I have always seen the hat as a symbol of style. A velvet fedora worn on the terrace of a café on fresh September afternoon. A perfect panama to accompany the morning baguette run on a summer morning. Worn well, for me, the hat can add instant style. Something I am still looking to master given my only hat is a panama purchased (slightly oversized) from a market in Provence. So when an invitation came to spend a morning at the Parisian hat atelier Mademoiselle Chapeaux, I grabbed my camera, and notebook, jumped on my bike, and off I went meet the founder Chloé Thiéblin. Over coffee and chocolate almonds Chloé tells me the story of founding Mademoiselle Chapeaux, her love of hats and the art of hat making (and wearing). Today, I am excited to take you on a little tour of the atelier and show you step by step how a Mademoiselle Chapeaux hat is made! Voilà!
Step 1: Choisir
The first step is to select the material and choose the style. Every hat is made by hand at the atelier and it takes 24 hours to create one single hat. A fine art that takes time & precision.
Step 2: Tresser
Step 2, the modeleuse (pattern maker) then weaves the material like an escargot (snail) on a sewing machine! Cute! It’s a special millinery technique. Each modeleuse has their own machine to weave the form of the hat. Weaving the couture to the correct lines is challenging. Often, the process has to be restarted.
Step 3: Silhouette
The material is then placed on a wooden mould to shape the form of the hat. The art of hat making is a dying art in Paris, Chloé explains. A technique and a skill that she and her local Marie are working hard to keep alive in this little atelier by educating students with millinery skills.
Step 4: Appreter
It’s time to dress the hat with some glue. Glue is diluted in water and hand painted on the hat. It’s left over night to set and dry. I love the old singer sowing machines, threads and materials hanging on the walls. It’s a real-life Parisian atelier feel.
The wall of the atelier and boutique are lined with beautiful ribbons, old vintage chairs and hat stands created by the La Chapellerie – the Parisian term for a hat workshop/ boutique!
Step 5: Assemblage
The final step, assemblage – putting together the hat. All the pieces of the material are then hand sewn together and final details like a contrasting band/ribbon are chosen and sown around the hat for a final touch. Et voilà!