Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hat Love -- Jean Rocks out at Amy Downs' Winter Sale!

When I was photographed at the Issey Miyake party by Bill Cunningham (ahem) in the picture that ran in the Sunday New York Times' Style Section two weeks ago, I was wearing this red taffeta and net Amy Downs turban. It is from her Origami collection, purchased at her sample sale on the Bowery last Spring. I love it because it folds flat in a suitcase and travels beautifully. I loved it so much, I bought one in black and one in large pale grey and white checks with a feather.

When I recently received an email from Inez Foose inviting me to Amy's winter hat sale, I was thrilled. The sale was held last Sunday afternoon in a West Village bar called Automatic Slims. What a great idea! Cocktails and hats! Positively brilliant. Great photographs of musicians (mostly guitarists) and singers line the walls of the establishment.  (There is a particularly fetching photo of Stevie Ray Vaughn on the wall at the far right side of the bar.)  Perhaps it was the effects of the $8 Patron margarita (did I mention it was also "happy hour" with wonderfully affordable prices?) that led me to try on this little number referred to as the "reindeer hat"? It was a wonderful way to break the ice and get into the spirit.

There were several like-minded Amy Downs fans who came to try on hats, schmooze, hang out and have cocktails. Case in point, this trio came and not only tried on hats, but utterly enjoyed themselves! They gave each other lots of positive reinforcement but also did offer their opinions on which hats were each other's favorites. Although the ladies' names escape me (please comment & tell me who you are), the hats they're wearing do have names: Bright Eyes, Turban and Knot.

The blond in the previous trio tried on this toque (with red button embellishments) that looked warm and cute, but not too cute.

Her friend, who sports a really long single braid down her back (hate her!), modeled one of the wool turbans in a dark shade of brown.  You can glimpse some of the hats on display in the background.

Jane Marx, whom I'd met at Amy's previous sale, posed in the brown version of the asymmetrical toque with red buttons that you just saw in black 2 photos ago.

Even the guys got into the act. Ken, behind the bar, wore his own wool cap, in keeping with his tailored, dressed-down look. Amy's husband Gary wore a wonderful peacock blue hat with colorful green shoes. Even though Ken had closed the bar the night before at 4:30 AM, he was an affable host and top notch bartender.

Diana riffed her own version of the wool newsboy cap in a shade of grey to match her outfit.

Diana's friend Jo tried a hat with a turned back brim that echoed the shape of the shawl collar in her knit sweater jacket.

Susannah tried on this black and grey wool hat that coordinated with her grey striped t-neck and v-neck sweater.

Bubbette modeled a grey beret and wryly commented that it made her look like a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Shades of Tanya! (Those readers too young to remember Patty Hearst's kidnapping by the SLA and the subsequent horrific police shoot-out,  raise your hands. Cinque! Now, go google it, kiddies.)

Inez has the most amazing long, white pony tail. She's wearing one of Amy's brimmed wool winter hats with her red and black checked jacked.

Milliner extraordinaire Amy Downs herself arranged my reindeer hat. Then I posed for the photo that appears near the beginning of this posting.  Amy lived and worked in New York in the 1980s and did the hats for the film version of Tama Janowitz' novel Slaves of New York (which starred Bernadette Peters).   She now lives in the Great Northwest but luckily for us, still makes hats! For more information about Amy, go to her website: Get information on her two upcoming sales in Memphis November 16th and Albuquerque November 21st!

Singer Anna Domino tried on one of the more outre hats in the collection, commenting that she was rocking that Lapland maiden look. Only she could "work" it. Check out her music in this YouTube video from Land of My Dreams:

Ken got into the spirit and tried on one of Amy's dark wool toques and did it proud.  Automatic Slims is located at 733 Washington Street (at Bank Street) New York, NY 10014  212-645-8660.

Jo and Diana tried on more hats -- in similar styles but different colors.

Susannah opted for a version of the black wool turban.  Don't you love her glasses?

Here's Amy and her husband Ken and her first husband Norbert -- who was best man at their wedding!  How's that for a very telling testament to how absolutely lovely Amy is?

You're going to have to stay tuned in the coming weeks to see what my choices look like. I purposely didn't pose in any of the hats I seriously considered and from which I made my purchases. And NO, I didn't buy that reindeer hat -- it was already spoken for!


  1. Hats, cocktails and cool people - it really doesn't get any better than that, does it? The reindeer hat is more of an art installation for the head than a hat - how fun! Am curious to see what you went home with. Any man that can rock a vibrant blue hat and green shoes is more than ok in my book ;)

  2. Amy Downs is one of my favorite hat designers and I have several of her pieces in my collection. This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to see a photo of her. Jean, I love your red hat and all of the designs that I see in this post. Thank you for the link. I'm off to check it out!

    And congrats on the Bill Cunningham feature!

  3. I envy that gorgeous long white pony tail! But, did you buy one of the hats? xxoo

    1. Indeed, I did. More than 1 in fact. All will be revealed in future postings. :)

  4. Best posting in ages -- real women we can relate to in a real life situation!