To quote American author Saul Bellow, “In an age of madness, to expect to be untouched by madness is a form of madness.” Genius and intemperance, eccentricity and extravagance, creativity and color, but also high-quality millinery and craftsmanship shape the mood of the Borsalino Fall 2010 Millinery Collection. This season’s collection was on display gallery-style at the company’s showroom in the northwest quadrant of Milan, pairing more than one hundred headpieces, hats, and millinery accents with modern artworks. Italian messages painted on mirrors hung opposite the hats and paintings, expanding the exhibit’s artistic balance.
Whether channeling Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago or William Somerset Maugham’s Up in the Villa—screen siren or not—there truly was a hat there for every fit, every head, every occasion, every setting or time period. The open space was inviting with plush settees and ottomans; architectural details enveloped a room full of guests with sunken halls, exposed brick, soft archways, and overhead skylights. As Madonna’s ‘Nobody Knows Me” echoed through the space, the wait staff passed through the crowd in true hospitable Italian fashion with petit fours and sparkling wine.
According to the company’s profile, the Alessandria-based hat company founded in 1857 by Giuseppe Borsalino, can boast numerous firsts in its more than 150-year history. In 1910, it organized Italy’s first graphic design competition (Concorso Artistico Zenit); in 1913, it produced one of the major films in the tradition now called industrial cinema; from the late 1800’s through the 1970’s it collaborated with one of the industry’s most important graphic designers, successfully communicating evolutions in taste and fashion: from Marcello Dudovich to Gino Simonetti, from Walter Resentera to Gino Boccasile, from Max Huber to Luigi Veronesi and Armando Testa. Today as ever, Borsalino hats are renowned for their quality and the careful production process which requires no less than fifty different phases and takes seven weeks in order to create a true Borsalino, an embodiment of tradition in the present. Although the company primarily focuses on millinery pieces, Borsalino also licenses menswear separates, glasses, fragrances, silk goods, and home accessories.
The exhibit featured hats for men and women as well as children. From the practical to the inventive, there were a variety of styles to choose from; menswear derby hats, felt fedoras, panama hats, tweed newsboy caps, cowboy hats, top hats, reinterpreted helmets, wide-brimmed sun hats, cloche feather caps, headbands, ear muffs, turbans, trapper hats, and aviators were all reworked by patching together plaid and checked fabrics or by adding fringes, feathers, appliqués, pompoms, and ribbons. There was also a subtle variation of colors from traditional neutrals like black, espresso, grey, and taupe to bursts of aqua, lilac, salmon, and mint. Adorned with unconventional prints, notions, and treatments, the hats were injected with whimsy and personality, seemingly taking on a life of their own. Borsalino hats have become art pieces in their own right. Taken from the title of German surrealist painter Max Ernst’s 1920 gouache masterpiece, Eil capello che fa l’uomo, I suppose the hat really does make the man!
Images provided courtesy of Borsalino
For additional information, please visit http://www.borsalino.com/