Trendzillas, we’ve got a problem on our heads. Of all the trends New York Fashion Week showed us, the most disappointing one was also the most ubiquitous, smooching out of February like a lumpy sewer monster and leaving behind a trail of syrupy detritus.
Obviously, I’m talking about beanies. Beanies are a schloppy schlump that, like Head-On, can be applied directly to the forehead. Beanies are Gak for your hair. Beanies are the height of humility, if “humility” were the adverbial form of “humiliated.”
The beanie adds nothing extraordinary to the human experience. It makes your head look big and your face look sad, according to research I just created. What would Gay Talese think? Or Patrick MacDonald, whose ritual of taking his hat on and off was so beautifully documented in Bill Cunningham New York? Think of Erwin Panofsky, who hung an entire school of art historical thought on the hat; with the beanie, Studies in Iconology is just a “Get the look!” column in a half-baked fashion mag.
The situation is problematic for beanies embroidered with some kind of fashion-related portmanteau masquerading as a joke. Is “Féline” really the best we can do as wisecrackers?
We must stand up and say, “Probably, but let’s pretend not.” A hat ought to express an idea more complex than “Alice + Olivia Newton John.” A hat ought to be a stepstool to heaven. A hat ought to make you taller, more sophisticated, more likely to be seated next to Garry Kasparov at a restaurant or to find all those fiberglass tigers that’ve gone missing from Gramercy.
Where will you find said hat? Purists swear by Soho’s The Hat Shop, where the owner will measure your head and make you any chapeau in any old color you please. If you’re really a whiz-bang so-and-so, you can go to Lock & Co. in England. You know who else makes great hats? Albertus Swanepoel. And if you can’t let go of the grungy look, Reinhard Plank makes these ragged cloches that look like Malcolm McLaren took a pair of scissors to Lock & Co. (also at Maryam Nassir Zadeh).