Before becoming one of Vancouver's favourite milliners, Claudia Schulz was a social worker with a penchant for hats. She still remembers her first hat loves: one was a faux fur beige hat with hanging pompoms on each side, the other was a red crochet hat with a navy blue flower made by her mother. The second one caused her some distress as her classmates teased her about it, but as Schulz explains, "I couldn't care less and still wore it!"
Hats On: Claudia Schulz
by ANYA GEORGIJEVIC
A couple decades later, she looked into the possibility of making hats herself, and eventually found a milliner here in Vancouver that taught her the hat-making process. She perfected this process over time. The felt hood is stretched with steam over a wooden hat block where it's pinned into shape. There it sits for twenty-four hours until it's completely dry. Once it's dried, she begins cutting the hood into shape and molding it into the desired form by further steaming and ironing. When the shape is achieved, the hat is embellished with felt pieces, buttons, buckles and pompoms, giving each one its unique look. Schulz prefers the cloche style made popular in 1920s and 1930s. The simple geometric shape of the cloche is what appeals to the designer: the snug fit and its bell shape with a small brim. "I love fashion, but I don't follow what's in this season. I'd much rather create something timeless," says Schulz.
Her collections are released once a year, during the summer, just in time before the fall season starts. There are three distinct shapes in the 2011 collection: the cloche, the fedora, and the equestrian, all in a palette of black, charcoal and purple. Each is spectacular in its own right. Fedoras are the most complex in shape, with multiple folds sculpting the form. It's boyish and very reminiscent of Robin Hood, but instead of sporting a feather, it's got two wooden sticks attached to a patch of leather-a much more sculptural option. In keeping with Schulz's preferences, the cloche remains fairly classic with an addition of a simple flower or stripes. The equestrian, however, takes the style into a more playful direction. One is decorated with an owl while another flaunts a large, pink wool pompom. Each hat is sharply cut, with minimalist lines and well-thought out details, all of which makes for a striking collection. These hats would be a crowning touch (no pun intended) for any winter ensemble.
Nowdays, hats have become highly overlooked in everyday attire. They were once considered to be the "must" accessory for both men and women, a cherry on the top. Schulz sticks by her belief that "a hat rounds up any outfit." It's true. A well-constructed hat brings a level of sophistication to one's appearance. In fact, they were once considered an indicator of one's social status. It's no wonder the royals always sport them for formal functions. As for hats in the summer season, the designer is making us wait for now: "I thought about making something for spring, but have not arrived there yet. I'm really fond of felt, so that's why I stick with winter hats." It sure sounds like there is hope.
Claudia Schulz hats are available at http://www.claudiaschulz.com/.