural fabrics and hand-painted with vegetable dyes. Her cousin, milliner Satya Twena, recently purchased the former Makins hat factory, so Malka is helping her in the business. Check out their fine millinery here.  (And read the story of the last minute rescue of the factory here.)

Artist Annika Connor modeled her crimson hat for us. Click here to check out her work.

Another guest had the most amazingly apt name -- Lily Pink -- and an effervescent attitude to match.

Hands down, this has got to be one of the most stylish couples in the city, if not the whole state. We've run into them on countless occasions.  They're a stand-out in any crowd.  (Note to selves: one day we have to ask them what they do.)

As Tom played a mean jazz tune on a melodica, Lynn Dell was moved to sashay confidently around the floor in response.

We love it when members of the younger generation embrace hats. The lady on the left designed and made her hat. Although her friend didn't wear a hat, she did wear some adorable leopard shoes.

Doesn't this fun trio look like they are enjoying the festivities?  The men get bonus points for sporting headgear.

This gorgeous lady told us she'd met Ari in Geneva. (They do get around, don't they?) She designed her multicolored hat based on the top hat model, but with a wider base, and a bird nestled in the crown.

At one point she took off her hat, and what to our wondering eyes should appear, but fabulous raspberry-colored dreads!

This woman, in a vintage mink hat, told wonderful tales of vintage hats.

For our money, National Hat Day is a great idea, but seriously, folks, let's have a referendum next year to move it to spring. The Royal Ascot Races are held in mid-June.  We suggest that National Hat Day be moved to the end of May.  Not so hot that you worry about your pristine sweat band, far enough away from Ascot so as not to compete, and close enough to get everybody in the mood.  January is a great month, but it's better suited to National Parka Day.


  1. I agree, Hat Day should be moved to Spring, and it should become International Hat Day! So much marvelous millinery to savour here. My favourite things - the pink dreads, Annicka's red hat, Malka's whole outfit, Fanny Karst's pink and black creepers, and Eric's Pizza hat.

  2. Perhaps there should be a National Hat Day twice a year! I love Valerie's creative "bag as hat." This opens up so many possibilities!

    The photos have me in a trance. So much headwear beauty in one post. I am over the moon!