Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spinning Straw Into Gold: Steven’s Hats of Italy…Plus a Prelude on Styling a Hat

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This is what you’ve all been waiting for…We are beginning our “Hats Heard Round the World” Tour! Beauty Shall Save the World will be featuring every artist who has contributed to this challenge, and today I’m so excited to present the first milliner in our project.

We are traveling to Cosenza, Italy, where we discover the wares of Stefano Costabile at his atelier, “Steven’s Hats.”

When you enter the lab of Stefano, aka Steven, it’s akin to getting to Alice’s Wonderland, free from time boundaries, in order to express oneself through fantasy. Madness becomes genius and hats become wearable art objects.

Steven, who opened his shop in 2006 from a deep passion for hats, learned felt art from an old craftsman and he inherited what he now defines as alchemy: the mixture of natural and chemical treatments give to felt the distinctive softness that make his hats of prime quality. Steven can make any kind of hat, for men or for women and his hats can be personalized, made to measure with textiles made in Italy from leather to cashmere; or straws such as panama to paper straw, from parasisol to sinamay. But it is his sinamay straw sculpted masterpieces for ladies, featured exclusively in this article, that utterly beguile me.

With this kind of straw Steven has created fascinators covered with silk, satin, lace and macramé. In addition, “sinamay is forged in a personal way and it gives life to real sculptures,” he stated.

In the top photo, I am wearing one of the hats that traveled all the way from Steven’s atelier in Italy to our BSSTW headquarters here in California…..this black-and-white sinamay straw wonder, reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, that frames the face so very beautifully with a twisted, bustled bow in the back. I absolutely love this hat by Steven. It’s ripe with coquetry and drama…and its scale is undeniably profound. This hat is a real show-stopper!

When I was styling this hat for the photo above, taken by John Kiepke of A Special Touch Photography, I knew I wanted a 1960s black-and-white, elongated Sophia Loren cat-eye, and my makeup artist, Miles Berdache Lynk, was down for the challenge. Just look at Miles’s workmanship, which took him only approximately 45 minutes. If you are a seasoned makeup artist or merely talented in makeup application like a lot of today’s youth, you may be able to stylize your cosmetics to complement the lead garment or accessory, in this case, this stunning hat by Steven. A little black sheath dress with a lethal side slit or an ebony fur shrug is all you need.

The value and versatility of a hat like this cannot be overstated. It is so elegant and timeless, at once ethereal, yet iconic. Perfect for the races, a wedding, a gala or, in this case, a photoshoot!

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The piece above, on model Evelyn Lewis and photographed by An La, is yet another example of Steven’s mastery of sinamay straw, in tantalizing turquoise. Yet again, Steven employs the use of impressive scale and in this case an almost liquidic movement due to the voluminous, gathered ruffles he’s finessed from the straw.

Just look at the elements of this photograph, styled by my Australian friend, Lynette Pater and her assistant Anna Capiga. Lynette is a tremendous talent in styling and this is a really beautiful example of how you don’t need much, other than a fabulous hat, to capture the attention of everyone in the room. A romantic, dotted tulle shawl in seafoam by Judith Penak and a chunky pearl necklace from Carole Beros Le Dain Designs complete the breathtaking look. Hair is kept minimal so the hat can shine, and makeup artist Mishel Vounatsos Bratsos focuses on a smokey eye with a ripe melon lip.

Do not allow your hair and makeup to compete with the hat. Instead, they should complement one another, but a couture hat such as this always takes center stage. And remember that the milliner has slaved for countless hours to create a wearable work of art for you, so it must be placed artistically on the head, not merely plonked down thoughtlessly without a care regarding the rest of your ensemble.

You will get more tips from stellar stylist Lynette Pater on BSSTW as we further examine how to properly style a hat, and you will also see another hat from Steven’s Hats when I reveal the second masterpiece he sent me for the “Hats Heard Round the World” Tour, so stay tuned for more mad hattery on the way! And to get in touch with Steven for a custom creation, he can be reached at:

Cappelleria Artigianale Steven’s Hats
Via Panebianco, 350
87100 Cosenza, Italy
Tel: 3381178574
Info: @stevenshats.com

Peace. Love. Beauty.

~ SHAN

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