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Designer Spotlight

Hats Off to the Monarch Beach Milliner Who Tops Chapeaus With Whimsy


Hats shouldn't be reserved for special occasions, says Linda Eastwood. "It's important that people have fun with hats," she notes. "A hat shouldn't be a serious acquisition."

The word fun perfectly describes Eastwood's direction into millinery. The Monarch Beach designer generously embellishes colorful hats with clusters of silk flowers, netting and fanciful ribbons of grosgrain, sateen or velvet. Brims are trimmed with pearls or gold cord.

The results are often whimsical, such as a wide-brimmed straw hat piled high with garlic, carrots and asparagus. Another features an ivory band of taffeta with black music notation. On cowboy hats, she's added gingham ribbon and cabbage roses.

"You have to be prepared to get attention when you wear them," Eastwood said recently at a trunk show at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point.

Indeed, her custom hats are not for the demure nor those wanting to be inconspicuous. But Eastwood has developed a following in areas where flash is a way of life, along the West Coast, in Chicago, Dallas and Palm Beach.

An architect who turned to decorating hats as a creative outlet ("I design everything that covers your head--from houses to hats," she joked), her passion for fanciful chapeaus actually began in her youth. Much of her influence came from her grandmother, who for years worked as a milliner in New York.

It was not until last year when more than friends began pressing her to sell hats that she decided to take her hobby seriously.

"My concept is to help clients lighten up their schedule," she said. "Whether it's picking up the kids or attending a formal luncheon, it's nice not to have to worry about constantly primping."

Linda Eastwood Originals start at $285 for straws, $340 for felt. Each comes in a black faux alligator leather hat box.

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