Turning heads in stylish locally-made hats

Red Trilby Wool Felt by Drop of a Hat. PHOTO |
Red Trilby Wool Felt by Drop of a Hat. PHOTO | MWIKALI LATI 

Wearing the Royal Dream hat, Chloé Mitchell of Drop of a Hat – a couture millinery – says that people should not be afraid of wearing hats. Apart from being a stylish fashion accessory, wearing one also protects one’s skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Chloe is often told, “I am not a hat person”, and that to her just means that the person has not found the style of hat to suit them. Her hats range from fascinators and cocktail hats to elegant felt safari hats.

Her hats are bespoke, unique, elegant, youthful and fashionable. She has styled some to be worn one day for a wedding, the next for a barbeque, a lunch party or just for going out shopping.

Others are stylish but are worn to shade and protect from the sun. Chloe says that one of her mother’s friends has the most amazing skin as she has always worn a hat outdoors.

To Chloé, hats are the best option for protecting one’s skin. She is currently working on having some of her straw hats lined with SPF fabric to protect the scalp as well.

“I create sun hats with the thought in mind to melanoma and other skin cancers as they are becoming more deadly and common. Not enough people wear hats and when I design them, I try to keep in mind making those that aren’t dull and that people would be happy to wear more often,” she says.

Rabbit fur

Chloe works with materials that include peachbloom felt, wool felt, straw and sinamay. However, if she was to pick a favourite, it would be Peachbloom - the rabbit fur felt. Although pricier than the wool felt, the quality and look is superior. The prices start from Sh3,000 and no two hats will be identical.

Inspired by her love for Africa which is portrayed in her most recent collection ‘Out of Africa’, each hat is named and when one buys, they are buying a character to go with it. They are currently working on a new collection that Chloe hopes will be out by mid-year.

Drop of a Hat was established in September last year after Chloe came back from her course in the United Kingdom. She studied under Rose Cory, one of the top names in millinery and who was the appointed milliner to the Queen Mother, and then with Louise Pocock who has a more modern and younger approach with colours and techniques.

Millinery was not on her career radar when young Chloé had to create 12 to 15 pieces of artwork for her Advanced Level art course in high school that included a newspaper dress, a dried acrylic painted top and a chicken wire/fabric dress.

“After school, my mum whose aunt had been a milliner about 70 years ago, saw a talent in me with designing and suggested I go to the UK for a millinery course to see if it was something that I would like to do. I immediately fell in love with hat making and the rest, as they say is now history,” she says.

Hat boxes

In the UK, hats are worn often for many events from weddings to horse races where they are mandatory. Chloé is happy that her role model, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is bringing hats back as a fashionable accessory.

As per this milliner’s suggestions, all that one needs to start their hat collection is a sun hat, a cocktail hat and a felt hat that can be worn for most occasions with perhaps a few interchangeable trimmings or accessories. Chloe is also working on having hat boxes locally made for their easy storage. 

Picking a hat that suits you depends on the style, shape, depth of the crown, material, colour and trimmings. With Chloé there to give you her expert advice as you order, you are sure to become a hat person.  Drop of a Hat creations can be ordered through her website or you can catch her at the local craft fairs.