As you all know by now, I am a bit of a hat enthusiast, and no more so than now, with all the burgeoning milliners and their spectacular array of artistic headwear that is surging into fashion, and will continue to surge into fashion, well into fall and next spring. A hat or headpiece always seems to look appropriate to me now, and what I mean by that is that there is always an occasion for beautiful, appearance-enhancing displays of millinery on every outfit that I see these days! Whether it’s spring, summer, winter or fall, and no matter how casual, elegant or avant garde the situation may be, I see the hat as the perfect accessory for every occasion!
So today I am going to introduce you to the brilliant millinery of a very talented woman, Polish-born Londoner and next up in our Hats Heard Round the World Project, England’s very own Agnieszka Stańczyk of “Hats by Agnieszka.” Agnieszka’s hats are such beautiful and unique little treasures, so memorable, so couture, and they are painstakingly crafted by hand by Agnieszka and Agnieszka alone in her amazing studio in Greenwich, a little place bursting with creativity and of course, adorable hats.
Above, I am wearing one of her fine creations, a white sinamay straw fascinator, embellished with a generous fanning of goose feathers. This fascinator is so ideal for a bride or for a chic party-goer at a New Year’s soirée. Shot by Austin Heppler with makeup and hair by Lauren Warner, I styled this fascinator with an enormous tulle ruff that I created for the shoot. I love the look of the pure white feathers with the frothy tulle ruff; it looks so ethereal and at once modern, yet mid-century! It’s edgy, yet elegant. This is an iconic piece of headwear.
Milliner Louise Green has famously stated that wearing a hat is like having a baby or a puppy; everyone stops to coo and talk about it. This quote could not be any more appropriate for Agnieszka’s show-stopping millinery, which is so gloriously imagined and executed that it almost leaves one speechless. Just look at the ravishing, red-and-black confection below, shot by San Francisco photographer Ross Pelton on model Madison Flowers, with makeup by Jasmine Cardenas and hair by Shannon Ward. I styled this shot, by the way, using a vintage couture dress with a giant red-and-black Oriental brocade bow shrug.
I love this hat so much. It’s so couture, and Agnieszka told me it was inspired by Japanese culture. “I made it especially for an exhibition sponsored by Swarovski,” she explained. And if you look very closely, you will see the dazzling display of Swarovski crystals encrusting the twisted chin strap and the trim and the chopsticks of this magnificent headpiece. I’ve really never seen a hat quite like this, and it inevitably tranforms the woman who wears it into a walking work of art. I think it’s brilliant the way that Agnieszka fused the soft silk velvet with the tangled roughness of sinamay straw. And although I chose to partner this hat with vintage couture, any of her pieces are so infinitely wearable and modern that they could easily pair with couture from any era, especially modern chinoiserie dresses or a current couture offering with an Asian sensibility.
Above is another creation by Agnieszka, modeled again by Madison Flowers and shot by Ross Pelton, with hair by Shannon Ward and makeup by Jasmine Cardenas. Agnieszka told me that the black feather fascinator is an effect of her fascination with Ernst Haeckel’s 1904 ‘Art Forms of Nature’ and the art of 3-D designs. She asked her friend, artist Parm Rai to design flowers inspired by Haeckel’s drawings. “My aim was to combine the natural softness of feathers with the flowers,” which are 3-D printed by a computer.
I styled this hat, as I did the one above, with more vintage couture: a black wool dress, studded with mirrors, and matching bolero jacket, circa 1960. Both photos are captured in the idyllic Japanese Tea Gardens of San Francisco, California.
You really must see this hat up close to believe the detail and magnificence of the 3-D black dandelion-type flowers, which posses a strangely rubbery consistency that contrasts the silky black feathers in such beautiful dichotomy. This is the type of work that makes a hat memorable: the loving attention to detail; the wonderful abandonment of rigid standards and the creative affair that a milliner has with their headpiece before the creation is shipped away to its new owner.
“My biggest ambition is to make my hats timeless, wearable and flattering,” Agnieszka stated. And she definitely does. All of her hats are constructed for maximum comfort, great fit and flattery, and made from the best materials with a high degree of creativity. What more could a girl ask for?!? We love you, Agnieszka!