This book pays homage to hats and all those who, by wearing them, manufacturing them, imagining them in their variety of styles, and immortalizing them in different artistic forms and materials, have formed its history.
Curiosities, news, anecdotes, vices and virtues of this simultaneously aesthetic and functional piece of apparel flow in the background of great historical events whose protagonists almost always presented themselves to us with their inseparable head wear.
The life of a hat is as long as the life of the man that has worn it. From its remote origins in Egypt, Greece and Asia up to its modern age in Europe. The fashion of elegant hats spreads from France and England to reach mass Italian production in the 1800’s and 1900’s. Being present in all civilizations, it is a symbol of cultural, social and individual valence; it influences codes of communication, represents visions of the world, and is a metaphor of creativity that frees itself from the mind on which it is placed.
The hat conceals the head, but beneath it the face changes its appearance in a game of winking, seduction and provocation which render it a true magical devise. The hat’s shape takes on the head’s profile, but at the same time it goes beyond and speaks a language all of its own, capable of amplifying communicative relationships. Putting on a hat, taking off a hat and changing hats, these are all gestures that are carried out on life’s daily stage in order to take on different roles, change image and perhaps even ideas. It’s a complicity show where man and hat are both protagonists.
This book is an acknowledgment of all the participants in the noble art of hat making, the milliners, hatters and even retailers that work to preserve and enhance the hat heritage as a complement of a male elegance, one which is severely challenged by “globalized” fashion and the lack of rituals in today’s lifestyles. It is also a way of being a part of a long history.
This appreciation is for those who have laid the bases in the hand-crafting tradition and gave it its lustre. To the “Masters” with brave faith in progress who committed themselves to learning the secrets of industrialization and giving life to the industry that was destined to become Italian pride.
To the first milliners that worked at home and sold their crafts. To all the unknown workers whose capabilities and know-how allowed celebrities to be part of history’s stage by wearing that inseparable object which eventually became an element of identification.
This book is a wish: that hats return to become an instrument of charm and elegance. That they become a sign of individuality, personality, and last but not least, they can once again be taken off to pay homage to a woman that knows how to appreciate this antique gallant gesture.