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Head Over Heels In Love With A La Tête

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As you look through A La Tête‘s Fall 2010 collection of headbands, fascinators, and hats, your mind will likely be flooded with vintage visual references, from Josephine Baker’s feather headdresses to Vivien Leigh’s chic veiled hats, and yet no single piece looks like a piece of costume institute memorabilia.

In the year since A La Tête’s launch, Philadelphia-born designer Jessica Abraham has already enjoyed the type of breakthrough moments of which young designers dream. After honing her design talents at fashion companies like Alessandro Dell’Acqua, J.Lo’s Sweetface, and Chris Han, the New York-based Parsons graduate began experimenting with creating fairy tale-inspired hair accessories. When she heard of a Henri Bendel open see, where she could showcase her wares to potential buyers, she finally decided to create a full collection of headbands, which she describes as “organic and feminine, with a lot of silk organza and wool gauze with raw edges to create an elegant yet undone feel.” Blair Waldorf may be done with headbands, but the rest of the world clearly isn’t — almost immediately upon unveiling A La Tête’s debut collection, Abraham was featured in the venerable fashion industry rag WWD. Since then, she has followed up with a Spring 2010, a romantic bridal collection, and a capsule headband collection for Urban Outfitters.

For fall, Abraham is focusing more heavily on her hat designs, which are immaculately sculpted and would make noted milliners like Philip Treacy and Lily Daché look on with envy. “I really like organic, fluid shapes,” says Abraham of her aesthetic as a milliner. “I’ always enjoyed draping when I was working in clothing, and I’ve kind of taken that into millinery with some of the drapes and folds that I create in the hats and headpieces.  I’m always inspired by vintage and the costume nature of a hat or headpiece, but I always make sure the pieces have some totally unique aspect so that it doesn’t look like an actual vintage hat.”

Pictured here are some of my favorite pieces in the Fall 2010 collection, which should be available for purchase in stores and online in August (you can pre-order at ALaTete.net at this time). At top, you’ll find the “Carmen” (one of my absolute favorites), a fur felt hat with a hand-folded taffeta rosette positioned atop an array of black-and-white peacock and coque feathers arranged in a fan-like manner. It’s the type of hat you could imagine Madonna wearing in her Evita days (think of the pieces she wore in the “Take A Bow” video). Next, you’ll find the “Luella” (with which I’m beyond smitten), a coquette, pleated fur felt cloche with a thick, hand dyed silk ribbon and a pheasant feather juxtaposed over said trim. You can easily see the 1930s influence here, with the simple cloche hats donned by actresses like Vilma Banksy coming to mind, and yet Abraham modernizes the silhouette with the seamless, origami-esque curves worked into the top of the hat and the way the brim curves outward ever so slightly to create a bit of a bell shape. Third from top, you’ll find encounter the “Cameron,” a velour/beaver felt combo cowboy hat with a hand dyed silk ribbon, bow detail, and a single ostrich feather peeking out and extending upwards from the center of the bow. I love how this piece takes a classic Indiana Jones-eque silhouette and softens it through the usage of caressable, textured fabrics and a dainty ribbon dyed in hues that recall a sky in a watercolor masterpiece.

Other standout hat designs include the “Davina” (pictured third below), an asymmetrical draped fur felt bucket hat that nods to he brimless cloches worn by Louise Brooks in her heyday but which also incorporates modern, undulating folds, and the “Randy” (pictured first below), a burgundy fur felt fedora that reminds me of the hat Diane Kruger wore in Inglorious Basterds, but with softer, more curved ridges. It also manages to embody the romance of a Casablanca-esque hat while retaining the strength of form we associate with fedoras.

If you prefer more of a flapper-ready look, check out the “Sybil” fascinators (pictured above, last), which feature silk taffeta flowers atop lush feathers.

Be a modern day Marlene Dietrich with these head-turners!


Pictured above: A La Tête “Carmen” hat, $225; A La Tête “Camilla” hat, $200; A La Tête “Cameron” hat, $200; and A La Tête “Sybil” fascinator. All available at ALaTete.net

Pictured below: A La Tête “Randy” hat, $200; A La Tête “Davina” hat, $250; and A La Tête “Tami” fascinator. All available at ALaTete.net


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