Hat Lady

linda pagan of the hat shop

In a hat in the cyclades. I was eleven.

I have different hats; I'm a mother, I'm a woman, I'm a human being, I'm an artist and hopefully I'm an advocate. All of those plates are things I spin all the time.

Annie Lennox

I have always loved hats.

Years ago I shared a studio space with two tweaked women in Soho. Their collective level of imbalance was hard to handle and at times I had to flee when they were both present in our joint space. I would walk through Soho to regain equilibrium and stumbled on a wonderful store called The Hat Shop.

linda pagan of the hat shop
Linda Pagan of The Hat Shop

As I tried on one hat on after another, the exceptionally stylish proprietress Linda Pagan (she is often snapped by street style curator-at-large Bill Cunningham) and I started to chat, and instantly fell into step.

linda pagan of the hat shop
Linda Redux

She then placed a particularly fetching felt hat -- reminiscent of Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca --on my head, and said : “You know, men really do love hats.”

I walked out with that hat--and a new friendship. She taught me that wearing a hat is not just a practical part of your wardrobe, but essential to the creative spirit.She believed that a worthy hat carves space around its wearer, marking her as an individual in a crowd. And she is a testimony to this belief in her own life. She travels on a shoestring to remote pockets of the world, is a voracious reader and is curious about everything. She eschews status fashion and shops at flea markets and vintage sales -- her signature style is an art all its own.

When we moved to Colorado, I saw less of good friends like Linda but kept my hat habits and collection. I soon learned that large hats give way to baseball caps in mountain towns. Some people think my big hats quaint, and still others think I live in another century. Only my dermatologist gets excited about my sombrero addiction.

Every spring I visit a local and very talented milliner and get a new hat for the upcoming sun season -- either for stepping out on the town, or strictly for rugged outdoor rambling. Together we pick out the trimmings, decide on brim width and style, and she transforms the raw straws into portable works of art a couple of weeks later.

isa in a hat in sue carrolann's studio
In Sue Carrolan's studio in Woody Creek before the final results.

"I don't use a hat as a prop. I use it as a part of me."

Isabella Blow said it best

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