Hat design by Eia Radosavljevic
Photo Scott Harrison | Model Anna
MUA Dawn Penich and Elizabeth Bilow
The Vanity Fair invitation came to me through my friend, Carolyn who had won a contest for her book display of “Oscar Night: 75 Years of Hollywood Parties.” Carolyn designed a vintage, dressing table in homage to Katherine Hepburn, and asked me to pose for a few photographs. It didn’t take much cajoling, since I had been captivated with Hepburn’s individual style and wicked jaw since my muddling days of middle school.
Finding my name calligraphied on one of the most coveted invitations in Hollywood began a search for my own Oscar night creation. I was unwilling to trying on hundreds of dresses, but determined to indulge my own instincts, and dress to convey a singular style of my own. Once again, Ms. Hepburn proved an appropriate inspiration.
I was spared the rigors of the fitting room at Dame Couture, www.damecouture.com. As purveyors of the old, bespoke tradition they design gowns according to individual specifications and measurements. Perhaps, most fitting, Dame Couture’s label is inspired by old Hollywood , with each dress named for a legend of the shimmering, silver screen. For my jewelry, I found a unique bracelet from the forties at Antiques on Michigan ; an “atomic” design of black, woven bone.
...And still I sought a signature piece. I desired to wear a hat; a small, rather delicate creation and recalled seeing the perfect designer, but a few months prior.
In a typical fiasco of gracefulness, I was enjoying dinner with out-of-town friends at the Drake Hotel when I collided with the waiter, knocking a perfect glass of wine directly into my lap. As if this clumsiness were not enough, I sent my coffee in chase of the wine. With my company fully amused, I tried to recover some, small dignity as I twice escaped to the ladies room.
It was on these humbling, little treks through the arcade of the Drake Hotel, that I caught sight of an enchanting display of hats by Eia Millinery Design, www.eiahatart.com.
Eia, recognized for her elegant as well as humorous hat designs, was thrilled to work with me in designing the perfect hat for Oscar night. I met Eia at her Lakeview studio, where she creates and designs from the finest velour felts, glove leathers, vintage straws, and even plastics . Eia sat me down at a vanity that reminded me of an outlandish style on the head of Marie Antoinette. The mirror and table top brimmed with colorful feathers, antique embroidery, flowers, and vintage jewelry, any of which could be selected for my hat, but first we needed to find the most flattering style.
Unlike trying on hundreds of dresses, with hats you enjoy all the exciting possibilities of design, without any of the exhausting gymnastics of the fitting room. In choosing the perfect hat we took into consideration the style of my hair, the color and design of my dress, and my lucky talisman - a beaded evening bag that had belonged to my great grandmother.
We decided to create a small felt hat that would be hand blocked on a vintage wooden hat block from the Brussels flea market. This felt form was then draped with green silk to draw a hint of color from my dress. Eia partially concealed the silk with fifty-seven, hand wired spirals of black chenille, and as a final dramatic gesture attached a vintage mesh ‘nose veil’. The entire hat was hand stitched, creating a perfect fit.
The week before the party I was a fashion dervish. It was in this headlong rush that I suffered another tumble in dignity. While on my way to visit Eia and pick up my hat, I managed to trip on a sidewalk crack and land on my elbow with a mighty scrape. Thankfully, Eia patched me up and sent me off to Los Angeles with good wishes and a hat of sophisticated whimsy and elegant subtlety - perfect for the Vanity Fair Party.
The actual party remains a moonlit illusion; more stardust and tinsel than any understood reality. I ogled Jeremy Irons as he glided across the room, and ran into the intriguing Hilary Swank and her stunning dress in the ladies room. I even rubbed bruised-elbows with Oscar when he was placed but an inch from my scraped-up, doctored arm. Naturally, I had great fear of mishap for my other elbow or worse, but managed to remain on my feet for the entire evening without calamity.
Utterly singular and unique to my expectations, my hat, Eia’s hat, was the success of my Oscar night. Providing pleasure for the admiration and compliments of the Party, the hat, a long forgotten staple of polite society, regained prestige and enjoyed a pleasurable night tipped to Hollywood .
If I have any insight for dressing on Oscar night, or any night of great adventure and excitement, turn your eyes to dear Ms. Hepburn and dress exactly as you wish. Suit yourself, by following your own individual style. Only this, as you have been told a million times before, is great style worth following.