Not just any old headgear intended to prevent warmth escaping from the top of one’s head—no, this was a search for a Hat suitable for two elegant weddings to be held in November and December.
I started at Edie Hats on Granville Island.This is a great shop, with soft lighting, a retro ambience and some delicious little cocktail-style confections of feathers and netting as well as dramatic large-brimmed items trimmed with velvet ribbon. I was drawn to many of these, though there was nothing in quite the right colours for the outfit I’d bought. The Donatella was stunning, though, if I’d only been planning a journey on the Orient Express.
On to Roxann’s in Fort Langley. Maybe I was a little early for the fall/winter styles and the store was still crowded with tourists. The same with Crown and Jewels in Newport Village, Port Moody.
Finally, I did a web search, which turned up Eleanor Mack in West Vancouver, established in 1948. I made a couple of attempts before I found the store open (their opening hours are not best suited to people who work Monday to Friday). But I loved the hats visible through the window and I loved the words Full Millinery Service inscribed on it. So I went back, equipped with the outfit I was planning to wear and put myself in the hands of Lynne, the daughter of Eleanor, the founder.
There is something of the no-nonsense Englishwoman about Lynne. She also knows her business. As soon as I told her the hat was to wear to a couple of weddings, she wanted to know where they’d be held and at what time of day. She hung up my outfit, sat me down in front of a mirror, and chose three or four hats for me to try. The garden party one wasn’t me. The little cocktail explosion-of-feathers was gorgeous but too much. The grey one (I think she said it was a Spanish sailor style) was just right. She considered it for a moment and then went into the back room and brought back a feather. “I think it needs this,” she said. At this point, I was willing to put myself completely in her hands. I hardly hesitated when she told me the price.
“Now, can I do anything else for you?” she asked. Maybe a hatbox for travelling, I thought. “Oh no,” she said. She stuffed the Hat with tissue paper and put it in a bag. “When you get on the plane, just give it to an attendant,” she said. “They’ll take care of it for you. Hatboxes are too big; they won’t fit in the overhead compartment.” I have great faith in Lynne, so I am sure it will all work out.
My friend Q took the photographs of the chosen Hat when I went back to pick it up. Falling quickly under Lynne’s spell (although she blamed me), she also bought a hat while we were there. I feel a new stage of my shopping life beginning.