The title is a bit of a misnomer.
There’s nothing mad about Leah Chalfen. She’s quite sane and she has a story to tell through the various designs of her hats. An often overlooked accessory is now making a resurgence and Chalfen is one of the designers at the forefront of this resurgence.
PD: You’re seeing a lot of younger artists in the music industry and in films wearing hats, do you think that hats are making sort of a comeback?
LC: I would say in today climate of competition younger artist are seeing the value of hats as an accessory in making themselves stand out. This took place in Hollywood in the 20’s and 40’s when younger stars and starlets wanted to create a character-a personality to be recognized by their glamour and their hats and it was successful. Hats back in those days said something about the personality of the person and that’s probably what is repeating itself today and the fact that we have to make ourselves stando ut. Hats are a brilliant accessory since they highlight the face, and the face is our ultimate image of our brand.
PD: Do you think that Millinery is a process lost on up and coming designers and design students?LC: Yes- because fashion designers are mainly focused on garments and Millinery is the field of hat design and accessories. It is far and few between the people who decide to dedicate themselves to just accessories and breaking that down that further just head wear. Todays society doesn’t have such an extreme need for- it’s a conscience accessory something extra- we don’t need a hat we need shoes. We don’t need a hat like we need a bag- women need pocketbooks- it’s a niche industry basically- it’s a supply and demand.
PD: I see on your website that you teach at Parsons.
LC: I do and it was an attempt to diffuse the knowledge and this semester knowone signed up because all the students chose classes that focused on the garment industry. It hasn’t taken hold in terms of popularity as far as in fashion schools.