© Christina Christ-Glahn
Stroll with a hat
Hat parade 2011
Back in 2005, two Barcelona milliners had a fine idea. To inaugurate a ‘hat parade’ in the city, where participants could sport elegant and eye-catching headgear at a time when the custom of regularly wearing hats was more or less extinct.
Today, the two women, Nina Pawlowsky and Cristina De Prada, have overseen the success and growth of their initiative—the first year, around 100 people took part; in 2011, the seventh edition, it was around 500. And the popularity of the gathering seems set to continue.
“We wanted to do something to encourage people to wear hats every day, and not only on a special occasion. Organising a Hat Parade where each person could wear their favourite hat or just one they had at home seemed like a good idea. Obviously we were inspired by New York’s Easter Parade.”
Following the success of the event, last year, Cristina and Nina organised their first ‘St. Catherine’s Night’. Catherine is the patron saint of milliners, and with her feast day falling in November (the 25th, to be precise), the winter celebration makes for a good contrast to the spring-time parade. As a night event, it also had a very different feel from the daytime, family-friendly passejada amb barret.
Clearly as milliners, both Cristina and Nina are keen on the wearing of hats on a regular basis: “it’s the one accessory that rounds up an outfit, like the dot atop the ‘i’.” Asked why they think that social norms flipped 180 degrees regarding the wearing of hats from the middle of the last century to now, they give an understandably considered response: “People think they have to get rid of conventions and believe that wearing a hat is one of them, but in the end they are victims of other conventions without realising. A few decades ago wearing a hat was a dress code that could not be avoided, and not wearing one made you stand out. Today wearing a hat means the opposite, because with a hat you are the odd one out, and the hat makes your individuality stand out. Nevertheless, many chain stores now carry hats, and we may soon be back to seeing a majority of people wearing hats.”
If you want to take part in the parade, but don’t actually own a hat, the women have a few suggestions about where to look in Barcelona for the perfect piece. “For a start, Sombrereria Mil and Obach, two retail shops that have been open for more than a century now in Barcelona, but there are more recent ones like Chapo, Dekap or, for example, Gratacós, a luxury fabric boutique that also sells occasion hats.”
And what should you be looking for? “A good hat is a hat made from the best quality material, like fur felt for winter and straw or fabric for summer. It’s very important that it’s well made and that the shape suits the wearer.” Oh yes, the all-important question, how to find a hat that suits you? Not everyone feels that they can wear a hat, but the two professionals believe that this sensation is just down to us not being used to wearing them and so we make mistakes when trying to choose something. Their advice? Keep in mind your personality and whether you’re looking for an everyday hat or something for a special occasion. Visit a specialised hat shop for professional advice about what looks good and how to wear your chosen hat. “In the beginning it may seem a bit difficult to find the right hat, but be sure there is one out there for you!”
8ª Passejada amb Barret. April 15th, from the top of Rambla Catalunya, starting at midday. www.ambbarret.com
Sombrerería Mil: Fontanella 20
Obach: Call 2
Chapo: Passeig de Gràcia 55
Dekap: Sant Vicenç 29
Gratacós: Passeig de Gràcia 110