I had the pleasure of meeting hat designer Susan van der Linde and her husband yesterday at a trunk show to benefit the Emerald Necklace Conservancy for Party in the Park. But before I sat down to look at her beautiful hats, I was greeted with a friendly smile from owner Nicholas Penna and the lovely staff at Salon Capri. I was treated to a beautiful blowout and styling by expert stylist Graziella Lembo. I’ve never been to the salon, but was immediately taken by the inviting decor and comfortable clean sleek feeling. The atmosphere–distressed wood paneling juxtaposed with the clean white cabinets, was like being inside a Philippe Starck hotel. I asked for something simple as to not overpower the hats, and Graziella styled my locks with ease and speed and made “making waves” seem like a piece of cake (although I know trying this at home would definitely not yield the same results!).
I walked over to chat with Susan and her husband Tom in the beautiful makeshift boutique and discovered that Susan and I had a lot in common. In addition to an eye for style, we shared a love of France; we had both lived in Neuilly while in Paris. Upon returning to the states, Susan eventually apprenticed with Don Marshall, the ultimate hat designer who had designed hats for Grace Kelly in his day. After his death in 1995, Susan started her own business to keep up all the trade secrets she had learned from the master.
Named by Vanity Fair as one of the top 10 Milliners of Fascinators, Susan describes her style as classic styles with a twist or pop of color or texture. I sat down with Susan to see what’s hot in hats.
Fascinator vs a full hat?
Fascinators have their place and should frame the face of the woman. But hats are beautiful and more dramatic – a woman needs to be certain of her ability to handle the attention wearing a full hat will give. If you are not confident enough to wear a full hat, then a fascinator is a very good option. They can be fun and whimsical and just as dramatic as a full hat too, worn by the right woman.
Trends in hats ?
Go big or go home!. Women want to go for drama. Hats seem to keep developing in materials, shape and how it frames the face of a woman. I am also seeing a lot of developments in texture and color. A Texan wants to look good from head to toe, so she is making sure her hat matches perfectly with her outfit, whereas a New Yorker is more concerned about being the perfect fashion plate, and about what others are wearing. Boston has a very polite crowd of hat wearers, who appreciate the beauty of other women’s hats.
Hat Etiquette-Europe vs. America?
There are very strict rules about wearing hats in Europe, such as, if you are going to an event after 6pm, you would NEVER wear a hat. It makes sense because there is typically no longer bright sunlight after this hour. Europeans, especially the French, who I have the most experience with, are more sedate, they will wear a single color from head to toe–very monochromatic. It isn’t as exciting for me as a designer, so I spice it up by adding a fun color to a classic shape, or vice versa and a crazy shape in a more sedate color like taupe. I always enjoy giving a little bit of a wink too, like a bumble bee, or other jewel attachment–something the client provides, but I will certainly direct them as to where to pin it on the hat. In the US, rules are more lenient, and you can be more adventurous with your hat. Americans can easily change up the color of the hat, and don’t need to be dressed in a monochromatic palette. I like the flexibility of that, and find it very satisfying as a designer.
I had a great time with Susan trying on her hats, she had a way of placing them on my head in positions I would not have thought of myself. She tilted the hats more forward and worn this way it gave a sense of allure, as the eyes just peeked out slightly under the brim. I could use her help in my hat placement on May 13th, wonder if she’ll be in town? She helped pick perfect pieces to complement my face and body and I am confident she chose the perfect hat for me. I highly recommend stopping by to shop her collection and at the very least to try on some of the most gorgeous hats of our time.
Susan will be taking walk-ins to shop her hats at Salon Capri until Thursday at 7pm, and will ship any special orders to arrive in time for The Party in the Park. 15% of the proceeds from trunk show item sales will be donated to the Justine Mee Liff Fund for the Emerald Necklace.
Party in the Park attendees are invited to book hair blowout and/or styling appointments for the morning of Party in the Park (May 13th) at any of SalonCapri’s three Massachusetts locations and the salon will donate 15% of the cost of services to the Justine Mee Liff Fund. Hair appointments can be booked via phone by calling: Boston/617-236-0020, Newton/617-969-1970 or Dedham’s Legacy Place/781-320-0900.
Photocredit: Lisa Richov