ONE THING IS CERTAIN: When you buy a hat from the Hat Gallery, you won't see yourself coming and going. With some 200 hat blocks to choose from, proprietor/designer Elizabeth Marcel creates one-of-a-kind hats that she refers to as "free-forming, hand-sculpted art. Most depict a nostalgic European flavor," she says. "For instance, a hat may dip dramatically on one side."
Utilizing vintage straw (some of which is hand-dyed and comes from the Philippines, China, Italy and Ecuador) or fur felts (from Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, France and Italy), the hats may be adorned with antique ribbons, buttons, folded silk flowers or tapestries. Depending on what Marcel finds on her buying travels, some of her creations may even feature such unlikely details as Victorian curtain pull cords or drapery fabric circa the 1930s. While there's always a good selection of hats (ranging from $195 to $310), special-request orders are welcome.
And for those who'd like to learn how to create their own millinery, Marcel teaches monthly classes ($200 for two consecutive sessions). Not only can you become a hat sculptor, but you will also be contributing to a worthwhile cause: Proceeds go to the downtown L.A. Union Rescue Mission for the homeless.
Hat Gallery, 5632 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 463-3163.