My rule for making an unnecessary purchase is as follows: If you are still thinking about the item days after you resist the impulse buy, it’s time to take out the plastic. So when I found myself still thinking about the cashmere cloche that I passed up at Le Bon Marché in Paris in 2011, I knew I had a problem on my hands. You see, the Amex was here in the U.S. and the hat was across the Atlantic tucked away in history.
Having found myself at the end of a dark road with no forseeable opportunity to ameliorate my poor decision making, I had all but given up hope. And then, out of nowhere, a simple twist of fate gripped me like a pair of Spanx: I met a Finnish milliner making custom hats in New Orleans. “Send me a picture of whatever you like and I can probably make it,” she said, filling my head with visions of Audrey Hepburn and my heart with dreams of Grace Kelly.
Well, I’m here to tell you that fashion fairy tales do come true. (And not just for people like Jessica Simpson …. but that shoe line really was genius). Tiia Maria, Finnish milliner and proud Marigny resident has debuted a collection of hand made hats right here in New Orleans.
Using laces from the 1920s, feathers from the 1940s, and luxurious European fur felt and grosgrain ribbon, Tiia’s carefully crafted hats are nothing short of exquisite. She uses quality antique fabrics she has brought over from Europe mixed with pieces she finds at the famed Promenade Fabrics on St. Charles to mold fabrics on her antique hat block. Each piece is truly unique and custom to the client; she can do a headpiece for special occasions or something you can wear every day.
You can catch her at Frenchmen Art Market on some Saturday nights, but her real storefront is on the web or out of her studio, where she invites clients to come for custom hat fittings and consultations.
So whether you are looking for that special headpiece for a Mardi Gras lunch or a fedora that you can sport on your next trip to Maurepas, everyone can use a little unnecessary in their life.
Now clearly I didn’t turn into Grace Kelly as I had hoped and I probably won’t be wearing my French cloche to Maurepas next weekend, but I will most definitely be prepared the next time I visit Downton Abbey.
Embrace the unnecessary. Happy perusing, everyone.
A big thanks to Jason Kruppa for photographing this piece. You can find more of his inspirational work here.