Brenda Bryan's Headwear Wonderments
We haven't met, so I can only imagine what your head looks like. Probably it's bony, it's round, maybe it's enrobed in hair, but otherwise it's naked, and you might want to get on that, because why not. People have been wearing hats for thousands of years, before they abruptly seemed less crucial in the mid-1960s, in a time of car-travel conveniences and casual hairdos. Even so, fashiony headwear still adds a powerful visual spice, and today, local milliner and delightful weirdo Brenda Bryan of Lovewell Couture is bringing it back. You should, too.
From Brenda's broad collection of wonderments, the Dandy recalls cartoons and pimps and trendy pilgrims, and yet it ends up being elegant somehow—what with its blobby yet elongated silhouette, its buckle, its looping feather. To get quills to curve, "you scrape them with a knife, just like you curl paper ribbon for a package," says Brenda.
One design features a clingy fishnet veil that creeps down the face, well past the mouth—but the weave's holes are large enough to enable the visits of standard nightlife items: cocktail straws and portions of stranger's tongues, for instance. The effect is both practical and avant-garde. Some hats get starched into fanciful shapes: "I like bows, but they can get a little too precious," she says. "I want them to look more beastly."
One model wears a frothy halo made from ostrich feathers. On another is a pretty black rose, laboriously constructed from leather petals that had to be hand-cut, hand-pleated, and hand-stitched: "The whole time I was thinking, 'Why am I doing this? This is ridiculous,'" Brenda says. There's also a headpiece made of faux mink fur, folded like a hankie and gathered into an intricate bundle: "It's this weird, swirling sort of double-turban type thing," she says.
Her best work is a felt toque the color of blueberry Jell-O. With its magical blend of giant bows and jauntiness and peaked domes, it manages to seem folkloric and retro-futuristic all at once. Accordingly, it's the ideal accessory for a rich and glamorous grown-up—someone kooky yet ambitious, who wears mid-century stewardess uniforms and lives in a floating gingerbread house stocked with glossy pills and Formica counters and a talking-squirrel roommate.