Sunday, December 13, 2009

Twelve Hats of Christmas

* The Twelve Hats of Christmas (after a fashion)
* Photo Essay of Our Venture into TVland

Jean says: In anticipation of our cable TV debut on December 14 as "Timeless Girls in Hats" on Susan Finelli's Behind the Shadows (click here to see her website) we thought we'd give you an up close look at the chapeaux we featured on TV. We each changed hats six times, more or less at the same time. We didn't (couldn't!) take pictures during the show, so we've reproduced the hats for you here in different settings. In order of appearance, they are:

Hats 1 and 2: Two Ignatius hats.

Jean's: Our more rabid fans will recall our road trip to the Philadelphia Craft Show in early November and the fabulous milinery creations of Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens ( from Petersburg, Virginia. I confess and throw myself on the mercy of the court: I held out on you! In addition to the three Ignatius hats shown in our November 15 posting, I did indeed acquire a fourth hat, which made its maiden voyage on TV. A new favorite, this spare, jet black deco number, made of wheat straw plaits and a de-nuded peacock feather, was the perfect Bauhaus counterpoint ("less is more") to Valerie's majestic Guggenheim hat (where, obviously, "more is in fact more").

In front of a jungle print textile, I'm wearing the hat and black wool scarf with white polka dots (which reverses to black polka dots on white), black coral earrings and brass pinky ring by Kirsten Hawthorne (e mail her at, black skull ring by Meredith Katz (, my black vintage bakelite ring and the five gold rings cited in our last posting.

For another view of Valerie's Guggenheim hat, see the photo of us in front of the Guggenheim Museum, below.

Hats 3 and 4: Two Black Feathered Hats.

Jean's: a black velvet and cock feather vintage hat. After location shooting at the tree at Rockefeller Center and at Radio City on Saturday night, in a veritable sea of humanity, we crossed Fifth Avenue and took advantage of this great gamecock graphic on a truck parked next to St. Patrick's Cathedral. I'm wearing the hat atop a black faux goat jacket by Spanish designer Amaya Arzuaga (from a consignment shop).

Valerie, bundling up against the chill at Radio City, is wearing an unlabeled conical black feather hat, probably from the ‘60s. The feather brush comes from vintage millinery supplies, and was sewn to the hat earlier this year. (The white coat, labeled Friess Original, is probably from the early ‘50s, and was purchased at a flea market.)

Hats 5 and 6: Pink Hats.

With an army of Andy Warhol Marilyns as backdrop, Jean is wearing a nameless vintage black felt hat with a pink flower (channeling its inner sea anemone) topping a Comme des Garcons jacket. (Astute readers will note that in her excitement, Jean actually forgot her glasses - an all-time first!) Valerie's pink felt hat is labeled Chisato Tsumori. Tsumori once worked for Issey Miyake, then struck out on her own. This is from one of her earliest collections. A Rorschach hat, its shape has been described by different people as “soft ice cream”, a “snail” and a “vortex”. Hmmmm. Nubby pink silk and wool jacket (from a thrift shop) by Fabrizio Lenzi.

Hats 7 and 8: Felt Hats.

Jean is wearing a round Turkish felt hat with a black, grey and white geometric design. She's paired it with a grey on grey fulled wool coat tailored by So Hung (no lie!) who now has a shop on East 9th St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) and Trippen elf boots. Jean is studying the lighted bull dog lamp in the lobby of the Crosby St. Hotel while showing off the back of her coat.

Valerie's shibori’d hat in shades of green is by Nafi de Luca, and purchased at Barney’s. Originally a wool beret, it was re-blocked into a square shape, folded into quarters, rolled like a cigar, and then randomly bound. The uneven coloration is the result of the irregular folding, rolling and binding.

The green felt coat with undulating blue and green felt ribbons is the work of felt maker and designer Tiiti Tolonen who lived and worked in Brooklyn for many years before recently returning to Finland.

The vintage green scarf (1960?) with silk warps and wool wefts, labeled Ben Goodman & Son Inc., is imported from Japan. Green chenille gloves from Strawberry. Calf length flat mocassin boots by Frye, found at a resale shop. Peeking out from under the coat is a vintage Norma Kamali green corduroy snap front dress, and barely visible in her right hand is a large black Le Sportsac weightless foldable parachute nylon bag with 200,000 pockets and a shoulder strap. The practical woman's Must Have.

Hats 9 and 10. Architectural hats.

Jean's black vintage Ziggurat hat: Regular readers will recognize this favorite from its many appearances, most spectacularly at the Guggenheim Kandinsky show atop a colorful Issey Miyake ensemble with Loungfly bag and Dansko clogs (see photo above).

The vintage orange conical hat with rolled brim, made of long nap fur velour, is from Hattie Carnegie, purchased at a resale shop; the orange wool coat is from Searle, purchased at a thrift shop.

Hats 11 and 12: Twin Hats.

Bought entirely separately from different vintage dealers on different days, these hats are nearly identical. Valerie’s vintage hat (left) is mouton, brown felt and brown and white feathers, labeled Franklin Simon Fifth Avenue New York. Jean’s hat is mouton, brown felt and green feathers, with no label. Judging by the materials, small size, angled shapes and wire trim in the back, both are probably late 1930s. Valerie’s vintage two tone mouton coat, labeled Liberty Furs of Cleveland, from the flea market. Jean is wearing her hat with her Norma Kamali leopard-print jacket (in which she made a big splash at the Easter Parade and in which she appeared in the NY Times' Style Section). Purchased at the Metropolitan Vintage Show.


Valerie says:

Of all the good advice our mothers ever gave us, “Always wear your hat” was not among their pearls of wisdom, and yet wearing hats got us our big break on TV. Producer Susan Finelli invited us to appear on “Behind the Shadows” after seeing photographs of our September appearance at the Guggenheim Museum wearing the Guggenheim hat and the ziggurat hat at the Kandinsky exhibition. We had the pleasure of taping Timeless Girls in Hats in November, and on December 14, 22 and 28 we’ll have the further pleasure of seeing the half hour program on MNN. (See full details and listings in our previous post.) We each brought six hats to the studio, and managed to wear all of them during the course of the program.

Below are pictures commemorating our adventure into TVland.

Here we are at the end of all the preparations. Twelve hats of various shapes do not pack easily. We took several boxes to the studio (and several changes of clothes, to show the hats in context). On the cardboard box in front of Jean is a copy of Vintage Fashion Accessories, a book by Stacy Lo Albo, published by Krause Publications, in which both of the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas appear modeling hats.

In the taxi, giddy as little school girls, on our way to the studio.

Jean taking her coats and hat boxes out of the trunk of the taxi.

In the studio, doing sound and lighting tests. On the stand, between Susan and Valerie, you can see a copy of Susan’s novel, Behind the Shadows, published by PublishAmerica; at the base of the stand is Vintage Fashion Accessories.

David Vernon, co-host of Timeless Girls in Hats, styled the set beautifully in no time at all, using just what was available on the set and the hats, clothes and boxes we’d brought.

Taking down the set after the show. Everything had to be fast, fast, fast, so we could make way for the next show. There was time to do a quick inventory, but everything went into boxes helter skelter, to be straightened out later.

After taping on the far West Side, we deposited the detritus of the show at Valerie's pad and embarked to Matisse, a new little bistro on Second Avenue to compare notes, toast one another, and nosh. (The cream of cauliflower soup was divine!) See Valerie and her bubbly above, under the conical orange hat.

BONUS You Tube video: You Can Leave Your Hat On is a song that expresses the appeal of hats to such perfection that it appears in two movies: 9½ Weeks and The Full Monty. The former is sung by Joe Cocker, the latter by Tom Jones, both of whom do it lusty justice. Because 9½ Weeks actually involves no hats, we can’t in good conscience recommend that video clip (although it has a lot to recommend it, hats or no), but we are happy to present for your viewing pleasure the Leave Your Hat On clip from The Full Monty, which includes six hats (rated N for Nudity and H for Hilarity): click here to see the video.

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