Through the post came a photo of a hat that my friend Vanessa Baran, who is a stylist, made for her sister Victoria to wear to a wedding in Pennsylvania. I would love to see someone wear that at a summer wedding. Well, it's not a hat actually, it's a fascinator which is a term we here in the United States became familiar with during the wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. A fascinator is like an old-fashioned cocktail hat. It doesn't sit on the head like a regular hat but instead is attached with bobby pins or a strap. Decorative and amusing, it's meant to complement an outfit at a dressy occasion.
Vanessa explained to me that she and Victoria had gone hat shopping in Soho, but everything was quite expensive. "We're not going to do this," Vanessa said to Victoria, who is a senior associate at Robert A. M. Stern Architects. "I will make you a something."
Vanessa started with a small form shaped like a yarmulke. "I paraded all through those notion shops on 38th Street," she said. "I knew what I wanted but it was hard to find. I was thinking of a garden with three different kinds of flowers but then I found the pink feathers which matched the peony."
"I didn't have a wig form so I made it right on Victoria's head with a glue gun. We were supposed to leave the house at 1:00 so I sat her down at noon to proceed along with our project. It was really touch and go but it gave me great inspiration." Vanessa attached the fascinator with an elastic strap and since has added a pretty ribbon. She plans to make more under the name Fascinators by Baraness, and can be found at vanessabaran.com.
When I met Vanessa many years ago she was working at Vogue, in the research/fact-checking department I think. We went one Christmas to a party at her apartment on the upper west side which had a long terrace facing the Hudson River. She had decorated a big Christmas tree with birds of paradise flowers and small clear plastic bags filled with water and gold fish which sparkled as they swam among the white Christmas tree lights. It was a jaw-dropping sight, I'll tell you that. Now Vanessa works as a floral and props designer:
I love a girl who can create a hat one hour before the big event; she is doing her part to make the world more beautiful.