Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Paris Report #7: Hats Off!!

One of my fantasies is that in another life I was a hat maker in Paris, so my shopping radar is tuned into hat stores.
One sparkling spring morning Katherine and I were darting down a back street headed from the Bastille to the Marais.  We noticed this new shop, so of course we had to go in.
Called Mademoiselle Chapeaux, it was the first day they were open and we were welcomed in.
All is fresh and beautiful inside.

In France, land of the beret, the tradition of wearing hats has diminished somewhat.
BUT...for a certain kind of summer wedding, it is de rigeur for the women guests to wear a hat, and many of the hats you see here are designed for that purpose.
In another shop I discreetly watched a customer being assisted in choosing just the right hat to wear with her short shapely red sheath dress for a summer wedding.

I've started a collection of Paris hats found on each trip, so keep on the lookout for something I'll wear and that is in the financial picture.

The shop is run by 5 hat makers and includes a retail shop in the front with a workshop in the back with all the materials in use on display.  Here, she is working on a straw hat.  You can see the straw on the gizmo in the front of the photo.
The milliner was very friendly and proud of the new workspace and clearly loves her work. 
The exquisite straw hats are sewn from the strands shown here.
The straw (like flat yarn) is reeled off this gizmo as it is stitched together.
The milliner is so proud of this ancient straw hat sewing machine she found in Holland and restored.

Hat blocks and forms...some old, some new.  The tradition of making these forms continues in France and Italy, and the new ones are very expensive, especially because often the hat is made in 3 sizes.

Some hats are constructed with this 'fabric', called Sinamay, which is a foundation material used to construct hats.   Follow these two links or simply google in sinamay for a world of information on making hats from this material.
Pre-made sinamay brims and crowns.

A sampling of the hats on display in the front retail section of the shop.

One of the milliner/owners of the shop.  If you go to this page on the  Mademoiselle Chapeaux website, you can see her modeling some fabulous hats for sale in their internet store.
A customer trying on hats for a summer wedding.
Katherine liked this one.
I liked this version of the straw boater.
Marie Mercié
Across town, on the Left Bank, I discovered 
Marie Mercié  a renowned milliner with a jewel box shop and fabulous hats all made in Paris
....I've been searching for this store for years, spied the window going by on the bus.
 I found my Paris hat here....see it in the last photo in the blog.  Buying a hat means carrying it home, keeping it in a special bag, toting it through the airport, finding a special place in the overhead compartment, hoping it won't get crushed.  Always worth the effort! 

In the window at Marie Mercié

Snapshots of Random Hats All Over Paris

I loved this one....
In the window of a men's shop in the Marais. 

In the all white window at Hermès
Mary and Julie in our group found hats in a shop up in Montmartre, and Julie wore hers nearly every day!

Katherine bought this hat which is sewn of crisp lace so the hat crushes for travel.
Andie and Katherine found fabulous hats in Italy, and I'm wearing the hat I found at Marie Mercié. 


  1. I love hats. thanks so much for this post. I'm drooling!

  2. Nice lids! Thanks for this informative and entertaining post. Makes me want to go to Paris to buy a hat!


  3. Thank you very much for the article !
    It's great ! :-)
    Marie / Mademoiselle Chapeaux
    #hats #millinery #wedding

  4. Awesome pics . Thank you so much for sharing

  5. I love my orange linen Parisian hat! Never would have found the boutique without going on the May ParisTilton tour, thanks Marcy and Katherine.

  6. What a fun post! Makes me want to run out and buy a hat (if only I was in Paris).

  7. Great! I love hats and I hope that more young women use to wear them in the streets...
    Thanks for the lovely post!